The Pardon (completed)

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The Pardon (completed)

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:59 pm

The Pardon

The following was roleplayed without much forethought beyond a few whispers between two bored roleplayers via the site’s chat system, starting on Friday, 4 December 2009, and concluding this evening, Monday, 7 December 2009.

I have taken liberties of correcting obvious spelling or grammatical errors, including some edits for style, particularly with regard to keeping a consistent past tense, and occasionally substituting an ambiguous pronoun with the proper name of a character. All actual writing, however, was written by the roleplayers, and only my own posts were fully written by myself. The actual content, dialogue, and actions expressed in each post have not been altered in any way.

The posts have been compiled from my personal logs of posts, and I have written all BBCode myself, painstakingly.

The following is a short roster of the four players whose characters participated in this spontaneous roleplay with any significant role:

admiralmcgregor – Special Agent Marlene Angel, Langaran Defense Agency; Admiral McGregor, Aschen fleet; President Richard Adar, Aschen Confederation
Ylanne – Tahira Ali (fugitive)
Terrus Ipidomin – Dakida (psychopath)
W1ck3d – Cinder (fire elemental)

Tahira Ali waved to the bartender, trying to attract as little attention as possible. "Excuse me?" she called to the bartender. "Excuse me?"

A few moments, and the bartender turned to her, shouting across the bar to be heard. "What can I get for you?"

"A - a glass of water, please. That would be appreciated." She stumbled over the English words as she spoke, her accent betraying her status as an outsider, a foreigner, and she nodded, slumping in her seat, trying her hardest to slip back into invisibility in the crowd of strange bar patrons. But Tahira Ali was not invisible; her face was plastered on the far wall and more than one here had already identified her.

She felt eyes on her as the bartender arrived with her glass of water. She thanked him and he left. Tahira Ali wrapped her fingers around the glass, staring into the water. She did not notice Liesha behind her.

Outside the bar a single black SUV would pull up, its appearance sleek and rather advanced looking. The windows were tinted dark, an almost opaque black. Beside the lone SUV, two larger black SUVs pulled up, and behind it, what appeared to be a charger-like car also pulled up, aggressive and menacing. The doors to the first SUV opened, and a blond woman clad in a black suit could be seen, dark sunglasses obscuring her face some. Worn over the suit was a combat vest of some kind, a Disruptor rifle slung over the front of the vest, and over the back of the armored vest was a large AT Fuel rod cannon.

Pushing the door to the bar open, the woman looked around. "Let's try to accomplish this mission," she said as she watched the inhabitants of the bar. Eyes would continue to idly glance about until they fell upon Tahira Ali. Narrowing her eyes only slightly, she reached down to her palm pilot and withdraw it, a holographic screen forming and then showing the woman’s picture with alien blocky-like text scrolling about. Then it flashed with a chime, and disappeared as she looked up at Tahira, approaching her, seemingly radiating government, Aschen Government.

Dakida walked over to Tahira Ali and smiled, pulling out his twice as long pistol. He loaded what looked to be a bullet into the six barreled chamber. He spun the barrel and pointed the gun at the woman asking, "Do you feel lucky?"

Ali flinched, startled, turning to regard Dakida with widened eyes. "N-no. I do not know. . I - I. . ." she stammered helplessly, unable to think of the proper English to use, as it was difficult for her to speak this language she had never truly learned. Tahira Ali blinked rapidly, when finally she registered Marlene Angel approaching her, and turned, slightly, looking up at the other woman, wondering which of them knew her, which of them intended what, and she did not know anything. "I - Is there something you also would wish of me?" asked Tahira Ali, pitch rising slightly with anxiety, her accent betraying her immediately to any who listened to her voice, for English was not her native tongue. Would she die tonight? She thought it was not the will of Providence, but how could she claim to know it.

Cinder walked over to Dakida and pulled his gun out of his hands. "You never would have noticed until you fired." She pointed it up in between his eyes, just far enough for him to look at the tip – which was melted over. She gave him a half evil smile.

Dakida laughed and said to Cinder, "It wouldn't have mattered; It’s a blank!"

Cinder’s grin widened and she tossed the gun back at him. "Like I said, I don't believe in luck. I make my own." She points her fingers into his forehead, shaped like a gun. "How lucky do you feel?" She mocked him, but at the same time was semi-serious.

Marlene was silent as she watched Dakida withdraw his pistol, and with that she would unclasp her Disruptor Rifle from its sling, and then she quietly aimed it towards him. "Put the gun down lest I intervene," Marlene warned calmly as she looked to Tahira, reading the dossier provided by the Langaran Defense Agency.

Dakida laughed as he looked at the agent. He put the gun away and moved his hands toward his sniper rifle, smirking as he didn’t care if he used the long distance weapon at close range. He pointed the gun at the special agent (Marlene) and looked at Cinder saying, "That depends on your definition of luck!" all the while laughing more.

Then Marlene stared down at Tahira. "Are you Tahira Ali?" she asked in a plain, monotone officious voice, piercing blue eyes obscured by sunglasses on Tahira, watching her carefully. Tahira Ali flinched at the sound of the name, sliding back into her seat, her fingers wrapped tightly around the glass of water, eyes down on the table, anywhere but on this woman who had spoken her name, who obviously knew who she was.

But she nodded miserably, studying the table's surface. "Yes," she said. "I am the one called Tahira Ali. Who be thou to ask of me?" And she realized, then, that she was cornered, her back to the wall in the booth, these others standing in the aisle.

"My weapon is a Type 4A Disruptor rifle. A single shot from this rifle will disrupt the very molecular bonds (thermal damage would be a secondary trait) as your cells break apart at the atomic level, while your weapon would only knock me down. If it pierces my personal defense field it will be stopped by my body armor. I suggest you back down. I have this bar surrounded." Marlene then turned to Tahira Ali. "Agent M, LDA," she said simply, wondering if that would register in the woman before her.

Cinder brought up a flame in her other hand and glared at the special agent. "You know, I really don't like guns. . ." she said to both Dakida and Marlene. Her eyes began to flicker again in the excitement and the temperature started to change in the area around all four of them.

Dakida laughed and said, "special guns for special people." As he spoke, he put the sniper rifle away saying, "If I had fired the bullet, both your supposed shield and your armor couldn't stop a single bullet of this. But I'm feeling lazy today," speaking with hopefully enough truth to back up his claim. He shook his head and continued: "I don't see why people want this woman so bad. What did she do anyway?"

LDA. LDA. Ali’s eyes narrowed slightly, trying to recall why it sounded familiar, but her mind would not retrieve the desired information, and so she shook her head slowly, her hands falling from the side of the glass to the surface of the table, rough and worn beneath her fingers. Tahira Ali looked up, then, at Dakida, a small frown crossing her face, her gaze sliding back to Marlene. "I know not LDA. Is there something you wish of me?"

"Tahira Ali, LDA stands for the Langaran Defense Agency. You're charged with Assassination, Conspiracy to Commit Heinous Acts, Destabilization of Law and Order, and Conspiracy to Incite Uprising. You cannot escape; you are surrounded," Marlene said as she stared down at Tahira. "These are crimes not to be taken lightly; they are punishable by life at the Ne'tu penal colony, or even the death penalty. Now stand up, get on your knees, hands behind your head and cross your ankles: you're under arrest," Marlene said plainly.

Langaran Defense Agency. It sounded familiar then, LDA for Langaran Defense Agency. Could it be - would the Aschen have tracked her here, and to make this arrest, her arrest? Tahira Ali stared blankly up at the agent, words all registering with her several moments after they would have with any ordinary, English speaking individual, for she did not speak English well. Her brow knitted in concern, and she narrowed her eyes slightly, shaking her head.

"I - I have done none of these things," she said, rising slowly from where she was seated. Even at full height, the woman agent stood at least a head over her, and Tahira Ali was forced to look up to meet her eyes with her own emotionless ones. "I know not of what you speak; I did not commit these crimes, as you say. What do the Aschen want with me? What justice might I find in your courts?" She shook her head again, her frown deepening. Who exactly was this woman who called herself Agent M?

"There is overwhelming video and genetic evidence to the contrary," Marlene said, still keeping her eyes on Tahira. "If you did not commit these crimes, then you submit to a genetic test and standard LDA questioning," she said plainly as she withdrew a set of binders, and then a small penny-sized pill-like device. "I have a video recording as well as eyewitness accounts, and your fingerprints were on the murder weapon," she said clearly. "You shot president Vallis that day."

"I. . . genetic. . ." Ali shook her head helplessly, not thinking to wonder how they had her fingerprints on file. "This I do not understand. But I tell you, I tell you it surely was not I. . . if I did this, would I not remember? Why would I have reason to speak anything but the truth?" She sighed, looking left and right, eyes noticing the wanted poster and her image for the first time, but she said nothing. "Whatever it is you wish to ask of me, ask. The truth is clear. I think I do not know this President Vallis."

Marlene simply shook her head as she stared at Tahira. "You'll remember. Believe me when I say that," she said, as two more agents walked inside, stepping to either side of Tahira. "Take her back to the Frigate, process her, and we'll question her when I have returned." She then looked to Tahira as one of the agents spoke.

"Stand up, hands behind your head," the agent said as he moved to cuff her. The LDA agents locked the binders on her wrists and then led her out the front door, to the SUV waiting outside, and all the while, Tahira Ali thought only of what might be truth, and what not, for she did not know what the LDA wanted to hear - that she had killed this man, perhaps. The woman's words she did not forget. Tahira Ali closed her eyes for a moment. Why did she think she might escape her sins? It was a fool's folly. She could not forget, and others would never dare.

The SUV drove for quite some time, making its way through the streets of the city. Its interior was a black leather and vinyl finish, with an assortment of electronic equipment visible towards the driver’s side of the SUV. The agents inside said nothing. Behind the SUV Tahira was in, Marlene's SUV could be seen. Soon all the vehicles stopped close to a large empty field, where three large depressions could be seen in the grass, but there seemed to be nothing save for the occasional shimmer.

Tahira was kept in the very back seat of the SUV, a glass barrier separating her from the other agents. Soon the SUV came to a stop in this field, as did Marlene's SUV. Doors opened and an agent slid a keycard through the door Tahira was kept behind. With the click of the lock unlatching, they helped her out as the large, bulky ship decloaked, revealing three large engines and a rather lengthy body, colored steely iron and trimmed with red and orange.

There was a phoenix emblem on the side and the letters "Langaran Defense Agency" under the emblem. A few more moments and there was a deafening hiss as a large platform descended from the bottom of the ship, the two SUVs driving onto the platform while Tahira was escorted by two agents, with Marlene behind her, onto the platform. The door hissed again as it slowly began to raise itself into the belly of the vessel.

Two of the LDA agents led her onto the platform, and they walked onto the ship; all the meanwhile, Tahira Ali gaped at its sheer vastness, the body of the ship extending longer than several football fields end to end, itself unlike anything she had ever seen. Then they were inside, and the platform they had ascended rose to disappear cleanly into the side of the ship. The Langaran Defense Agency knew who she was, she thought with grim fascination. They knew who she was and they knew what she had done. How else to explain that Agent M had sought her?

The agents continued to lead Tahira through the large hangar bay. Rows of black SUVs were parked in special slots in the hangar bay. Above them were fighter craft hung upon special cranes. There were combat vehicles, APCs, and even armored vehicles such as tanks. This ship carried enough vehicles and personnel to carry out a small military operation. There were orbital drop pods, and racks upon racks of various advanced directed energy weapons.

Once they emerged from the hangar bay, the agents led Tahira through a hexagonal shaped corridor. The floor was a steely metal that clanked under their footsteps. Above them were bright fluorescent lights. Turning around a corner, a set of cells greeted Tahira. They were completely unfurnished, with absolutely nothing inside. A thick glass wall and door acted as bars. A harsh, bright light illuminated the cells. The walls were a stainless steel and the floor a Teflon coated black.

With a hiss the cell door slid open, and Tahira was led inside, where she was shackled to a small metal loop in the center of the cell. Marlene entered the cell and stood over Tahira with a rather thick folder in her hand. Two more agents walked inside and stood behind the prisoner. The shackles would allow her to move freely, but she had a leash of chain secured to the center metal loop.

Marlene promptly threw the file down onto the floor and gently unraveled the twine that secured it shut. Then she opened it up, revealing an LDA dossier of Tahira Ali, everything the agency had collected on her, as Marlene spoke. "As you can see. . . we've had our eye on you for quite some time now. . . Ms. Ali, you were born on Terra, in the Middle East. . . you're a known murderer, and all around terrorist, on the flip side you conduct yourself as a weak old woman. Two lives. . .one of these lives has a future. . . the other does not."

Tahira Ali stood silently, chained to the floor of the stark cell, empty but for the three LDA agents and herself. The others towered over her in height, Agent M by nearly a ruler's length. For a moment, she was transported back to her last year of secondary school, the top form, graduation day, a midget among her classmates, made tiny and invisible in the sea of people. She was invisible then. Tahira Ali was not invisible now, and to imagine it to be so would have been nothing but a lie.

She watched as Agent M opened a thick file, displaying hundreds of documents, many with her own name written on them, listening to the woman's calm, methodical English, the words hard to understand, and she furrowed her brow in concentration, listening to the words to understand them. "I have but one life," she said, words spoken slowly, to be sure of the pronunciation, "and I conduct myself as befits what I am. Whatever future there be for me, it is the will of Providence." She looked at the floor as she spoke, out of respect.

"And this life does not have a future," Marlene said as she flipped through the pages of the file. "Not only did you assist in bombing the Gemenon Prefectural Capital building, but you shot President Vallis! And you don't remember?" She asked, her voice still calm. "Hrm.." She then looked up as an older woman in a suit, wearing thick black glasses entered the cell, rolling a cart with a large red box on the top. With a flick of her fingers, Marlene unlatched the locks that secured the crate shut. With another swift motion, she pulled it open, revealing various highly sophisticated torture devices, from pain sticks to neural interface devices.

Reaching in, Marlene pulled out a device no bigger around then an American dime, and no thicker than maybe two or three millimeters. With another swift motion she pressed the small device against Ali's temple. It emitted an electronic buzz as it drove some kind of pin through the skin and bone directly into the brain. It was completely harmless, but rather painful.

"There we go. Maybe this will jog your memory," she said as she ran a pen-like instrument over the small device, then attached it to a fiber-optic cable hooked up to a holographic screen that projected from the cart. This particular instrument was designed to encourage memory recall, and display the memories so retrieved on the screen, as a live video feed. "Now, all you need to do is to try and remember. You won't be able to lie to me this way. I can see into your mind through this screen," Marlene said, her voice still monotone and methodical.

Ali winced, a sudden sensation of pain as a needle of some sort stabbed through her skull into her brain tissue, the woman agent's words now distant, and she blinked several times, listening to understand what she said. "I - I might remember only what can be remembered," she said, her voice soft, uncertain, for she was uncertain of everything she said to this stranger.

Ali closed her eyes, bowing her head, remembering at once the dead eyes of Vallis, the man whose name she had not known until that night, for when the agent had said it, she knew that the name belonged to him, and the fiery eyes of Father Sebastian who directed her school, St. Mary's Mother of Hope. . . the eyes were a window into the soul, especially in a man's dying moments. She remembered her aunt telling her this, in the dark kitchen on a warm summer afternoon, the sounds of children playing outside in the street. . . Ali closed her eyes and she remembered, and she said, "This man, I know."

"He served the people of this great Confederation right until his dying breath," Marlene said as she scrolled through the information on the screen. "You have had an interesting past," she said, her tone still monotone and methodical, sunglasses obscuring her gaze as she adjusted her glasses. She then began to interface with the screen. "And now that we have the evidence of the assassination, we can proceed to try and convict you," she said as she then took a breath. "Under Aschen law you have no rights because you are a foreigner; however, I will offer you two choices: you can have a trial by jury, or I can pass judgment, right here, right now" Marlene said bluntly.

"The Aschen and I have nothing to do one with the other. Am I not subject to your power now?" Tahira Ali looked up then at the woman agent, whose eyes were obscured behind sunglasses, almost as if she were afraid. But she knew better. "What would you have done? What do you will? Want me dead, gone, do you not? I hold no power on this world, or indeed on any other. You may judge me; your courts may judge me; but I know that God will judge me, and then, not one of my sins will be hidden, for my soul will stand naked."

"You will stand before Zeus; you're gods damned right. I will judge you; Zeus will judge you; and you will stand before Hades in Tartarus," Marlene said, narrowing her eyes. Then she reached up, her hand clasping the sunglasses. She pulled them from her face, folding them up and sliding them into her pocket, revealing blue eyes. As eyes were windows to the soul, Tahira might see a struggling soul, one that needed acceptance in a very traditional and xenophobic culture. She might see a mother in the woman's eyes, though this window would be brief as Marlene turned.

"You still deny these charges against you. . . I saw President Vallis in your memories. Everything you know was evident before me; I know everything you know; I could see your mind – all your sins, your past, everything – and you still deny my charge? Why?" She asked, turning back to face Tahira.

Tahira Ali remembered the piercing guilt, the suffocating shame, the sorrow unmatched by any other she had known, the look on her aunt's face, condemning her without ever having spoken a word, the stifling desert heat, the burning desire to crawl into a hole and die, for she knew exactly what she had done, and that no ritual or sacrament would cleanse the blood from her hands.

Ali watched the woman agent, the slight change of inflection, the eyes revealing the humanity of a woman not unlike herself, for did not both harbor inherent desire to love and to be loved, and did not both carry within them hidden pain and sorrow? Her own eyes revealed nothing, she had been told, but the pervasive sorrow that never left. She remembered, and she suffered. Her penance lay in that she knew what she was, and she lived with that knowledge.

She remembered kind words, whispered condolences, murmured promises, fleeting smiles, steaming rice on the kettle, the fragrance of sweet jasmine, sitting beneath the shade of the grapevine, the self-assurance and pride in her own work when for the first time she saw an A on a math test.

She remembered the unbridled fury, the rage that drowned her in a sea of red, the cruel, callous revenge exacted against one who was only trying to protect what was dear to him, who wanted nothing less than security for the people of his nation, for Ánár Tynan was already Mutalistan, revolution the spirit of the day she fled her homeland.

And she looked up at the woman agent and she nodded, and she said, "I do not deny that I killed Vallis, for I know now who this man was. I deny what else you have said, for whatever else it is you think I have done, I tell you was done not by my hand or word. Have I any reason to speak anything but the truth? You know who I am; to lie is a sin. The truth is unchanging." She plead with her eyes.

Standing over her, Marlene shook her head. "This is all I needed to see." She then flicked the screen off, and with a flash the video disappeared. She then touched the pen-like instrument to the memory recall device, which emitted another buzz as the pin retracted, and Marlene removed the device. "It's honorable that you show remorse for your actions, but it does not change what is done. . .You are a wanted woman Tahira," she said as she slid the device back into the case and her hands moved to close it. "The Aschen have a five hundred thousand credit bounty on you, one I am not ready to let slide through my fingertips. We will take you to Langara; there you will face trial by a jury," Marlene said as she turned to the glass cell door.

With a loud hiss it opened. She then walked out of the cell to leave Tahira alone to think. The two agents followed Marlene out. Once they were out of sight, there was a whine followed by a buzz, a very small window visible to the outside. The ship then jerked and bucked slightly as it began to lift off. Tahira Ali watched as the agents left, leaving her alone, the cell empty but for her. She sank to her knees, the chains clinking against each other, and covered her face with her hands. The woman agent was right. The past could not be changed. Nothing she said or did, nothing she felt or wanted, could ever change what had already been done. Her sins could be paid for only with blood.

Could she pray? Could she pray and expect mercy? No god she could imagine would have mercy on her, not for what she had done. There would be no mercy, and she did not expect it, for what did she deserve? Ali sat still for the longest time, unmoving, wondering what judgment the Langaran jury might pass against her. When she finally looked up, hands falling to her knees, her cheeks were wet.

The ship continued to lift off from the ground, gaining more and more altitude. Indeed, Tahira Ali would be judged by a Langaran jury. Soon jerking and rumbling turned to a completely smooth journey as blue sky darkened and turned to the blackness of space. The angle of the ship beheld the sun shining through the window, directly onto a crying Tahira, the dust showing a faint outline of the sunlight as the ship began its course. Low humming echoed through the vents, cool dry air blown into the cell.

An uncertain future was at hand for Tahira. Marlene had seen her humanity shine through. President Adar also saw the video feeds once they were transmitted, unbeknownst to Tahira, she would most likely not spend the rest of her days on an Aschen penal colony, nor would she face the Airlock or Firing squad, it was uncertain what a Jury would select, or if she was to be punished at all by them.

Soon there was a dizzying distortion, as if the ground and the walls were tilting and stretching, and then a lapse, and everything oriented itself. Rather than Terra, an entirely different planet appeared, though much like Earth, with various ships coming and going from this planet. There were space stations and even entire battle platforms orbiting, all while the ship began to rumble and shake once more as it began its descent.

The sun was warm, bright, not unlike the sun of her youth, the desert sun she had grown accustomed to, its warmth at once an embrace and a warning. She looked up, the sun kissing her face with its light through the window, but did not move in another way, wondering distantly what her future might hold. She made her choices, she made a thousand choices each moment, and here, she knew her choices would not change her future. Ali looked out through the window, and she saw a new planet, the space around it filled with satellite ships, the ship she was on trembling, her chains sliding against one another.

She watched with unbridled curiosity, then, not knowing this world, and fascinated by it, for its beauty from space, as it grew closer, until it filled the view, and Ali knew that this odyssey was only beginning. What the future might hold, she did not know, nor dare to speculate. But she hoped, somewhere inside, that there might be mercy yet.

The ship continued its descent, rumbling and shaking even more, its speed increasing slightly as it continued to descend. The black of space soon turned to blue sky, growing brighter and brighter, and then there was a jerk as the ship came to a sudden stop, another jerk as the landing gear touched the tarmac. Then there was silence.

Tall gleaming skyscrapers towered above, seemingly of a human, yet futuristic and alien design. Several moments passed by and the agents walked back into the cell block, a hiss heard as the door opened up, Marlene seen standing in front of two LDA agents. "Let's go," she said as she motioned to the hallway, agents stepping in and unlatching Tahira's shackles and motioning for her to step out of the cell. They then led her through the halls of the ship until they were back on that same elevator platform. With a mechanical clunk, it descended, pure pine scented air filling the hangar as the wind blew it in.

It was a cold Sagittaron day. But Langara was a cold planet in general, the temperature today would be in the low fifties and it would be slightly breezy. Marlene looked around as the wind whipped her hair around, the air was pure, completely devoid of any pollution, and the sky a deep blue, buildings towering over them as Marlene led her to the waiting black SUV.

Ali stood when the agents returned, following them to the same elevator platform, but when they emerged onto Langara, Ali felt immediately out of place, the chilly weather and biting wind whipping at her hair and robes unlike the desert she was accustomed to, shivering as they walked from the ship to the SUV, identical to the other one. Looking around, she saw a vast city with towers reaching for the sky, an alien world, foreign, but not unlike the city she had grown up in.

For in all cities, were there not the poor, the hungry, the lonely, those who sought adventure, and those who ran from it? Were there not politicians and police, clerics and revolutionaries, hospitals and universities? In all cities, there were people, and all people shared at least this in common - the desire to love and to be loved. She thought that not every man would know it or think of it, but Ali was certain it was true. For her, at least, she knew it was. To Marlene, she said, "Where are we?", squinting in the sunlight.

"Sagittaron, capital of the Sagittaria prefecture. It’s also the capital city of the Aschen Confederation,” Marlene said as Tahira was led into the black SUV. Once she was inside, the driver keyed the ignition. The engine turned over with a high pitched whine; it was not gasoline powered. Hitting the acceleration pedal, the SUV pulled out of the base, and onto one of the wide opened streets, which was somewhat littered with traffic, cars of all shapes and sizes. Some of them wheeled, while others hovered a few feet off the ground. Police cars, their white color, trimmed with red and blue could also be seen. People crowded the sidewalks on this cold blustery day, the homeless and children also milling about as the scenery passed them.

Soon the SUV was on an overpass, a gap in the buildings heralding a bay, the water a sparkling blue in color, clean. The trees that lined the other side of the bay were evergreens. The mountains that the city was nestled in were tall and jagged, covered with evergreen trees. This world was still somewhat geologically young, its snow-capped tall, jagged mountains carpeted in evergreens – pines, cedars, and firs - giving it a verdant look. Just as they passed another large skyscraper, Marlene turned to Tahira. "What do you think of our planet?" she asked, trying to strike up conversation.

Tahira Ali watched through the windows of the SUV, the scenery beautiful, like the word paintings of Rumi, landscapes exquisite with untainted pristine quality, the mountains bringing memories of a field trip trek up the mountains to the north of Mutalistan, travels elsewhere. "It is beautiful," she murmured to the woman agent, enthralled by the sights. "Your world is beautiful."

The SUV continued on its course as it weaved its way through the city. Soon they came up before a large building, towering into the sky like the others. It was built in a distinctly Grecian style and appeared much older than the other buildings in the city. Once the SUV came to a stop, Marlene stepped out, followed by her fellow agents. Leading Tahira up the marble steps up towards large glass doors, they made their way through the building, riding an elevator several stories up.

Soon they were greeted by large oak doors, which, once they were opened, revealed a middle aged bald man sitting at a desk. Behind him was an emblem, a phoenix motif with the words "Seal of the President of the Aschen Confederation of Planets." Eyes slowly turned upward as he finished reading Ali’s dossier. "So you're the woman who shot President Vallis twenty years ago," he said as he put his glasses on. "You don't look like a murderer."

Tahira Ali looked up at the President, who was taller than her, even though she was standing and he seated. She did not meet his eyes, looking instead at his chin, standing straight, chained hands folded. "Whose appearance should match his character? No man may look on the outside as what he is inside." She spoke softly, slowly, the words a lilting cadence, the clipped Arabic accent tainting the English. Ali thought there might be some mistake, for the seal on the wall was of the President of the Aschen Confederation, who must be a powerful man, and she, she thought, a nobody.

"Tell me of the events that day. I can save your life, or I can sign your death warrant, right here, right now," the president said as he motioned to the papers before him. "I want to know motive. . .why?" His pen tapped the paper. "Marlene told me you showed remorse for your crime. . . and asked for a presidential pardon. . . I'm tempted to send you to a prison world, or even place you on trial. . .” The president tapped his pen, an awkward silence filling the room.

Tahira Ali knew then it was no mistake that she was here. This man before her was the President of the Aschen Confederation, though she did not know his name, and the woman agent, the one called Agent M, was called Marlene, a name at once beautiful and strange to hear after the events of the past hour or so – she was not certain of the time.

Ali did not know whether this man had been sent as her salvation or her condemnation, but she listened to his words, and half-turned, regarding Marlene as if with new eyes, now knowing the woman agent had interceded, asking for a pardon on her behalf. The truth was the important thing now. God would do with her what he willed.

“It was long ago, that and the many other things,” she said, turning back to the President, sighing as she spoke, her voice pained, the words themselves pronounced carefully, with small mistakes. “There was one. . . one whom I loved, do love, who once loved me also. . . I thought it would hurt him most, for his was a guiding principle of justice, and he too led in the same way that this Vallis did. . . I was right. What I have done hurt him more than my words ever might have.”

“I never considered. . . but now I understand more than I ever might have imagined, what has passed because of what I have done. . . too many lie dead by my hand, and at the time all I thought of was this one man! I left behind grieving families, not the least mine own, which to this day mourns my life. . . there will be no celebration of my life when it should end.” Ali paused, looking at the desk, the papers on the President’s desk. “You have asked, hadrat, and I your servant have answered.”

President Adar was silent, listening carefully as he adjusted his glasses. The small plaque on his desk read "Richard Adar", and in smaller text, "President of the Aschen Confederation." Adar spoke up, then. "Our society is that of forgiveness. Thomas Zarek, a well respected Sire, was a convicted terrorist. He was young and rebellious much like you were at one point, but today he serves as a most Honorable Sire residing over the beautiful prefecture of Sagittaria, and as a Sire in the house of Parliament. There is the capacity for people to change. Consider this a turning point in your life."

He then let the pen scratch on the paper before him. "A full presidential pardon of all crimes against the Aschen Confederation of planets," Adar said, sliding the paper towards Ali. "Present this to all who seek you, as we have treaties with the US and most world governments. When presented to a high authority of said governments, they will follow," he explained. "However, I ask that you do only good from now on. Help your fellow man, seek forgiveness for your sins and repent.”

“But if I learn you have committed further crimes. . ." Taking a breath, Adar paused. "You will find yourself in the cross-hairs of a sniper taking his lucky shot." He then folded his hands on his desk. "May the Lords of Kobol guide you on the path of righteousness, go now. . .and do good."

Marlene then nodded. "With this you will be returned to Terra aboard the Pious Inquisitor, when Admiral McGregor makes his run to Tal'dor. You'll get a chance to meet my son," she said as Adar nodded.

"Dismissed," said President Adar. And with that, Marlene touched a device to Tahira's shackles, and with a buzz they released, falling to the ground. Ali listened in shocked silence as President Adar spoke, the English words difficult to understand at the speed he was speaking, but the mercy he was offering utterly undeserved. She knew if it were anyone else, any other man or woman, she would never have been the recipient of such a gift of grace, for Ali knew that was what she had been forgiven by. The grace her aunt had taught her of had always been meaningless and abstract, but she thought she now could glimpse the wonder or the grace Solara had proclaimed.

When the shackles were released, Ali felt some invisible burden lift from her shoulders, and she stood straighter, looking up at the president. "I - I cannot say enough to thank you," she stammered, words now nearly lost upon her. "These past twenty year, all I have done I have done and said in the hopes that I might offer some penance for my sins. . . You have - you have given me a gift I thought I could never receive."

Ali bowed slightly, hand over her heart, before she took the paper, clutching it between her fingers. Then she turned to Marlene, prepared to leave President Adar's office. She thought that all this time, she had been pretending to be good, trying in vain to forget her sins, but now, now she felt that this man had given her permission to be good. To be, and not to pretend. For it had been said before that each man is defined by his choices. And she chose - and she chose to do good.

"Let us depart." Marlene said as she signaled to the door. "You have been given a grand pardon, an Aschen presidential pardon is very rare, but very powerful, for one to receive such an honor at the hands of a nation such as this, it generally applies to all whom seek you." Marlene explained as she led Tahira through the halls, and soon they were heading down an elevator. "I would have not interceded on your behalf had I not read your more recent reports, but the path is always, indefinite." She explained as the elevator came to a stop.

With a pleasant chime the doors opened. Marlene then motioned to the lobby. "Would you care for something to eat before we depart? Personally I am quite famished. I've been running on fumes for quite some time," she explained as they stepped outside. Instead of a black SUV waiting for them, it was a dark red luxury sedan. "From here we will proceed to the spaceport, where you can go back home with Admiral McGregor," Marlene explained, motioning to the sedan. "This way."

Tahira Ali followed Marlene through the halls of the government building, outside, blinking in the sun. She looked up, the sun burning into her eyes with its brightness, then back down, focusing on the dark red sedan. "If you so desire," she said, "I would join you. But I have no means to pay for foodstuffs, for I have no money." Ali's hand rested on the door to the passenger side of the sedan, and she looked up at Marlene's face. "And I would not wish to impose upon you, especially not. . . not after what you have done for - for me." She wondered, but didn't ask, what the 'recent reports' on her own self had contained, but said nothing of it.

The dark red sedan seemed to have no one inside. Marlene slowly climbed into the driver’s seat of the sedan and slid a card like device into what seemed to be the ignition switch. There was a whine as well as a pleasant crystalline chime as the car turned on, its LCD dashboard gauges coming online in full color, showing everything from system status to reactor and engine temperature. Marlene turned to Tahira. "All right; we'll go straight to the spaceport then," she said as she put the car into gear and pulled out of the parking spot that the sedan was parked in. Pulling out into traffic, Marlene looked around as she tried to weave through traffic. "I'm still going to get something on the way to the spaceport," she explained as she pulled out onto the highroad, the city now in full view as the sun began to slowly set out onto the bay.

Ali climbed awkwardly inside the sedan, not having ridden in a car often before, and sunk into the seat, curious at the LCD display, but soon entranced by the sights of the city. Never had she seen such a majestic city, with a sweeping skyline, and the hubbub of commerce expanding ever-outward to include many more millions of people than she had ever imagined in one place. Indeed, the city of her childhood, was significantly smaller, with no buildings but the churches and mosques rising more than perhaps ten stories tall into the sky.

"Whatever you desire," said Ali, the words more murmured than spoken, turned toward the window, her wide eyes taking in all the sights of the city, the aureate sunset painting the skies brilliantly, with such vivid color as she had never imagined. . . the sight was nearly identical to the desert sunsets she had oft watched when a child, sitting outside on the hot sand, and for the briefest of moments, the nostalgia brought a tear to her eye.

The roads seemed to be smooth. Maybe it was the slightly better suspension that the car had provided, or the smooth, finished roads. Turning around a hairpin that seemed to follow the trace of the bay's shoreline, Marlene pulled off on an exit, pulling through a drive through. She placed her orders, two servings of what appeared to be Gyros. With one in hand, she idly munched on it as she pulled back onto the highroad, the car moving at rather fast speeds with the rest of the traffic. Soon they pulled up onto the spaceport, civilian liners coming and going, their engines roaring in the skies as they took off and landed.

Bringing the car to a stop, Marlene pushed the door open and stared up at the darkening sky, the city's lights coming on one by one. The bright streetlights burned their high-current LED bulbs, which gave off a bright white, almost bluish tinted light and illuminated the streets quite well. By the time they had reached the spaceport, it was dark out, neon, LED, and halogen lights illuminating the city rather brilliantly.

Marlene stepped out of the sedan as she handed one of the Gyros to Tahira. "Here, this is where we will part. You will ride with Admiral McGregor back to Terra. So long as you hold onto that pardon, no one will seek you," she explained. "Farewell."

Ali nodded to Marlene, standing outside, holding the gyro in one hand, the pardon in the other, and she bowed her head slightly. "Shukran jazelan," she said, the Arabic words luscious, and then she translated for the other woman. "Thank you very much. For everything. Ma'saalema. Go in safety." She gave a small, sad smile, a slight upturning of the lips, and then she dematerialized into the transporter, appearing several moments later on the bridge of the Pious Inquisitor.

Ali looked around herself, the darkness of the ship not absolute in the way the darkness of the desert night is utterly black, the ship's itself in some ways like the one they had transported her on to Langara from Gambit's, but it was not the same. And there, standing on the other end of the bridge, was a young man, taller than her by a ruler's length, blonde hair framing a thin face. The Admiral, she thought, the son of Marlene. Her hand over her heart, the pardon tucked away, she gave a slight bow. "Hadrat, Admiral McGregor," she said.

"Shal kek nim ron." Raphael said, inclining his head slightly. "Welcome aboard the AHSC Pious Inquisitor, flagship of the 3rd Task Force," Raphael explained as a female figure appeared before them, her form was somewhat translucent and a purple hue as Raphael spoke. "Aiyanna, set a course for Terra, FTL."

The figure then nodded. "By your command." And then she vanished as Raphael spoke.

"It should just be a few moments before we commence the jump." He said as he turned to face a set of 3d holograms. "Though the Confederation will no longer seek you, I recommend you tread lightly. That is a pardon, not a granting of asylum. I will do my best to oversee your safety, and ensure you're released when the FBI captures you," he explained, just as there was a distortion, followed by a lapse as Raphael inclined his head and extended his hand. "We shall beam down," he said as a bright light engulfed the two of them.

"Whatever is done, I am grateful for; I do not deserve the grace I have been given," she said to the Admiral. Ali then took the Admiral's hand, and they dematerialized, appearing again in the side alley outside the bar, Gambit's glowing sign visible but two doors down. It was nighttime; only two hours had passed, and the moon was high in the sky. Ali released the Admiral's hand and then turned to him. "Again, Hadrat, I thank you. Go in safety." And she nodded.

"This will not be the last time we cross paths. The Aschen Embassy is just down the street. If you run into trouble, and are unable to find Aschen personnel, head there, and they will ensure your safety." Raphael then inclined his head one more time. "Ya duru arik kek onac," he said, a rough translation of 'Go fourth with honor.' And he promptly vanished in a bright white light, leaving Ali with her pardon and gyro in hand.
​“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
― Arundhati Roy

Stunning letter from autistic survivor of electric shock torture in USA

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The Encounter: Part One

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:57 pm

Sophia Voth lifted the cigarette to her mouth again, studying him with his hand outstretched. She inhaled the smoke, closing her eyes momentarily in pleasure, a small noise escaping from her throat. She exhaled and opened her eyes, placing her hand in his own. "Sophia. Sophia Voth, ex-smoker." She chuckled softly, her fingers brushing lightly against his palm as she glanced down at his hand, noting the scars. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she looked at him. "Is it true an assassin can usually pick out one of their own?" she asked, testing to see if her first assumption of him was correct. She tapped the ashes from her cigarette, lifting it to her lips again, inhaling the thick smoke with a pleased smile. Her hand remained in his, her fingers lightly moving against his palm.

Lucifer Macbeth joined in on her laugher and grasped her hand with a firm grip, almost shuddering from how soft and how delicate it felt entwined with his own. Properly shaking her hand for a second, it would take longer than expected until he released her hand. But as he was just about to snuff out his smoke, Sophia would ask to him a question that seemed to be very true. "Yes.' He replied with a simple word, nodding as he proceeded in his simplistic actions. "And just by the feel of your gracious skin Ms. Voth, I can tell you've sinned so many times that the blood on your flesh is almost permanent." Lucifer then assumed, acting more alive than usual, his accented voice fluid and one to hear for he rarely spoke and if he did it would usually be around the lines of a reply or statement of sorts.

Some people made flashy entrances, like the man who always appeared in flames and smoke, or those who entered bleeding, or those who entered brandishing weapons, or those whose entrance occurred simultaneously with sudden changes in temperature. Unlike these, Tahira Ali entered quietly, opening the door and stepping inside, taking a seat by herself. Perhaps the only thing of note about Tahira Ali's entrance, or of her presence, to be more accurate, was that there were two of her.

This was not in the sense that she was a split personality, nor a mage able to conjure a duplicate, but if one looked round the walls of the room before looking at her, her wanted poster was pinned neatly to a board near the far wall, behind the counter, with a recent photograph centered under her name. The face was nearly identical in form or feature, but if one did not notice, then her entrance was wholly ordinary and deserved no remark. Ali herself did not notice this phenomenon, and remained blissfully unaware of her second self.

Sophia chuckled slightly and lifted her glass of whiskey in a mock salute. "Perhaps a bit more often than even I would like to admit," She smiled. She inhaled the smoke again, glancing at Tahira as she entered. She bit her lip as she turned her attention back to Lucifer. "I will never know heaven, Mr. Macbeth." She swallowed the remainder of her whiskey, watching Tahira furtively. "Speaking of which..." She inhaled from the cigarette one last time, closing her eyes at the feeling of the smoke in her lungs. "Goddess I miss that!" she muttered before stabbing the cigarette out in the ashtray. "Please excuse me for a moment," she smiled up at him. She rose from the barstool and approached Tahira. "As I said before, Madam, if you are who I think you are, I have nothing but respect for you." She looked down at the woman, knowing not to let her appearance cause her to let her own guard down.

Ali turned, blinking slowly at the sudden approach of the woman who had approached her earlier, eyes narrowing as the woman spoke, in concentration on the unfamiliar English words, before comprehension took over sound. "I am not one deserving of respect," Ali said, shaking her head, speaking slowly, her voice soft, marked with a distinct clipped accent that immediately betrayed her lack of fluency in English. "But I thank you nonetheless for your kind words." And she nodded slowly.

Lucifer nodded as Sophia would excuse herself from his presence, taking note of her words on which he took a moment to think about. She was right, assassins would never be blessed with heaven upon their deaths, and Lucifer was glad. Watching Sophia from the corner of his heterochromic eyes, he studied her body carefully as she would approach that of an old woman. "Odd..." He commented aloud in a low voice, brows furrowing whilst he spoke. Now alone, Lucifer had time to do as he pleased, on which he would go back and take his seat. Alas getting the current bartender's attention, he ordered himself a Pepsi Vodka on the rocks and requested to have a shot of scotch to go with it. Today he was going to drink his heart out, was away his grief and sorrow, along with his perpetual loneliness that plagued him from day in and day out and seemed to never allow for him to have a woman's embrace or a warmed bed.

Sophia smiled and shook her head at the older woman. "Despite my respect, Ms. Ali, I need the money." She unsnapped the strap that held her dagger in its sheath, watching the woman's face for realization to dawn. "Unless you can bribe me away from that purpose, I believe I have a bounty to collect." She smiled warmly, already slowly bending her knees, her hand hovering at her hip in preparation to strike.

Ali frowned then, a downturn of her lips deepening on her features as she realized what was happening. "You know my name," she said dumbly, in response to the woman's address of herself, though Ali had not given her name. And then, in realization, "You want the money." And this last she said flatly, without either accusation or bitterness. Ali did not look the younger woman in the eye, her gaze resting on a spot just beyond the woman's shoulder, seeming to stare at something only she could see. "You do not have to do this, sayyida."

Sophia nods slowly, watching the woman figure out her intentions. "Nor do I want to. As I said, I have much respect for you. I'd like to go back over to that counter, order another whiskey, and chat with my new friend," she said, gesturing to Lucifer. "However, as I also said, I need the money. What do you have to offer me that will convince me that perhaps I should locate a source of income elsewhere?"

Robert Archer had jumped to the far right window of the apartment as soon as Tahira Ali had entered the bar once again. Several dull minutes had passed while Archer and the Sergeant beside him prepared their weaponry; lacking a contact to monitor Tahira herself, Archer and the Sergeant would have to simply hold eyes on her.

"Shit -- Lieutenant -- we've got someone on Ali." The Sergeant returned, preparing the rifle that was shoved into his shoulder. Archer quickly hefted the scope of the EMR-50 to his eye; locating his target, Archer frowned at the woman standing nearby. If Archer knew anything of this city, he could pick out a vigilante or freelancer that would gladly cash on a bounty -- especially if the target was nothing but a simple old lady. But why was she hesitating?

"Keep eyes on the possible hostile. She makes a move, we drop her."

Ali shook her head. "Money have I none, or I would freely give it to you." She stared mournfully at the far wall, making no move for a weapon, though she had a knife tucked into her voluminous robes, and a 9mm in her pocket. "There are better ways to go about gaining money than this," said Ali, the words not so much desperate as remarkably mild, even, though her accent destroyed what affect she might otherwise have had.

Archer forced himself to steady his breathing, easily taking several seconds to simply hold his heart rate constant. The Sergeant on the balcony yanked back the bulky slide of the MR-92 back, chambering a 12.8 millimeter Nano-Shell that could dissolve through a tanks armor in seconds. The effects it could have on a soft-target were horrifying.

"You think she's carrying?" The Sergeant inquired vainly; Archer shook his head before he himself prepared the slide of the EMR-50.

"I don't care if she is, but we sure as hell won't be letting anyone drag her in." Archer said, a flash of his commanding dedication to the mission shining in the darkened, hazy air of the empty apartment.

Sophia sighed, confused by the woman's reaction. She had to wonder why someone else had not taken the opportunity to collect the bounty, especially since the woman appeared such an easy victim. She sighed again, frowning. "Tell me, what better way is there to get money than to do something you enjoy?"

"A better question would be whether gaining money is in itself a desirable end," Ali countered, her tone still flat for the most part, but for her thick accent. She blinked up at the younger woman, the question laid between the two of them like an unspoken challenge, though of a different kind than most.

Archer continued to observe the two; primarily the woman standing nearby. His scopes thermal optic disengaged, Archer was able to view the woman unhindered by any technologies. Her face looked slightly confused; her direct thoughts unknown to him, but Archer could only assume what she was thinking.

<How the fuck has an old hag like this survived with twenty mil on her head?> His thought caused Archer to smirk slightly; he had worked on his telepathy -- he was still nowhere near as good as any of those in the Coalition Striker Battalions, but he might be getting there.

"I've got a center-mass shot, Lieutenant." The Sergeant relayed; waving his hand off, one of the last things Archer wanted was to blow the cover of their snipers nest.

<If only we had someone in there ... > Archer mumbled in his own head, cursing beneath his breath before readjusting his aim.

Sophia tilts her head, her hand still hovering over the dagger at her hip. "I'd be interested to hear one reason that money would not be a desirable end." She had never hesitated before, what was causing her to hesitate now?

"It is blood money," Ali said simply.

Sophia shrugged, her expression stoic. "Blood money still spends. I'm already going to hell, what do I care?"

Archer dropped the scope to the dagger at the woman’s hip -- a very concealable weapon, yet could be used to deadly efficiency in an urban environment like this. "I've got one weapon -- small blade, hip. Possible weapons concealed elsewhere." Archer relayed; simply tasking the Sergeant with investigating the possibility of more weapons. Archer would have to change the quality of the scope, something the Sergeant could do easily without losing his aim.

"Judging from her character I'd say she's a bounty-hunter or mercena -- "

"Assassin, Sergeant. Assassin. You can tell by the dagger." Archer mumbled; no mercenary would be so under-equipped.

"The question is not of the end, but of what you choose to do," Ali said. "You choose to do wrong. But then, you choose to do right, because your choices define who you are. And sometimes, we hope to change the way others see us. A pity it is a journey without end."

Sophia shakes her head. "I care not how others see me," she said quietly. "I do what I do because I enjoy it, and if that makes me a vicious sadistic evil person, so be it. I am what I am. I enjoy the feeling of the warm blood of another washing out over my hands." She paused for a moment biting her lip, still not letting her guard down. "Tell me something. I've never hesitated before today. Why is it that I hesitate now?"

"Perhaps you hesitate, sayyida, because you too begin to understand that life is sacred. I have killed, too," Ali said, speaking so quietly it would be hard to hear her words over the cacophony in the bar, "and when I did it, when I - when I watched someone die because I had taken their life, I reveled in that unique power. But I did not do it because I enjoyed it. I am not what you want me to be, nor what others make of me. That," she said, nodding toward the poster on the back wall, as if seeing it for the first time, "is not who I am. My days are numbered, and if today my life will end at your hand, then so be it. But should you make that decision, then know me for exactly what I am." And this, she said sorrowfully, and with great conviction.

Archer continued to breathe slowly as he observed the silent conversation between the two. Lips were indeed moving; ideas and words were being passed from one mind to another, yet Archer knew nothing of the specifics.

"What's the tango waiting for ... ?" Archer questioned, peeling himself from the scope. The Sergeant coughed lightly before reapplying himself to the scope of the M-92.

"She's telling her something ... " The Lieutenant replied, the Sergeant simply shrugged.

"Like what? Her secret recipe to making the perfect ginger snap cookies?"

Sophia stood silent for a moment, staring down at the woman. She pursed her lips in thought, her fingers removing the dagger from its sheath. She held the dagger for a moment, still, contemplating, before pulling up a chair and lowering herself into it. Setting the dagger on the table, she placed a hand over it protectively. "Then tell me," she whispered, something flashing behind her eyes. "Tell me what you are." She frowned to herself, upset that the woman was able to stay her hand as she had. She fidgeted with the dagger on the table as if trying to remind herself of her purpose, her eyes never leaving those of Tahira.

Archer felt his heart rate skyrocket as the hostile withdrew the dagger, Archer's hand instinctively falling to the trigger assembly of the rifle and preparing to squeeze off the first shot. As Archer regained himself, however, he forced a shout to stop the Sergeant from firing.

"Taking the sh --"

"Hold your fire, hold your fire!" Archer waved a hand to the Sergeant.

"I am Tahira Ali. I am a woman who has made some terrible choices, and some good ones. I am no less damned for my sins than Lucifer was, but no less human than the best of us. I am a person. I am a sister, and I am a daughter." When she spoke, there was an air of finality in her voice, as Ali's words took on emotion in a way they had lacked earlier. And this whole time, Ali finally looked Sophia in the eyes, making eye contact in such a way and for such a length of time as she had almost never done before with a stranger.

Sophia pursed her lips in thought as she looked into the woman’s eyes. She gripped her dagger between her thumb and forefinger, tapping the tip down into the table rhythmically. Damn, this was supposed to have been an easy kill. She was confused. She didn’t like to be confused. Suddenly, she tightened the grip on her dagger and shoved herself out of the chair, moving away from the woman. She kept the woman in her peripheral vision as she paced for a few minutes, the hilt of the wickedly sharp dagger held firmly in her fist. She moved back to the woman quickly, her expression betraying the anger she felt at being so confused. She leaned forward, the dagger held tightly at her side, speaking through her teeth. “Tell me one good choice you’ve made… and how did it work out for you?” She gestured wildly to the poster on the wall.

Ali flinched at Sophia's sudden movement, but remained where she was seated, hardly moving but to speak, and to turn her head to follow the younger woman with her eyes. "Kami," Ali said, without hesitation, not looking at the poster on the wall. "The daughter of my sister. Her own mother passed on without her, and I was left to ensure her safety, her wellbeing. I have poured every ounce of my love into that child, and she is everything I cannot be."

Sophia stepped back, slapping the dagger against her leather clad thigh. “And how does she feel about there being an enormous price on your head?” She sighed lifting a hand to her hair, swiping some loose strands from her face. The money. She needed the money. She tried to keep that thought in her head as she looked at the woman, trying to keep herself from feeling anything.

Archer shoved the rifle into his shoulder; his hand once again trembling over the trigger mechanism as the woman stood and clutched the dagger. Archer had pushed the envelope far too long; any more, he thought the Sergeant would simply squeeze the trigger himself, compromising both of them -- and any attempt the Coalition could make at gathering more information on the Aschen. "Hold ... your fire." Archer commanded, his voice a seizing whisper.

Ali looked down, studying the surface of the table, her eyes growing moist. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve, and shook her head. "I never told her," Ali said, her voice almost a whisper. "I was afraid she could never be normal, knowing that, could never understand how much I loved her. I wanted to protect her from that knowledge. And when she found out? It destroyed her, and she never spoke to me again. I have not seen her since, though I have heard she is well, in America, in a good school. I do not know if she loves me, or if I can ever be forgiven for that, or for the many worse things I have done. But I know I love her. I would die for Kami."

Sophia frowned again, clenching the dagger in her fist. The thoughts in her head were unfamiliar, breaking through the crust of a carefully constructed wall, built to protect herself from emotion. She turned from the woman, still able to see her out of her peripheral vision in the event of sudden movement, but focused on the floor in front of herself. She poked the tip of the dagger into her thigh, forcing herself to focus on the pain as it tore through her leather pants and punctured her skin. She was trying to force the unfamiliar emotions back behind the wall again, the thoughts she chose not to think. “Why are you still alive?” she asked, the question directed to Tahira despite being asked of the floor.

"It must be the will of God," Ali said, her voice once again lacking affect or emotion. When Sophia stabbed herself, Ali stood, reaching out to the younger woman. "Please, don't do that, sayyida!" she cried, reaching for the dagger to take it from the woman so that she could not hurt herself. "Don't hurt yourself, no," she murmured, grasping for the dagger.

Sophia scoffed slightly. “God…” She chuckled. “I’m sure God has had little to do with it.” She twisted the dagger from the woman’s reach, glaring down at her. “It does not hurt,” she lied. “I must avoid…” She pauses, skipping to another thought. “It is either this or end the life of another, and at this moment, I do not want to kill you.” She took a step away, mentally trying to shove the memories back down behind the mental wall she had built. “That is very good for you.” She had never felt so weak and it disgusted her. Suddenly she wanted to be anywhere but in front of this woman. So, this was how she had survived for so long with a price on her head.

Ali let her arm drop, but she remained standing, an arm's length away from the younger woman. "Please, don't hurt yourself," Ali repeated, her voice quieter now, as she looked Sophia in the eye.

Sophia closed her eyes for a moment, lifting the fingers of her free hand to massage her temple. She sighed, shaking her head. “Blood money,” she whispered, suddenly not wanting it any more. She sheathed the dagger, keeping her hand on the hilt out of habit. She opened her eyes and stared at the woman, biting her lip, her own memories bubbling painfully to the surface despite her best control at trying to hold them back. “Write her a letter,” she said quietly, averting her eyes. “Write her a letter and tell her everything. Do that, and I will spare your life.”

Ali nodded. She knew what Sophia meant without asking. Hand trembling, she reached into her pocket slowly, and withdrew a folded sheet of paper, apparently crumpled and later smoothed out. She opened it. "Two years ago, I did," said Ali, so softly she hardly seemed to be speaking. "She wrote back." Ali held out the letter for Sophia to take it, if the woman wanted to. Inside, all it said was, Don't write back. –K, in a teenage girl's handwriting, postmarked from Nevada, no return address.

Sophia’s hand reached out for the letter before she could stop herself. She examined it, held it for a moment and frowned, holding the letter out for Tahira to reclaim. She wanted it out of her hands. Her eyes took on a faraway look for a moment, as if she were seeing something over the woman’s shoulder, something that only she could see. She shook her head to clear her thoughts, before biting her lip. “There is nothing I could do that would hurt you any more than that,” she said quietly. She glanced around the room, suddenly needing a drink to drown out the volume of her own thoughts. “Why did you do what you did?”

Ali took back the letter and returned it to her pocket, handling it almost as though it were sacred, rather than trash. "Sit you down," she said softly, even as she seated herself at the table once more. "There are many reasons," Ali continued, without waiting for Sophia to sit down, "most of them true at least in part, but, if you can do nothing else, then let the past be. It has already happened, and there is nothing that can be done to change it."

Frowning, Sophia hesitated, listening before pulling a chair out and sitting on the edge, ready to jump up at the slightest provocation. She was frustrated at how easily the woman had turned the tables on her, and she was not enjoying the memories that had been dug from her mental graveyard. “The past won’t let you be. The past has determined that you should no longer live. Do you think this is fair?”

"Fair is not a matter of opinion," Ali said, nodding as if in agreement with herself. With one hand, she rubbed the marred surface of the table, seeming to stare toward the wall, rather than looking at the other woman. "Our lives are not dictated by what is fair, but in death, all judgment shall be made - that judgment does not bode well for me, not by what is fair."

Sighing, Sophia rested her elbows on the table, propping her chin on her hands. This woman would live, she had decided. Never had she backed down from a kill, let alone an easy one. She frowned to herself. She was getting soft. She would have to go out to prove to herself later that she wasn’t losing her touch – to make another suffer to make up for the suffering she was enduring, despite her best attempts at repression. “I like you.” She bit her lip, studying the woman. “You have nothing to fear from me,” she said as she nodded with finality.

Ali tilted her head to the side, blinking slowly at the other woman. "Tell me your name," she said. "You never told me your name."

Sophia laughed softly to herself. "Nobody I've ever had the intention of killing has ever had time to learn it, let alone use it. My name is Sophia. Sophia Voth." She bit her lip after saying her own last name, biting back the anger of her origins. "I know your name from the poster, but I'd like to hear it from you. I need to hear you say it."

"My name is Tahira Ali," she said, still not meeting Sophia's eyes. "It is an honor to make your acquaintance, Sophia Voth." Ali looked up, then, without making eye contact. "Tell me, why did you decide not to kill me? I was - I was sure you would do it."

Sophia bit her lip at the question, sighing. She glanced over toward the counter, desperately wanting a drink. She was silent for a while, contemplating an acceptable answer to the question. After a while, she pushed away from the table. "Perhaps, someday, I will figure out the answer to that question. When I do... I will let you know." She stood, obviously uncomfortable with herself for her own weakness. "You are the first person I have made changed my mind about killing. I will leave it at that for now. Please, excuse me. I... I am not dealing with that very well." She moves to step to the counter, her mind reeling with disgust at herself for her inability to follow through on a sure payday.

Ali nodded, turning to watch Sophia as she stood, making her way toward the counter. "Go in safety," she said, the traditional farewell, but in English. Ali was alone again. She took Kami's letter out again, spreading it onto the table, sighing as she did so, the letters still legible even in the dim light of the bar, though Ali already knew too well what it said. After several moments, she moved to crumple the page, but even so, Ali couldn't bring herself to do it, and she laid her palm down over the letter, wondering whether it would be a mistake to write again.

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The Encounter: Part Two

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:59 pm

Lonesome at the bar he was, drinking away like a glutton ridden beast. He didn't care for those who watched him throw his life shrouded in guilt and cold blooded murder. There was nothing for him, an Irish American man who lived by the gun and done the dirty work for those who hired him. Now without one to serve, Lucifer spent what he had here at the bar and drank peacefully while wishing for things to change in his shunned life. But something would get his attention whilst he poured himself another shot of Scotch mixed with Bourbon.

A man, a tall man looking almost like a cowboy from the movies, had appeared behind the bar. He appeared to be a nasty fiend, wielding that of a whiskey bottle. Lucifer smirked at this fellow, just wondering about who he thought he was. on the other hand his attention would be diverted elsewhere, more or less towards Sophia as she approached the bar once more. "Have fun?" He asked in a slur of accented words, smirking towards her in a fond way that could possibly make one wonder on just how many women he flirted with and how many he actually came to like.

Sophia was miserable, lost in her own thoughts, experiencing the black memories she had been trying for years to bury. She stepped behind the bar, ignoring everyone, grabbing a full bottle of whiskey and a glass. She left more than enough money in the place where she found the bottle, returning around to the other side of the counter to sit, filling the glass. She was vaguely aware of Lucifer's question. "A blast," she said snidely, draining the glass. How could she possibly have allowed a potential victim to get under her skin. She frowned down into the empty glass as she refilled it, her mind battling the memories the woman had unburied.

"'Eh now! 'Eh!" Lucifer began to announce, reaching a hand out towards Sophia as she began to pour herself another glass. "Take it easy on the whiskey, lassie." He warned, almost falling onto her as he sat up from his seat in an attempt to stop her. "Just cause you're in a bad mood doesn't mean you have to drink your heart like a man, now how about you talk to me for a lil' while, hm?" Lucifer tried to reason soon after as he caught himself from possibly falling from his seat and into a pretty woman's bosom.

Sophia glares at Lucifer, her expression purely venomous, observing his obviously inebriated behavior. "If you drink like a man, I guarantee I do no drink like one." She looked at him defiantly as she tilted the contents of the second glass into her mouth, pouring the liquid fire down her throat, pulling the glass away with a grimace. She looked at him again, questioningly. "Why do you care?"

Cadavar Kindler looked over to Lucifer, eyeing up Cad. It rubbed the eye-ee the wrong way. Cad patted himself down with his left hand, double checking that he indeed did have everything on him. He had, and so satiated himself in that thought. He brought the bottle of whiskey to his lips, taking a drink, and setting the bottle on the counter. “You there.” His hand went to his thigh, drawing a 10 gauge lever action shotgun from its holster. He waved the piece around in the air overdramatically. “Do I strike your fancy? Is that the case, boy?”

Suddenly Lucifer's attention would be directed elsewhere as Cadaver addressed him. "What?" Inquired the Irish American in a low voice, meeting the supposed demon's gaze in a blank stare, catching a glance at his gun as well before turning back towards Sophia. "Because a beautiful woman should never poison herself with her sorrows. And whatever that crone told you, she might as well stuff the words down her dry throat." He reasoned, extending at first as he wanted to touch her cheek with the tips of his fingers. But he would pause along the way, his fingers curling into his palm until he slowly lowered his hand whilst meeting Sophia's eyes.

Cadavar huffed and swung his shotgun by its lever, cocking the thing thusly. He brought it up to aim for Sophia’s drink, and pulled the trigger, firing off its flechette load. Flechettes being the way they were, the shot stayed relatively tight. Enough that it wouldn’t hit Sophia’s hand from the range they were at. “Hey, boy. I was talking to you. You are talking to me now.” He made his demand to Lucifer, bringing the whiskey in his left hand up for another swig.

Sophia bit her lip as her eyes flashed angrily as she looked at Lucifer. She glanced over to Tahira Ali, her expression softening. "Don't call her a crone," she whispered. "That woman..." she shook her head, suddenly protective of her. "Just... don't insult her." She bit her lip, looking up at Lucifer. "I have two ways to 'drown my sorrows' when I need to. One," she held up the glass of whiskey. "I drink it away. Two," she pulled the dagger from its sheath, brandishing it in front of herself. "I kill something." She cocked her head to the side challengingly.

Sophia watched the glass explode in her hand, turning furiously to Cadaver Kindler. "What the hell?" she screamed, the dagger still in her hand. She lifted the bottle of whiskey with her free hand, taking a large swig from it, swallowing as she stared at him. "What... the... hell?"

Lucifer would nod at first as he focused his attention unto Sophia before sighing and re seating himself. "Alright...' He muttered in a low tone before running a hand through his dark auburn hair. But before he could do anymore to reason with the woman, things would be interrupted as Cadaver would fire at the two. Grunting, Lucifer showed to Sophia just how fast he could be as he swiftly left from his seat and came to stand before her with his arms extended in a protective manner. Brows furrowing he stared directly down at the demon's face with heterochromic eyes. "Whatever it may be,' He began, drawing in a breath as he took a second to glance down at Sophia just to see if she was alright. "Don't take it out on a woman. If I dogged you I apologize, I was only curious." He continued, trying to explain things through and to calm this restless being from doing any more harm within this public place. As he spoke however, his Irish tone would be hinted by that of restrained fury.

Cadavar turned his gaze to Sophia. His eyes were not glowing, but instead changing colors, from green, to blue, to red, to orange, yellow, green again, and so on through the cycle. He swung-cocked his shotgun once more, this time in a full circle. It caught into green flame during the swing. Transformed by the hellfire, the shotgun, as it came to rest aimed for Lucifer’s chest, now looked supremely differently. It had a silver skull on the heel of the butt, and the barrel had been reshaped to look like a steel spinal column, with the center where the marrow would be having been the bullets path. Where the wood met the barrel at the top of the rifle was another silver skull, fanged, and with horns that wend down along the rifle to the lever, and curled out to form the shotguns lever. “Well now this is just for fun. You tell me, boy, if you think your chest can take 20 armor piercing projectiles and none of them pass through into the girl behind you?”

Sophia calmly steps from behind Lucifer, annoyed that he would think she wouldn't be able to take care of herself. She held her dagger in front of herself, shifting it into a better position as she lowered herself into a crouch, eying Cadaver angrily. Taking another swig from the bottle, she set it on the counter, turning her complete attention to him, eyebrow raised, waiting, too angry to be the slightest bit scared.

Lucifer frowned as he listened to the sadist's words. They were just alike, him and Cadaver. He could see it in his eyes. This demon might not be exactly just like Lucifer, but he could sense both of them had almost the same heart. And this is what Lucifer respected. Not even moving, not even flinching, Lucifer remained where he stood, now staring the hellfire demon in the eye whilst he tried to at least keep his new friend out of harm's way. But whenever she would step out from behind his casually clad form which consisted of just jeans and a navy blue t shirt, Lucifer cocked a brow. But none the less he wouldn't do anything more except for to lower his hands from their splayed position. No words were to be spoken from Lucifer as of now, and it seemed almost as if he wouldn't move if Cadaver pulled the trigger. However, one could just wait and see as to what would happen next before predicting anything.

Cadavar pulled the trigger. Whatever the man was in front of him, he certainly didn’t seem to mind the prospect of having hot lead in his system. As such, the triple-ought shot flew at Lucifer, lead pellets with loose packing giving a wide spread to puncture a large amount of Lucifer's body. However, It was relatively close range, and most of the shot should hit if Lucy didn’t have something to save him. Cad swung the newly renovated hellfire gun to cock it by its horn-lever. “Well, the boy doesn’t seem to mind. How about you? Are you still water-tight?” His attention returned to Sophia. “Care to dance, little lady?”

Whenever Cadaver were to pull the trigger of his gun, Lucifer would come to save himself by a close shot by grunting and using one of his hidden attributes of flight. He did this by quickly leaping to the side, almost toppling into Sophia before leaping up towards the rafters. Despite calling this a close call, Lucifer would be still stunned by the impact, thus causing his reflexes to slightly slow themselves and to almost cause for him to take the bullets. He was lucky this time of round, and he best damn pray he'd be lucky again for he feared that this demon meant business. On the other hand if he were to try and harm Sophia, Lucifer would more than likely put himself in harm's way for her, his friend. Despite how well she could fend for herself, the Irish American felt it best to settle his own conscious by at least trying to save her life in sacrifice of his own.

The sound of the gun startled her, and Sophia lowered herself even further into a fighting crouch. She took mental stock of the blades on her person, the dagger in her hand, the two in her boots, the two curved blades crossed at the small of her back. She glanced to Lucifer, concerned for him, an abnormal reaction. Hearing Cadaver’s words, she chuckled slightly. “You couldn’t fight without a projectile. You couldn’t fight without that gun.” She taunted him, her eyebrow raised, feeling the alcohol moving through her system, the adrenaline burning it off a bit faster than normal.

Archer at attention as the gunshot rolled through the bar. Sergeant Clatt having warned him of the weapons in the bar long before the first shot was fired.

"We have confirmed weapons discharge, locating targets. Counting three -- one armed, possible scatter rifle. One dagger, tertiary target is unarmed." Archer knew full damn well that 'unarmed' was never the case in any of these. Fortunately, Archer had just finished the assembly of the M-980, the cumbersome 20 millimeter rifle fixed to a four-point stand. Quickly preparing himself, Archer yanked back the bulky slide of the weapon and swung the device toward the bar. From his vantage point, he had no direct sight of any of the combatants -- a 20 millimeter slug can punch a hole in damn near anything, though.

Cadavar brought his left hand to the gun katars at the bottom of his bandoleer, and he tapped the two with the bottom of his whiskey bottle. “And I’m quite sure I carry these around uselessly. The fact of the matter is, it’s much more fun to use sentou kobushi than the melee arts.” He chuckled at the thought, bringing the shotgun to aim for Sophia’s chest. “And further fact would indicate that at this particular moment, I don’t really need to fight without, do I? I can have fun, and this is for fun, after all.” On that note, he pulled the trigger, releasing the third round from the shotgun: a single 3/4th inch wide flechette, which would detonate mere milliseconds after impact, which meant just after it entered its target, it would go off like a grenade.

Ali had been sitting alone for several minutes now, when she happened to look up and seeing two men with Sophia, and all three of them with weapons brandished, in fighting stances, with guns and knives, the woman looking dangerously serene, in the heat of the moment. Struck by some sudden, strange sense of connectedness with this woman who had nearly killed her, Ali stood, making her way over to the three, calling out, "Peace! Why this violence?", as she stood an arm's length away from Sophia, speaking to all of them, with some hint of desperation in her words.

Sophia stared at Cadaver, nervously, watching his fingers on the trigger. As she suspected he was about to pull the trigger, Sophia dropped to the floor, readying herself to jump back up, a few feet closer to Cadaver. Her eyes blazed with anger, and she stayed crouched low to the ground. "What... the... hell?" she asked again, incredulously.

Sophia sees Tahira and her expression grows concerned. "No, Tahira... Get back." Her eyes remained on Cadaver, studying him curiously.

Archer initiated the thermal optics when Sergeant Clatt cursed bitterly.

"What the fuck is she doing?" Clatt managed, before another bark of gunfire escaped the bar. Archer could see four thermal contacts now, one belonging to a new addition to the fray.

"Who the fuck is the third contact on my thermal?" He asked, the Sergeant shaking his head.

"It's Ali! It's Ali!"

"Fuck this -- Intervene." Archer shouted; things were going to get hot. Leveling his scope over the contact brandishing the shotgun, the Lieutenant's first 20 millimeter slug would be aimed directly for the man's torso -- due to his angle alone. Depressing the trigger, the first round was let loose, the electro-conductive slug slicing through the wall of the tavern still dead on course with the shotgunners body.

"Open season." Clatt mumbled as he unleashed two quick rounds from the Nano Rifle; also aimed for the man wielding the shotgun. The 12.8 millimeter nano-shells shattering upon impact of the tavern wall and spraying a fine coating of nano-machines, instructed to disassemble, essentially 'devouring' any carbon-based substances the devices came in contact with, in a swift cone throughout the tavern.

Cadaver swung the shotgun down once more to cock it, and brought it back up, aimed down for Sophia’s chest. “Violence? Why? Simply because it’s fun. That’s exactly what the hell, little lady.” Cad had addressed both Ali and Sophia the same. “You’re a quick little critter, aren’t you?” He fired off another shot at Sophia, releasing the lead pellets on a close-range trajectory for the girl. At this range, they would all be able to hit the body at once. “Hold still so I can decimate you.” He demanded, eyeing up Ali instead of Sophia. “You got something to say, girlie?”

Whenever Tahira would step in the middle of things, Lucifer chose then to jump down from the rafters. Landing by her side he would place a hand upon her left shoulder with his right hand. It seemed almost as if he were warning her to not get caught in the middle of this predicament between two mercenaries and a hot headed hellfire demon. Other than that he chose to remain where he was by her side, watching out for Sophia's safety, whilst lowering his hand from the old lady's shoulder as he prepared to interfere if Cadaver would so much as try to hurt her. Sure there was nothing special between him and this fellow mercenary, but since she was a new friend of his, he felt it the need to defend her.

"Ya allah, tawwaqef! Stop! Please! Stop!" Ali asked, looking between the three, wondering whether or not she should go for one of her weapons, unsure what was happening even as she spoke. "Please stop this madness."

Sophia moves to her left as she notes the finger tightening on the trigger again, escaping most of the pellets but still taking some in her right shoulder. She grimaced at the unexpected pain, crying out in frustration and surprised sting in her shoulder. "What did I do to you?" she asked, moving away from Tahira, trying to drag Cadaver's attention away from her.

Cadaver chortled to himself and brought his shotgun back, smoke engulfing the thing, as he swept it down and holstered it back into his thigh holster. The smoke reformed the shotgun back to its prior earthly form, a standard 10 gauge, rather than “You did nothing against me. Mindfucking the man you were talking to was amusing me. He’s gone now, though… I suppose it can end. Friends?” Cad stepped forward towards Sophia, extending his right hand to the woman. His head went to Ali for a moment, tossing her a wink. “I bet that makes you happy, too, little one.”

Ali stood some distance from the two, and when Cadaver spoke to her, she nodded, once, shortly, before taking a step back. She would not return to her seat until she thought Sophia out of harm's way - the woman had already tried to harm herself that night, and Ali felt it would be somehow dishonorable to permit her to be harmed.

Sophia gripped her dagger tightly, the pain in her shoulder distracting. She glared up at him, eyes narrowed. "Friends?" she asked incredulously. "You... shot me?" She was furious, still lowered in a fighting crouch. "And you shot my whiskey!" She stared at him, unsure what to do. The memories that had been released in her earlier discussion with Tahira demanded blood. "Is it a normal habit for you to go around shooting strangers to rile the people to whom they may happen to be speaking?" She lifted her left hand to clutch at her right shoulder, pulling away a hand wet with blood.

Frowning whilst he stood there beside the old crone, ignored by the hellfire demon's words, Lucifer would do nothing to disrupt him as he spoke to Sophia as if he had left. Shaking his head, he ran a hand through his hair before going to retrieve some money from his back pocket. "All this drinking and fighting is giving me a headache..." He commented to himself as if he were talking to another person. Likewise even if he was addressing someone else he would most likely be ignored. He didn't care for he needn't company to appease his demeanor and personality. "Might as well go pay for my drinks." Lucifer sighed a second later, scratching the head as he held in his hand an American twenty dollar bill. Striding down the bar line now, Lucifer would search for the current bartender or maid as to whom he'd pay for their drink services. None the less, he couldn't help himself but to glance back at Sophia as he noticed that she was hurt, worried that it would possibly be his fault.

"Please, Sophia, walk away," Ali said, stepping forward and reaching for the woman's unharmed shoulder, to gently lead her away from Cadaver. "You are hurt, and in need of medicine," she said, her voice pleading, eyes on Sophia. "Don't do this."

Sophia stubbornly waved a hand at Tahira. "I'm fine," she said tersely, her eyes never leaving Cadaver.

Ali shook her head. "You are not fine," she insisted, in a low tone. "Do not press this situation."

Cadaver shook his head. “I do happen to go around shooting random strangers. It’s entertaining.” He patted the stock of his shotgun at his side with a smile. “Don’t be such a baby. I tell you what, I’ll get the lead out of your shoulder, and give you some whiskey. Sound good to you?” He brought his left hand out, the hand that was still holding his bottle of whiskey. “Go on, take it. I know you want it.”

Soon after he had paid his dues to the tender, Lucifer found himself lighting up a cigarette while heading towards the exit. He had to get out of here, he needed to relax. Maybe in the next hour or so he would return and see if things had changed for the better or for the worse. He didn't bother to wish Sophia a goodbye, or his attack on whom he'd wish to know somehow under circumstances that didn't involve him getting shot at. On the other hand, he enjoyed the challenge. Maybe they would be good friends. Who knew? But one thing was for sure, Lucifer was now outside in the rain, welcoming forth the abyss of darkness he knew oh so well as he vanished into the night, probably to return sooner or later when things were settled down.

Sophia shook her head, gesturing to her own bottle of whiskey that sat neglected on the counter. She didn't trust this one. Cocking an eyebrow, she glared at him. Had he called her a baby? She ground her teeth, vaguely aware of Tahira beside her pleading with her. "Sabine, I'm fine!" she growled, unintentionally letting slip a name she thought she had buried deep in the graveyard in her mind. She didn't notice the slip, but continued staring at Cadaver, cocking her head. She did want the whiskey, but she wanted it from her own bottle. She refused, however, to let her guard down. She lifted the hand clutching her injured shoulder, looking down at the blood. As much as she loved the feel of blood on her hands, it was different when it was her own. "Who are you?" she snarled, still obviously rather pissed off at being shot. The question was, was she more upset about being shot herself or about losing her glass of whiskey?

"My name is Tahira," Ali said, suddenly confused as to the utterance of another name, one wholly inaccurate, despite Sophia's recognition of her from her own wanted poster. She stared at Sophia, wondering whether or not she should insist more firmly on Sophia receiving medical attention for her wound, and hesitantly, reached out to the younger woman.

Sophia looked confusedly at Tahira. "That's what I said..." she mutters, her expression confused, attention distracted from Cadaver for a moment.

Cadaver shrugged and brought his whiskey to his lips, taking a big sup. After lowering it down, he turned away from Sophia. “However ya like. Though I’m Cad, to answer your question. I’ll talk to ya when you have less holes in you.” He began to head out, sinking down into the floor. In doing so, as if he was walking into a deepening pool of water. “G’night, then.” At that, his head disappeared down below the floor, taking the stairs down home.

Ali took Sophia's unwounded arm. "You called me Sabine," she said, looking up at the younger woman. "Let you sit down now, and have your hurt tended to."

Sophia watched in confusion as he left. She relaxed her posture for a moment until Tahira's words caught her off guard. Sabine. She stared at the woman, her expression shocked. "I..." She returned the dagger to its sheath with trembling hands. "I..." She glanced at the bottle on the counter, choosing to ignore the long forgotten name. "No. I need a drink." She moved to the counter, snatching the whiskey bottle, drinking deeply.

Ali followed Sophia, taking a few steps toward the younger woman, til she was standing all but beside her. "Are you all right?" she asked, not pressing the question, for it would be rude to do so, since Sophia had not offered a response to the name Sabine.

Sophia lowered the bottle after a few hefty swallows of the burning liquid. She turned to Tahira, trying on a reassuring smile. "I-I'm fine. It's nothing. I've had worse," she said quickly, glancing at her shoulder. The blood looked merely wet against the black leather. She bit her lip. Sabine. So, that was why she didn't kill Tahira. It made sense now. She looked at the woman, her expression softening. "Don't go putting yourself in danger on my account, got it?"

Ali shook her head. "If I die, I die. It is the fate of every man. But I cannot stand by and do nothing when the life of another is in danger," she said, her words now marked with conviction that for the most part, she typically lacked. "You ought to be more careful, and slower to anger."

Sophia snorts softly as she lifts the bottle once more. The sentence about being unable to stand by when another was in danger made her grin to herself. "I am typically the one putting another in danger, Tahira. A danger nobody has ever survived before, until today. And as far as being quick to anger..." she frowned down at the counter, her eyes following the pattern of the wood grain. "That was uncharacteristic of me." She glances up at her new friend again, a small smile. "Forgive me, my friend, but I must take my leave." She didn't want to admit what she would be leaving to be doing, but she felt the need to be alone.

"Each moment, a thousand times, we make another choice, in vain hopes that in time, our choices might redefine us. Each moment, you choose again a thousand times. Let your choices be made well." Ali nodded, then, and stepped to the side. "Go in safety, ma'salema," she said. "Soon we shall meet again."

Sophia paused at Tahira's words, thinking about them for a moment. She nodded, grabbing the bottle of whiskey by the neck and moved to the door, out into the night. After another moment, Ali too moved to leave the bar, leaving much the same way as she came - quietly, and unobtrusively, slipping away without a word.

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The Encounter: Part Three

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:07 pm

The following day

Sophia pushed her way into the bar, wincing at the brightness. She lifted her right hand to her temple and her grimace deepened as she moved her injured shoulder. A quick glance at her reflection in the window of the door showed her pale face, looking even more so with the dark circles beneath her eyes. She sighed, crossing to the counter where she ordered a whiskey, hoping that the alcohol would dim the hangover, the ache from the shot to the shoulder. She had passed a sleepless night, spending the majority of the dark hours drinking whiskey, and the majority of the daylight hours avoiding the sun, avoiding the memories that were brought to the surface the previous night. When the first whiskey arrived, Sophia gestured for the bartender to leave the bottle, sliding more than enough money across the scarred wood surface. She drained the first shot, unaware of anyone around her, aware only of her pain.

Kuro suddenly appeared on Sophia's shoulder. Sophia turned her head suddenly at the appearance of Kuro before wincing and grasping her head, squeezing her eyes shut in pain. She gave the cat a strange look before shrugging and turning back to her whiskey, pouring herself another shot, lifting the glass in mock salute to the being on her shoulder before tipping her head back and swallowing, grimacing at the ache in her shoulder.

Sophia sipped her whiskey, staring down at the scarred counter, wishing to numb the pain in her head, in her shoulder. She had not seen any particular face in the sea of people when she had entered. Her mind was focused purely on numbing herself. She lifted her left hand, pulling her fingers through her hair, sighing in mental and physical exhaustion.

Ali noticed Sophia from across the room, and hesitantly, stood, making her way over to the younger woman. "Peace," she said quietly, as she stood beside her, not making eye contact.

Sophia turned her face to Tahira, her expression annoyed until she realized who had joined her. Her expression softens immediately, and she lifts her lips in a smile. "Tahira," she says softly, her words echoing in her head, making her head pound. "I am glad to see you well."

Ali inclined her head, noticing that, for the first time, Sophia had addressed her with her name, not her laqab. "And I as well." She gave a pointed look toward the whiskey. "You, Sophia, seem not as well."

Sophia paused, the glass nearly to her lips. She lifted a corner of her mouth in a half smile, almost guiltily, before pressing the glass to her bottom lip, tilting her head back to pour the liquid into her mouth. Swallowing with a small grimace, she shrugged, intentionally trying to give Tahira the impression that she misinterpreted the pointed look. "I'm working on fixing that." She tilted the whiskey bottle over the glass, watching as the amber liquid poured heavily into the glass. "I..." She hesitated, setting the bottle down and frowning at the glass. "I owe you an apology for my behavior last night."

Ali frowned then, tilting her head slightly to the side as she took a seat next to Sophia at the counter, her legs not long enough to reach the floor. "You have little to apologize for," Ali said. "I think you made a good choice then, afterward. But now, I think you are making a bad choice." She reached for the bottle, which was still nearly half full, and then, after a moment's hesitation, hurled the bottle down, smashing it onto the floor. Whiskey pooled out from the broken glass, staining the wood.

Sophia looked incredulously at the whiskey on the floor, the scent rising and tickling her nostrils. She blinked, disbelieving, her fingers tightening on the glass in her hand. She lifted her eyes to Tahira, her expression confused, frustrated. Looking defiantly at her, she lifted the glass to her lips, swallowing the contents, the last of the whiskey. "That..." she sighed. "Well... that probably saved me from another hangover tomorrow, but..." She paused, looking back down at the puddle of numbing liquid, sighing again. "But I still wanted it." She was almost pouting.

Ali rested her hands in her lap, folding them and interlacing her fingers, her face expressionless. She still didn't make eye contact with Sophia. "It is not wrong to want what is wrong, only to do it." She glanced briefly toward the wanted poster on the wall, then looked back toward Sophia. "I know it well, the longing." Her voice was almost a whisper.

Sophia sighed, struggling to remain calm. She placed her hands flat on the counter, staring down at the scarred surface, at the backs of her hands, at her fingernails, ringed in dried blood. She narrowed her eyes as she noticed dried blood in the creases in her knuckles as well. "I am a killer, Tahira. I kill people. I do it for money, I do it because someone else wants it done. I do it because I enjoy it. If I need to, I kill people to allow me to further lose myself... to bury the memories that I am unable to run from otherwise. Alcohol, while not nearly as satisfying as taking a life, numbs me. It takes away the pain." She gestured to her shoulder, trying to convey that she meant physical pain when in actuality, she meant the emotional kind. "I drink, or I kill."

Ali finally looked Sophia in the eye, her own eyes liquid with compassion as she reached out, placing her hands over Sophia's. "You can run from your past, but it will never leave you. You can try to forget the memories you so desperately want to let go of, but until you understand that they have defined you in part, that they have made you who you are now, in part, you will suffer because of them. That is the lesson I have suffered hard and long to learn. Let not you make those same choices." And she looked down then, staring at where her hands enclosed Sophia's on the countertop, noting how in the dim light, her darker skin blended perfectly with the other woman's lighter flesh.

Sophia looked down, avoiding Tahira's eyes, looking down at their hands. How was it that this woman was not afraid of her? She frowned, biting her lip. "No, the past will never leave me. The disappointments, the loss, the mistakes... they are carried along with me. They make it hard to move, sometimes." She shook her head, trying to force herself from the melancholy, looking down longingly at the puddle of whiskey on the floor. "That is why I kill. So I can move."

Ali squeezed Sophia's hands briefly, and then just let her hands rest atop the younger woman's. "The burden you bear is heavy, but movement not impossible. There are other ways to make the mountain move, than to take life. For me, each person whose lifeblood ran out onto my hands only made my mountain taller and heavier. I was blind to it, until sight was restored. Even then, I thought it was too late. But again I was wrong. It is never too late to walk away from the path of destruction." And though her words were spoken softly, so quietly she was nearly impossible to hear over the din of the bar, Ali spoke with both sorrow and conviction. "Please. Let it not consume you as it did me."

Sophia turned her head away. Why was this happening? First, she stopped herself from killing this woman, from collecting a bounty that she really needed. And now she was actually listening to her as she tried to talk her out of the only thing that made her feel alive? She bit her lip, thinking, wanting to please this woman, for the way she reminded her of Sabine. She blinked, forcing the thoughts back, clenching her teeth and setting her jaw before turning to look at Tahira, her expression cold. "The difference between you and me, my friend, is that you have a conscience. I do not."

Ali withdrew her hands, holding them out, palms upward, in a gesture of surrender, before letting them fall once more to her lap. Now separated, she saw that even in the bar's dim light, the tones in flesh between the two women were clearly different when their hands were apart. Ali stared blankly then at the counter, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to look at Sophia. When finally she spoke, her voice was small, almost trembling, and she still did not look at her companion. "Do you remember how it was before you started to kill?"

Sophia’s jaw tightened as she ground her teeth, staring at the intricate lines of the wood grain in the scarred counter in front of her. Her expression grew vacant as her mind wandered, her hands tightening into fists on the surface. Flashes of memory crossed her consciousness. Without realizing it, her body began to tremble, the quake having little to do with the throbbing ache in her head, the pain of her injured shoulder, but rather the weight of things better suppressed. “Yes,” she whispered through clenched teeth, unable to look away from the counter.

Ali continued to stare at the counter, noting its marred surface, memories left behind by drunken and unruly patrons of the bar, carved indelibly into the wood. To Sophia, she spoke, her voice soft as ever, "I remember the before too. But those days are not gone for good." Ali looked away then, staring toward the far wall, unable to look at another. And somewhere, she wondered whether it was possible there was a reason she was still alive, still free, and whether there was some reason that she and this woman had been brought together. Was it fate? The will of providence? Ali was not so certain she believed in these things, in a God that held anything for her but utter contempt and damnation. But it did not seem mere coincidence that they were here, together.

Moving her glance to the empty glass in front of herself, Sophia heard her words. With a snarl, she lifted the glass and hurled it against the wall on the other side of the counter, watching it shatter into thousands of pieces. She jumped up from the bar stool, going… where? She had nowhere to go. The sudden exertion of the throw had reopened the wound in her shoulder and she felt the blood ooze between her skin and the leather. She paced wildly like a caged animal, fury radiating from her body as she crunched through the glass remains of the whiskey bottle Tahira had smashed earlier. She growled to herself as she moved, her fists curled at her sides. Suddenly she moved to Tahira until she was just a few inches from her face. “You’re right. Those days are not gone for good. THAT is exactly why I kill.” She turned from the woman, not wanting to hurt her, but wanting to hurt something, someone. Needing the release she felt when taking another’s life.

When Sophia hurled her glass against the wall, Ali flinched at the sound, shaking her head to get it out of her mind, the same sound as the glass shattering when a bullet strikes it, splintering the glass. "There is still time to end this," Ali said mournfully, her voice hardly audible. "There is still time," she repeated, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. She had not cried in a long time, but now, strangely, felt the urge to release what pent up emotions remained, though she did not understand it.

Sophia stood a few feet away, her back to the woman. The emotion in her words was evident, and she felt it tug at something deep inside herself. No. No no no. She pulled the dagger from its sheath, gripping it tightly, looking around the room in desperation. She stood still for a while, panting, fighting for control. “Why would I want to end it? I enjoy it?” Her words were cold, spoken heartlessly. “The more I kill, the more I bury that which deserves to never be mentioned again.” She spun, attempting to frighten the woman, but found herself hesitating for a moment. She closed her eyes. “I spared your life. You can’t save mine.”

Tears fell unbidden, wet trails of sorrow glistening in the bar's dim light upon Ali's cheeks, though she made no move to wipe her face. "No," she whispered. "I cannot save you. Only you can save yourself from yourself." Ali reached into the folds of her robes, withdrawing her knife, the blade glinting in the light. She held it in front of her face for a moment, and then, with a sudden anger, hurled the knife across the room, its blade stuck by its own force in the far wall, landing in the center of Ali's photograph on her wanted poster. Then her anger was gone as quickly as it had appeared. "I don't need that anymore," Ali said.

Sophia frowned, noticing the woman’s tears. Part of her wanted to reach out and offer comfort, but the concept was so foreign, so unlike her. She turned, staring at the dagger in the poster. Tahira’s movement had startled her, but she kept herself stoic. “You must protect yourself.” She stared down at the puddle of whiskey on the floor, craving it, needing it. The dagger was still clutched in her hand, a familiar tether to familiar actions. She forced herself to focus on it, to remember the lives she had cut short, the blood that had washed over her blade, her fingers. The screams, the pleading, the denial. Thinking about the action was not the same as committing it, yet it calmed her slightly. “Tahira, I appreciate what you are trying to do for me,” she said sadly. “But I’m lost permanently. Its best to use your efforts on someone you can actually help.”

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Detention: Part One

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:10 pm

Meanwhile, the door to the bar would be slowly pushed open, a man in a brown suit would be seen walking into the bar. He also bore a chain of office, and two LDA Agents behind him, one of them was Marlene Angel. Zarek grinning some as he looked around. "Ahh my new bar." He said before he reached out and grabbed a glass of Ambrosia. Walking past Sophia and Tahira. While walking past them Zarek turned to Marlene. "Parliament passed an ordinance for the invasion of Nupleth.. now Chaska needs to get off her ass and rally some troops." He said as Marlene nodded, the Sire sitting at a nearby table.

"You cannot be lost but you can be found," Ali said. She lifted one finger, tapped it once, gently, in the air toward Sophia. "Find yourself first. The rest will soon follow." She looked toward where she had thrown the knife, and sighed. "It is not the best photograph ever taken," she commented lightly. "Perhaps some different place would have looked better." And then, she looked back to Sophia, serious again. "You should put that down," Ali said, nodding to the dagger in the woman's hand.

Sophia looked at the photograph again, seeing another in its place, a memory. Her eyes grew sad as she looked at it, remembering how the mouth had looked curved into a smile, in a frown at something Sophia had done… but most of all how it contorted into an agonized scream, the eyes wide with terror. She closed her eyes, lifting a hand to her brow, trying to massage the memory away. Ignoring Tahira’s advice about the dagger, she wiped at her forehead, her nails leaving pink streaks before she lowered her hand. “Why don’t you just take it down?” she asked quietly.

Zarek would continue to watch Tahira and Sophia. She was a Nuplethian assassin, or so Zarek read on LDA's dossier. Zarek then turned to Marlene. "She's an enemy combatant, do what you do best." He said as he sipped his drink and would watch the fireworks as the single Agent stood up.

Marlene would rise from her seat and adjust her black suit, dusting it off she started to approach the table where Tahira and Sophia sat, Sophia was an enemy combatant and this was war, Marlene had intended her to be the first casualty of war, her steps were well placed and timed as her eyes were directly on Sophia, ready to strike.

Ali glanced back at the now defaced poster, with the knife sticking in it, then looked back at Sophia. "Not for me to do," she said, as if it were obvious. "The Americans want it there, they can remove it as they will." She gave Sophia a small, sad smile. "If they want me, they ought to come for me themselves." That was when she saw Marlene approaching the bar where they sat, and the smile disappeared, straightening, and then turning into a frown, as her gaze shifted to the other woman, though she didn't speak a word.

Sophia frowned fidgeting with the dagger, flipping it from a stabbing position to a slicing position and back and forth, a habit. “How long have you been running?” she asked, suddenly curious how many other assassin’s blades she had escaped.

"Forty-two years since the Americans started looking," Ali said. And then, shifting her gaze back to Sophia, away from Marlene, she narrowed her eyes. "But the time for running is over. It only makes worse what has been done, instead of remedies it."

This was choice, Sophia hadn't seen the agent approach, this was going to be a flawless victory, reaching into her jacket, she would withdraw her weapon, Tahira would now likely see the sleek casing of Marlene's phaser being pulled fourth from her jacket and the distinct whine of the weapon arming before the weapon was promptly leveled on Sophia, Zarek grinning in the background. Marlene speaking to Sophia. "You, stand up." She said as her weapon was leveled on the other's head.

Ali turned then, looking at Marlene, whom she recognized as familiar, her frown deepening. "Sayyida," she said, to the LDA agent, "what is this?"

Sophia froze at the unexpected voice directed to her, Tahira's words forgotten. Her dagger was held in a slicing position, a fidget she had been unaware of. She bit her lip, the remainder of her body unmoving for a moment. Slowly, she rose from the bar stool, her dagger hand moving slowly to replace the dagger in its sheath. Damn and double damn! She had let this woman distract her so much from her surroundings she had been unaware of the woman with the weapon leveled at her until this moment. After securing the dagger in its sheath, she kept her hands lifted from her sides, fingers splayed, trying to convey to the woman that she was not a threat.

Ali stood then, halfway between Sophia and Marlene, not quite blocking one or the other. She shook her head, eyes on Marlene. "What are you doing?" she asked. "What is happening?" And the voice was now like that of a child, hurt, accusing, desperately needing to understand what was happening, though she did not understand anything.

Zarek would grin even wider as she watched Marlene do her work, the Agent was well trained and was watching Sophia's every move. Of course Zarek would then move to stand up and approach Tahira, even if to offer some comfort. "That woman there is a suspected Nuplethian combatant, we're at war with the kingdom, so I had Marlene take care of her." He said plainly as he closed the distance between himself and Tahira.

"Keep your hands up and behind your head." Marlene said as she reached forward and grasped the dagger, or attempted to grasp it, in an attempt to remove it from its sheath and toss it aside. "Hands behind your back." Marlene ordered. "You are aware of the current state of war between Nupleth and the Confederation correct?" Marlene asked Sophia.

Ali whirled to face Zarek, regarding him warily, as one ought a stranger, and when she spoke, it was with the same sudden, fierce anger that had compelled her to hurl her knife at her wanted poster. "War? You are at war?" Ali laughed, a high-pitched, frightening sound, her eyes wild. "You hypocrite; you want to protect your people, then how is this the right thing? What is right to you? To you nothing is right but it be white in your sight!" She spat the words at Zarek. "This woman I count among my friends. You take her, and you have declared war against me."

Sophia lifted her hands as instructed, her back to the agent, a position she disliked. She closed her eyes in grief at the sudden loss of her dagger. Before placing her hands behind her back and answering the woman’s question, she spoke. “There are two curved blades crossed at the small of my back, and a dagger in each boot. Also, a garrote in my left hand pocket.” She left her hands at her head, inviting the woman to search her. She would find no more weapons. “I am unaware of any conflict between Nupleth and anyone else. I am aware only of my orders, the instructions to apprehend or kill my marks for treason.”

Zarek would approach Tahira. Saying little as the older man regarded her for a moment. "Adar was a fool... easily manipulated, you should be rotting in a penal colony right now." He said, his outfit and chain of office denoted he was a powerful individual in the Confederation. The orange and red trim of the Egyptian style collar around his shoulders denoted his prefecture. "I'm not afraid of an old woman like you." He added.

"Kill your marks for treason, interesting... you know your kingdom's backwards law is the reason we're here." Marlene said as she moved to disarm Sophia further, then she snapped a pair of binders on her. "Have a seat.. and tell me.. what is your allegiance with Nupleth?"

Ali's eyes flashed dangerously, and then, just as it had before, the sudden anger vanished. She half-turned, not looking at Zarek. "You don't know me," Ali muttered bitterly. "You don't know her. What do you want of us?"

Obediently sat, turning her attention to Tahira. “Peace, my friend,” she said quietly to her. “No fear, no anger.” She turned her attention back to Marlene, her expression registering boredom. “I would prefer to not discuss my past, but I was born outside of Nupleth.” She hesitated, picking through her life for the only parts worth sharing. “Circumstances led to my being selected to join the Guard as an assassin. I agreed for reasons I will keep to myself.” In actuality, she didn’t think it would be wise to tell an officer of the law that she agreed because of her passion for killing. “Allegiance? Only that they allow me the freedom to do what I want, and a steady paycheck for results. I am here tracking two fugitives, one a young woman, the other the brother to the king.”

Marlene paused a moment, there was only one young woman she figured this assassin would be after, and with that she spoke. "Eva Lazaro is under the personal protection of the Aschen Confederation, you kill her I kill you, so you best strike that mark... and a brother to the king? I don't know who that is.. but eventually Nupleth will fall, Aschen dominance will be asserted." Marlene said before smoothing her suit. "How much money will it take for you to abandon your marks and leave this place? I doubt you want to be caught in the crossfire." Of course this offer was more a favor to Tahira.

Zarek would shake his head slightly. "Are you going to bomb some more buildings?" He asked as he spoke to Tahira. "Allow me to formally introduce myself, I am Tom Zarek, Sire in the Aschen Parliament." He explained as he looked to Marlene. "So this woman has no formal connections with the Nupleth government.. good she can work for us... your continued freedom and an even greater paycheck... if you work for us." Zarek said as he stroked his chin. "Not to mention superior weaponry.. poisons, and powerful energy weapons."

Ali flushed at Zarek's words, but she offered no comment to him, instead turning to face Sophia again, now standing at the woman's side, after she had sat down again. She did not know what to say, and so she sat down again, taking her seat at the bar counter, torn between comforting Sophia and confronting Zarek, but in the end, her mores got the better of her, and she said nothing to either of them, vacant gaze resting on Sophia.

Sophia bit her lip, contemplating Marlene’s offer for a moment. If she returned home without proof of the deaths, she would not get paid. If she managed to get paid without having to provide proof of their deaths, she would be unable to return home… she would be unable to give the money for the one who needed it. She thought about this, doing the math in her head. It would take another 3.7 million to release Sabine, and that was with the hope that they did not raise her price again. In all the time she had been working for the Guard, she had only been able to raise 1.3 million.

Zarek’s words caught her attention and she shifted her gaze to him. “An assassin who is unable to take out her target with a simple blade or garrote is not fit to be called an assassin. An assassin who relies on projectiles is a coward,” she sneered. “I’m here to collect a bounty for two lives. I intend to do so.” She had to. Sabine was counting on her. The death of Thaddeus was a highly sought goal, the reward very large. She couldn’t walk away from that one. The Lazaro woman… the sole surviving member of the Lazaro family, the vile filth who… She turned her attention to Marlene, her expression puzzled. “Why would you protect such a horrible woman?”

"She sought asylum within the Aschen confederation; as for Thaddeus, he's rotting in a penal colony somewhere in the Confederation, if I'm putting two and two together right... look why are you intent on serving a kingdom that is going to burn before the Sectar is out?" Marlene asked confused while Zarek smiled. "You clearly do not know how we do things, we're not using projectiles, we're using superior weapons, and we use blades too. But maybe.. since you're a Nuplethian.. we should just go ahead and take you in as a prisoner of war." He said as Marlene withdrew her binders. "We'll do anything to thwart Nupleth's unjust ways."

Sophia looked at the agent incredulously. “Sought asylum? Penal colony?” She looked down at the floor for a moment while she thought about this. “What kind of people would give asylum to a person like her? And if Thaddeus is incarcerated, then why have I seen him?” She shook her head. “That makes no sense.” Her first instinct as Marlene withdrew the binders was to reach for her dagger, but the sheath was woefully empty. “My reasons to serve Nupleth are my own.” She thought of Sabine, of the fear in her eyes, the pain on her face. “And they are strong.”

"They may be strong.. but we are stronger." Marlene said as she put Sophia's hands behind her back and the binders snapped into place. A Mana inhibition field activated with the binders. "Nupleth does not have the weapons we have, they do not have ships capable of assaulting entire planets, tell me what makes Eva so bad? As for Thaddeus.. you may have caught me on that.. the LDA is searching for him, he's a wanted fugitive, and once we capture him we're sending him to Hadante, our penal colony.. which is where you're going. Let's go." She said as she tried to lead Sophia out the door to the idling black SUV.

Feeling Marlene pull at her, trying to get her to obediently follow, Sophia held her ground, standing firmly, her wounded shoulder aching furiously. “What makes her so bad? Are you really asking me that?” She shook her head. “Let me guess, she fooled you with the ‘I’m a good girl’ routine? Blinked her big green eyes, and you thought that such a tiny little thing couldn’t possibly be evil to the core?” She shook her head, finally moving. Turning back to look at Tahira, she smiled. “Worry not, friend. No fear, no anger,” she repeated. She turned her attention back to Marlene as she was led to the SUV. “I can tell you where I suspect Thaddeus to be, but you have given me no reason to share my knowledge.”

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Detention: Part Two

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:16 pm

"You will share your knowledge, I assure you." Marlene said flatly as Zarek took a rather sizable toke from his Fumerello and leaned back in his chair as Marlene approached the SUV, opening the back door and pushing Sophia into the SUV. Then she climbed into the driver’s seat. "I am aware of her crimes, but the past is the past, we're watching her every move.. though she disappeared for some strange reason.. LDA hasn't mobilized a search party." She said before starting the SUV, the engine turning over heard.

The SUV would drive through the streets, turning a few corners and heading out the gates of the city, driving on a dirt path through a winding road in the plains to the southwest, a small base would be seen. two Quonset huts glinting in the light, a small concrete administration building. "Evil to the core, and what exactly makes her evil to the core?" Marlene asked.

Sophia laughed, the sound harsh and cold. “Aware of her crimes? Watching her every move?” The laughter continued for a few minutes before dying out. “Just as you were sure that Thaddeus was incarcerated?” She shook her head. “Unbelievable. Your people couldn’t find a mouse in a pet store.” She laughed again, hoping to irritate the woman. “You cannot possibly know what her family has done, otherwise you would never have granted her asylum. You claim to be watching every move she makes, but don’t know where she is.” She lifted her face to look up at Marlene through the rearview mirror. “I do.”

"And you will tell us." Marlene said as she turned to pull into the gate of the installation, which opened with a whir and then it closed behind the SUV. "You will tell us everything you know, of that I am certain." She said before bringing the SUV to a stop, turning it off two agents in similar suits to Marlene were approaching the SUV. Marlene stepping out before approaching Sophia, clasping what seemed like a leash to the binders she led the other out. "If you think you will not I promise you.. you will." She said as an agent approached the door to the larger concrete building and opened it. Marlene leading her inside and down a long hallway towards a single gray door that read 'Isolation'.

Sophia rolled her eyes at the melodrama. She had been interrogated before. She had been through more torture than this woman gave her credit for. She followed, obediently, having no reason to fight. She knew she could probably take the three agents if her shoulder weren’t hurt… even without a weapon, and with her hands bound. She had to find out what they knew, however… or what it was they thought they knew. She amused herself while being led to the Isolation Room by imagining the many ways she could take the agents out. Oh, they’d find out what she would tell them. Only that.

When Sophia was led into the isolation room, the Agents sat her down on a chair, attaching a trinnium clip onto the back of the chair to hold her securely into the chair. Two more Agents then stepped into the room and took up positions on both sides of Sophia, the room had two chairs, and a simple metal table, with a light shining down from the ceiling, the two Agents would hold the door open for another agent, who wheeled in a cart with a bright yellow, rather sizable briefcase, then the agent stepped out of the room as Marlene spoke. "Agent Barrett... if you would." She said as a middle aged man with a pair of sunglasses on and a suit, your typical agent sat at the chair across from Sophia, slamming a thick folder on the table. "You will tell us what we wish to know... or you'll refuse.. one of these choices has a future.. and the other does not."

Yawning, Sophia looked at the man who addressed her. What kind of a choice was that? A future? The thought made Sophia want to laugh, and she struggled to contain it. There was no future for her. She knew it. She had always known it. Still, she tilted her head to the side, curiously amused by these proceedings. “Very well.” She sat back in the chair, her eyes scanning the faces of the agents, memorizing features, waiting patiently for the man to continue.

"Where is Eva Lazaro?" The man said flatly, all the agents in the room, had sunglasses which went to great lengths to mask their features. "Where is Thaddeus... We want to know exacts.. what are the circumstances surrounding Eva's background? Why are you pursuing her.." Barrett said, his voice plain and monotone, all while the briefcase was opened, memory interface devices, tasers, syringes filled with a serum to magnify pain, surgical tools, as well as various high-tech tools for torture. Barrett speaking up. "If you freely give us the information we seek, then things will be much easier on you."

Sophia glanced into the briefcase. Scare tactics. She forced herself to maintain a stoic appearance while inside, she laughed. Alright. She would play this game. “Eva was taken from Gambits nearly three weeks ago. Thaddeus is near Gambits, waiting for Eva to reappear, if she ever does. I am pursuing Eva because I was told to, not that I wouldn’t love to get my hands around that sinful little neck of hers.” She sat back, raising an eyebrow, awaiting to see how the information was received.

"He is around the bar, I need you to be more detailed than that." Barrett said as an agent pressed a small pill like device to Sophia's temple, a loud snap was heard and she would likely feel a sharp pain as the device interfaced with her brain, then a small wire was hooked up to the device and ran into a display and an interface as another agent tapped away at the keyboard, another Agent seen preparing the pain serum, loading it into the syringe, while a third zapped the taser as it clicked wildly, a spark jumping from the two prongs, all in an attempt to scare her into caving, of course with the device in her mind, they could tell if she was lying, and her thoughts displayed on the monitor. "You think this is funny don't you?" Barrett said as he glanced to the monitor.

Sophia sat motionless, studying the man. She didn’t even bother looking at the other agents and their activities but maintained firm eye contact with the interrogating agent. “I find it amusing, yes.” She sighed. “Look, if I knew his exact whereabouts, the fucker wouldn’t be breathing. The cleaners would have quite a mess to deal with. He’s worth two mil. Two million, you get me?” She leaned forward, looking at him. “If you knew where a pile of money lay, would you leave it untouched?” She sat back again, thinking to herself – would you tell another person where to find that money?

"Money is no object, I make probably more then you could possibly hunt in your lifetime." Barrett said, it was true that the Aschen paid senior LDA Agents a rather healthy salary. Staring into her eyes, which would be reflected in his glasses he spoke. "Gambit's bar is in the midst of a Warzone.. and if Thaddeus was nearby we would have caught him... tell me has Nupleth taken notice of Aschen interest in its doings? I'm surprised you're not going after Aschen targets." Barrett said as the agents watched the screen. "Where do you surmise Eva is located at.. once again I want to know as much as you can tell me... we'll know if you're lying."

Sitting silently, Sophia gasped as her mission became suddenly clearer. She had assumed that Thaddeus was wanted dead to keep him from taking the throne when the king died, but until he had let Eva escape… until he had followed her here… She closed her eyes, struggling to fit the missing pieces together, trying to ignore the agents for a few moments. Snapping her eyes open, she smiled slightly, and began rattling off facts, each one true. “Nupleth is unaware of the Aschen intent. Nupleth is, for the most part, unaware of the Aschen at all. Thaddeus is near the bar, definitely in Wing City. I believe he has operatives implanted in the bar to alert him and keep him up to date. What the hell is this Aschen thing anyway?” She turned her head to look at one of the other agents, her expression curious. “Eva was taken. From eavesdropping on others in the bar, I have surmised that she was taken by a woman who has every intention of making Eva her slave.” She laughed at this heartily. “I believe the locals referred to her as a ‘drow,’ whatever that is. I want to say her name is Breeze? Bryz? Briz?” She shrugged. “As far as I’m concerned, she can rot in slavery.”

"The Aschen are the very people whom you are in the room with, the ones who intend on destroying Nupleth.": Barrett said as Marlene stroked her chin. "Didn't the Aschen destroy the Drow yahrens ago? We went on a genocidal pursuit of the Drow I believe." Marlene said as Barrett nodded. "So Nupleth is unaware, very good that makes our military plans easier, the element of surprise. So.. I will ask you again.. You say Eva is sinful, that she should rot.. what exactly did she do to warrant this? Why shouldn't we have given her asylum?" Barrett asked as Marlene chuckled. "These primitives are stupid."

Gritting her teeth, Sophia glared at Marlene. “We’re stupid? Yet you’re the ones asking us the questions? You didn’t know where the woman had gone? You didn’t know that there is a drow, whatever that is, that frequents Gambits taking slaves as she sees fit?” Sophia shook her head, spitting on the floor at Marlene’s feet. “Yet we ‘primitives’ are stupid?” She shook her head. “Tell me, did the Aschen decide to attack Nupleth because poor little Eva and some silly little story about slave bands? Or perhaps maybe Thaddeus, being the king’s brother, gave some story about Nuplethian justice?”

"Our reasons for attacking your people are ours and ours only." Barrett said plainly as Marlene spoke. "I'll make a note to keep an eye out for this drow, I'll apprehend her as soon as she rears her ugly head." Barrett then nodded and then the agents seemed to jump when Sophia spat at Marlene, an Agent bringing the contacts of the taser to press against the woman to unleash the electrical current as Barrett spoke. "Don't be spitting at my agents, lest I have you killed right here, right now." He said as Marlene spoke. "You keep dodging Barrett's question, which is more evidence in Eva's favor."

Clenching her teeth and squeezing her eyes shut, Sophia rode the electrical shock from the taser without making a sound. When it was removed, she opened her eyes slowly, breathing deeply. Looking up at Barrett through her lashes, she bit her tongue to keep her from telling him exactly how little he scared her with his threats. She had information. They wanted it. She knew more than they knew, and they knew it. Death was an empty threat. And even if it were a legitimate option, what would she be missing? No. She was not scared. Not even nervous. “Are you familiar with the Nuplethian Slave Bands?”

"Yes it was very difficult to remove but we removed the bands from her, it was a lengthy procedure." Barrett said, surprised that the taser had such little effect on the woman, perhaps he would up the ante with her insults. Death was a legitimate option, as unknown to Sophia, the Agent monitoring the brain feed was picking through her memories with the machine, clacking away to sort through hundreds of terabytes of data, sifting through millions of memories to find what he was looking for. "What of the slave bands?"

Sophia looked at him, startled. “You… you removed them?” She bit her lip, her mind working over this unforeseen possibility. “Was… Was she okay? Did she…” She stopped herself from asking. The tables had turned slightly. If she was able to free Sabine, maybe, just maybe, she could convince the agents to remove the bands from her. She stopped herself. No. In order to free Sabine, she had to kill Thaddeus and Eva, and the more information she gave, the more their deaths were out of her reach.

"Yes, we removed them. It's a very tedious process but it is very possible. We have to put the person under heavy sedatives and painkillers, then we flood them with nanomachines to stabilize the body, interface with their brain so we can monitor brain activity and inject stabilizing code into the mind, by then it's just a matter of cutting the bands off, once they've been removed then the effects are null, we have Eva's bands on hand, as we have yet to destroy them if you'd like proof. And yes, she survived the operation, and is completely normal afterwards." Marlene explained, finally getting a reaction from her.

Shaking her head, Sophia thought about the possibilities. “No, not normal. Eva is a Lazaro. Lazaros… Tell me, was… did you notice… another?” She couldn’t figure out how to put the question in words. “A… a side of Eva that is different from the normal?” She looked at Marlene, her expression betraying the importance of an answer.

"Yes, our computron systems detected another consciousness, not like Eva's signature but something else; we injected code to suppress it, however." Marlene explained as an agent threw a pair of slave bands on the table, they were cut precisely, like some sort of fine beam of energy cut them. "There's your proof that the removal of the bands is possible."

Sophia closed her eyes, refusing to look at the bands. Turning her head away, she thought about the agent’s answer. “She cannot be suppressed by any method other than death and the destruction of all things she touched.” The words were whispered, Sophia’s eyes still closed, her face still averted from the bands.

Marlene on the other hand would be working with Agent Kalfas, Marlene pacing back and forth as the Agent spoke. "So Eva is with the Drow.. Briz I believe our dossier says." He said as Marlene grumbled. "You refuse to tell us what the frak Eva has done so wrong... It's starting to look more and more in her favor unless you start frakking talking!" She shouted pounding on the table. "Before I personally unscrew your head and shit down your frakking neck." She barked getting up in Sophia's face, Marlene getting aggressive.

Sophia sighed, leaning back in the chair. “Eva is a Lazaro,” she explained. She realized Marlene probably had no idea what she was talking about. “She is the last surviving Lazaro. Her family… Criminals. Evil people bent on evil deeds. The king has declared that the Lazaro family should be destroyed. You don’t understand.” Sophia frowned, trying to think about how to explain. “Nuplethian Slave Bands. Her family created them. The knowledge of their form and function lies within Eva. That is” one of the reasons she needs to be destroyed.

Marlene and her Agents would stare at Sophia for a moment. "No mater, we'll find Eva and send you to Hadante for being an enemy combatant, if we can prove Eva is evil, we'll send a ship to release you... in the mean time you'll be sent to Langara, then shipped to Hadante." She explained.

Sophia widened her eyes nervously. If she were taken away, she wouldn’t be able to save Sabine. “Wait… please…” She sighed, biting her lip. “Please, explain why Nupleth is under LDA scrutiny. It is a very peaceful society… or it was, before the Lazaros started working with the Guard to create things such as the slave bands. The king, Eris…” She sighed, not sure if it was even worth it to try to plead the case of the kingdom. “The Lazaros were attempting to take over the kingdom with their inventions. Eris refused the inception, Thaddeus took it upon himself to try to change the law. Yes, I work for Nupleth. Yes, I am an assassin for the Guard… but I am an assassin for the true Guard, not the one you know through Thaddeus,” she sighed, hating the desperate way she sounded.

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Detention: Part Three

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:38 pm

Ali watched as Sophia left, condemning Marlene with her eyes, though she spoke nothing to either the LDA agent or her newfound friend, seemingly unaware of the Aschen sire now sitting next to her, her back to him as she stared out the door of the bar. Ali wondered whether she would see Sophia again, and soon, and hoped it would be so, though she feared she had seen her only friend in the world taken away for the last time.

Zarek said little as he continued to smoke his Fumerello, the smoke wafting through the bar as he turned back to Tahira. "She was ripe for the apprehension, she will be questioned as she has intel vital to the LDA's operations, I promise you, she won't be harmed." He said, though Zarek was lying through his teeth. "I bet your apprehension would make a nice bounty.. too bad the FBI couldn't offer me a good bounty, not to mention the Dollar is nothing against the Cubit."

Ali remembered Zarek's presence, then, and turned back to face the man, holding only condemnation for him. "Where is Marlene taking her?" she asked quietly, knowing full well LDA's capabilities for extracting information from unwilling subjects.

"They probably took her to the LDA Command center, and you know full well that the LDA Has no regulation on how they extract information.. everything from torture and humiliation, to physically pulling data from your brain, so Tahira... what's it like to be a wanted fugitive? What separates you from me is I served my time. I can serve because of Sagittarian Law, my rights restored when I serve my time.. you got off easy."

Ali stared at Zarek's chin, not once having made eye contact with him. When she spoke, her tone was measured, her voice soft, the words spoken slowly. "I live with the knowledge of what I have done," she said, "and with the knowledge of to what I shall be condemned in the hereafter. That is punishment enough."

"Not frakking enough; you should stand before the firing squad. I won't let you manipulate me." Zarek said as his face contorted. "The Gods will punish you eternally after Man has punished you." He said as he smoothed down his tie. "It felt pretty frakking satisfying didn't it? I think I'm going to have a little chat with Adar, have that pardon overturned so you can face Triad."

Ali looked away then, turning her gaze to the bar's countertop. "Do what you will," she said, playing with the hem of her sleeve as she spoke. "Your choices are not mine."

"Damn frakking skippy." Zarek said as he then turned to two LDA Agents standing in the doorway. "Take her away, I'm going to have a talk with Mr. Adar." He said as the Agents approached Tahira.

"But Sire.. the Pardon."

"I want to know where Sophia is," Ali said suddenly, her eyes narrowed, looking back up at Zarek, seemingly oblivious to the approach of the LDA agents. "I want to know what you are doing with her."

"Torturing her, making her scream for mercy." He said as the Agent withdrew a pair of binders, looking to Zarek questioningly.


Zarek then spoke up. "Everyone has their price, including Adar.. Take her away!" Zarek barked as the Agent spoke.

"Place your hands behind your back.. Ma'am."

For a moment, Ali was silent, motionless, an axis around which the world revolved. Then, sudden anger returning, she lunged for Zarek, reaching with her hands to attack him.

When Tahira attempted to lunge at Zarek he tried to duck as one of the LDA Agents quickly sprung into action, attempting to grab her while another one withdrew a taser and attempted to press it towards her, then if they succeeded in defending their Sire, would attempt to throw her to the ground with brute force, even going so far as to attempt a few blows against the old woman.

One of the LDA agents grabbed her, tackling her to the floor of the bar, the stools all askew, as Ali suddenly felt the shock of electricity going through her body, sizzling pain that rendered her immobile for the moment, and numb to the sensation of being slammed against the ground. "Lying. . . bastard!" she choked out at Zarek, furious at his seizure of her friend.

Zarek then hovered over Tahira, smiling. "Now I don't have to worry about overturning a pardon... attacking a member of the Aschen Parliament is not an offense we take lightly. Take her away!" Zarek shouted as Tahira would be cuffed and helped to her feet as Zarek grinned. "Hook, line, and sinker," he said as the agents attempted to escort her out of the bar and towards a waiting SUV.

Ali didn't resist the LDA agents as they led her from the bar, but, steps away from the door, she turned, her demeanor once more demure, and stared directly at Zarek, finally meeting his eyes. "You have done her wrong," she spat, "and you will be judged for it."

"I've done a lot more than one person wrong. I'm going to cash in on that bounty." He said as he laughed a rather hearty laugh as the SUV doors were opened. The Aschen Confederation had arrested Tahira, which meant the FBI would have to extradite her from the Aschen courts through the LDA.

"May God have mercy on you," Ali said, though she was now out of earshot, inside the SUV. "Because I cannot." And she thought, that Sophia had been notoriously wronged, though her own situation was perhaps not much better. What would happen, would happen.

When Tahira was put into the LDA SUV, Zarek would climb into the front of the SUV and still have a rather smug grin. "Okay Agent Jones, let's get the frak out of here." He said as he pulled out an Aschen Cell phone, dialing the number he held it to his ear, waiting for someone to pick up the phone.

Somewhere far away, and yet not too far away, another cell phone rang with a disturbingly childish and immature ringtone, disrupting the sober environment at FBI Headquarters. The thin, frazzled woman answered the phone, flipping it open as she twirled a pen furiously in her other hand. "This is Special Agent Natalie Elisabeth Schultz, FBI," she said, pacing the hall rapidly as she spoke.

"You Americans are frakking incompetent.. it extends to all facets of your society." He said as he chuckled and then paused. "You couldn't apprehend your prize.. but we did.. Agent Jones... make her scream." He said as he turned on the speaker phone, while the LDA Agent tasered Tahira once more, showing the brutality of the LDA and it's rather brutal approach to prisoners. "You hear that? I want fifty million.. Aschen Confederation Cubits... or your agency is going to have to go through a rather.. lengthy extradition process with the LDA."

Ali slumped to the floor of the SUV, her features contorting in pain. On the other end of the line, Natalie flinched at the high-pitched sound, the pressure increasing on the pen in her hand. "I'm not in a position to adjust the reward being offered by the Department of Justice," Natalie said, words coming rapidly. "You will have to speak with the Attorney General's office; I am just the case agent."

"Then the Aschen courts will get Tahira, she'll be either put to death or sent to the Penal Colony of Hadante... if you'd like your criminal, tell the Attorney General to contact the Langaran Defense Agency at the Aschen Embassy in Wing City. Or I could meet you in person... are you familiar with a Thomas Zarek? I personally apprehended your precious Tahira.. with the help of LDA Agents of course.." Zarek seemed dark, arrogant, taunting even. "I'll take 30 mil.. ACB, the current conversion rate has 1.00 Cb at 2.59 USD... I'm sorry but Dollars aren’t my thing." He said as he waited for a response.

Natalie frowned at the man's obvious contempt. She could have done the calculations in a tenth of the time. But. . . what was he saying? The nuances, the nuances. Natalie flushed, though this wasn't visible on the other end of the line. "Are you trying to get me to bribe you?" she said, her voice rising enough that a few heads nearby turned. "I - I - I cannot in good conscience bribe anyone! I have to report you! Immediately!" The pressure on her pen had increased to the point where her knuckles were white. Natalie ended the call and sprinted down the hall, bellowing "CALEB! CALEB, I NEED YOU NOW!"

"You can't report a Sire of the Aschen Confederation, I have diplomatic immunity under section three of the Aschen Technological Trade statute, any attempt to detain me results in a declaration of war... which means a planetary assault, that's thirty mil.. Aschen Cubits." He said as he waited for a response, he found this utterly amusing, then he brought his gaze to Jones. "All right.. we'll let the Aschen courts deal with her.. she can rot on Hadante for the rest of her life."

It was too late. Natalie had already hung up, and anyhow, she would have reported it anyway, because regardless of whether Zarek could be prosecuted, she had to report it. Back in the SUV, Ali came to a sitting position, leaning against the side of the vehicle. "Who...was that?" she asked, curiosity overcoming other concerns, such as her anger at Zarek.

"That was the FBI... this Natalie agent thinks she can prosecute! Me! A Sire of the Confederation! That's frakking laughable Not even my own government can touch me, the will of the people.. and money goes a long way. You better pack some warm clothes Tahira.. Hadante is not a friendly place."

"I do not know of what you speak," Ali said, shaking her head slowly. Half of the things this man Zarek said, she did not understand. It was almost as if he was speaking a different language altogether. She was not Aschen and knew nothing of the Confederation.

"Hadante.. is a penal colony somewhere in the outer rim of Confederation space... you ever study Tauri history? It's like Australia in the 1800s, a penal colony where people were dropped off and forgotten about." He said as the SUV came up towards a small base, a fence around the perimeter, several Quonset huts, and a large concrete building that worked as the admin building. "You better hope the Americans give me my money, for your sake."

Ali frowned then, her eyes narrowing as she concentrated on the man's words, stringing them together for meaning. "What is it you have against me?" she asked bitterly, for ever since she had met him, Zarek had been hostile and snide, clearly contemptuous of her.

"You manipulated Adar. . . you worked the system. . . and you did it without money, without power, without influence!" Zarek said, with a hint of jealousy in his voice. "You escaped justice."

"Manipulate?" Ali laughed, a harsh sound replete of any joy. "I have never done such a thing." But then the conviction in her voice disappeared, as she stared at the base they had approached, wondering where they were, and whether Sophia was nearby. "But it is entirely possible justice will come for me yet. I do not doubt its power." Her frown deepened then, spreading to her eyes. When she spoke again, her voice was soft, the words spoken slowly. "And what would you want? Would you rather the Americans come for me, or that you Aschen exact justice?"

"The Americans have in store for you a lot worse then what the Aschen could ever charge you with... you see... the power of oration is strong, I could never overturn your pardon alone, a lot of bureaucratic feldercarb, no it takes a vote from all of Parliament to overturn the pardon... but alas you tried to attack me, so justice will come.. you will probably be sent to Hadante for the rest of your life." He said as the gate slammed shut behind the SUV, two agents in black BDUs saluting as the SUV came to a stop. "When we get inside you'll be interrogated by Agent Barrett... then we'll give the FBI another call and have them come pay you a visit."

Ali stared curiously at the base as the buildings loomed ever closer, wondering what, or more importantly, who was inside, and what happened here. "Where are we?" she asked, back to questions, imagining any number of possibilities of what would happen next, apparently oblivious to the fact that 'interrogation' with the LDA would probably entail torture, or at least some level of physical and psychological discomfort. But that was the trouble with the English language. Ali did not entirely understand it, or its nuances, and she had trouble with comprehension when others were speaking.

"LDA Command base on Terra, the hub for all LDA Activities on the surface, it has facilities to conduct high-level operations in tandem with Hypatia One, the LDA Carrier in orbit." One of the Agents explained as Zarek looked to Tahira for a moment as the SUV came to a complete stop.

"This base is the hub for Aschen activity, it reports to a ship in orbit, which reports to Langara." Zarek explained, when the SUV came to a stop, an agent opened the door, and with a firm grip, moved to 'help' Tahira out from the SUV, and lead her towards the large building, Zarek in tow. Two large Trinnium doors opening up with a hiss and a chime, revealing a brightly lit lobby with several Agents working maps, computrons with holographic screens, and a long hallway that led to a series of interrogation rooms.

Ali looked around as they entered the building, immediately struck by the sterilized, institutional atmosphere of the command base, the fixtures inside sleek, modern, and utilitarian. "And the LDA is your law enforcement," she said, her words a statement, not a question. She half-turned, stopping in her tracks, looking at Zarek, her eyes narrowed. "Is Sophia here also?"

"The LDA is more so an umbrella organization.. how it works is you have several divisions, from Military, like Shore Patrol, and Home Fleet, to intelligence, like OIA, the branch Agent Angel is part of, which functions as an Intelligence agency, you have the Investigative Division of the General Affairs Department, which answers to the Overt Intelligence Agency, ultimately the Minister of Defense.. high level crime is a matter of Defense." The Agent leading Tahira into one of the rooms as Zarek answered her question.

"Sophia's location is classified.. and you want a simple explanation of the LDA? We're the Aschen Secret Police." He said as an Agent helped Tahira into the room, the walls were a whitewashed concrete block, the floors a white linoleum, a single light hanging from the ceiling, shining upon two metal chairs, and a metal table, Zarek then spoke. "I'll leave you alone with Barrett for awhile." He said as an older Agent stepped in, throwing a large file folder on the table that read. 'Ali, Tahira, A-3 Clearance.'

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Detention: Part Four

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:48 pm

Ali stood, unsure of what she ought to say or do, in this room, as the older LDA agent entered the room. She turned, gaze falling on this man, though she did not meet his eyes, and then she noticed the file folder with her name on the label. Ali's eyes narrowed then, wondering what "A-3 Clearance" meant, and what was in this folder, but then she looked back at the agent, saying nothing.

The somewhat older, maybe middle aged Agent would then adjust his glasses and then slowly, and rather calmly, unwound the twine holding the folder shut, then he pulled the folder open, which had a rather extensive dossier, from the FBI, various LDA Files, and even abductions and interrogations of members of Al Qaeda. "As you can see, we've had our eye on you for quite some time now, Miss Ali." He said, his voice very calm, almost robotic, a tone akin to Carl Sagan. "You seem to be leading two lives.. the demure Tahira Ali that we all seem to deal with.. and the violent killer who attacks out of nowhere, one of these lives has a future... and the other does not." He said plainly as he looked her in the eyes. "Why did you attack the Sire.. and what interest do you have in the assassin Sophia Voth?"

Ali did not meet this man's eyes, staring at his chin instead, as a sign of respect, though chances were that he wouldn't realize this was a cultural phenomenon from her homeland. She listened to him, though she struggled with the man's words, the comprehension of the English, to understand what he was saying. When she spoke, her words were measured, deliberate, and slow. "I have killed no one but since twenty year ago. Sophia Voth is. . . she is a. . . a friend to me. And Sire Zarek, he took her against her will, though she has done nothing."

"What you think you know about Sophia is irrelevant, we were bringing a known terrorist to justice..." The Agent said simply before he flipped through her folder some more and then looked back up to her, grumbling that she wouldn't make eye contact. "I'm going to arrange for the FBI to send a contact, and we'll let them decide your fate." Barrett said as an Agent walked into the door handing him a phone, but it had no cord, instead a small antenna. Then Barrett, the middle aged man flipped through a small book, then dialed a line to first, the US District attorney's office. Zarek wanted his 30 million in Aschen Confederation Cubits, Barrett was not about to deny the Sire his money.

"Sophia is no terrorist," Ali said, shaking her head slowly, but after that she said nothing, sliding her gaze sideways to the folder in Barrett's hands. The agent was far taller than she, a man she had never seen before, and vaguely hoped she might never see again.

In Washington D.C., US District Attorney Evan Drummond's secretary answered the phone. "US District Attorney Drummond's office," she chirped cheerfully, while simultaneously filing a few notes in neatly ordered stacks on her desk.

"My name is Agent Barrett, I represent the Aschen Confederation's Langaran Defense Agency." He said in the same droll tone into the phone. "I want to speak to the Attorney General, assuming he has the appropriate classifications." He said as he waited for an answer. Barrett seemed to be a calm, rather assertive man, the type who always seemed to be in control. The other Agents would simply watch Tahira. One of them replying. "Sophia has ties to Nupleth, a kingdom whom the Confederation is currently at war with."

On the other end, the secretary laughed. "Agent Barrett, this is Washington D.C.'s district attorney's office, not the attorney general's office. But I can patch you through to the correct number. One moment, please." A moment later, the call was connected to the Attorney General's direct line, and an older woman's voice came on. Naazmat Chakladar.

"Hello, Chakladar speaking," the Attorney General said, in a half-bored tone, the other secretary apparently not having informed her who was on the line.

Meanwhile, Ali frowned at the other agent's words, turning to face him, Barrett now behind her. "What?" she asked, her voice resonating with the same bitter tone she had taken earlier to Zarek. "And in war, all is fair, and all may be justified?"

Barrett waited a few moments, then when he was greeted he would speak up. "My name is Agent Barrett, of the Aschen Confederation's Langaran Defense Agency, I've called to discuss.. the reward for a one Tahira Ali, you Americans are apparently not competent enough to capture a small old lady, it was fairly easy if I dare say... I want the rewards in Cubits, thirty million, no more, no less, that's roughly 78 Million United States Dollars." Barrett said as he awaited a response.

Agent Jones on the other hand would keep his gaze on Tahira. "All is fair in war, you eradicate the enemy and bring them into submission, that is how wars are won."

"Agent Barrett, the reward we are offering is 25 million USD," Chakladar said, frowning as she tapped a pencil against her desk. This was an unexpected call. "I would be happy to take the matter up with the appropriate committee, but in our government, no one person can overturn decisions handed down by an organization, in this case the Rewards for Justice Program, which works in conjunction with our FBI; however, I doubt that we could grant you much more than what we are already offering. It is unheard of, in fact. But I was under the impression we had a treaty with the Confederation? Didn't part of the treaty cover extradition? If the LDA has custody of Ali, then I would assume your government would extradite our fugitive." Being the Attorney General, Chakladar wouldn't necessarily oversee matters in the Department of State.

Ali shook her head, looking at Agent Jones this time, though she still did not make eye contact with any of the LDA agents. "At what cost?" she asked, enunciating each word carefully, for emphasis.

Barrett paused for a moment. "The Aschen-American treaty covers Technology and resource trade. Under Section Three of the Aschen Extradition act passed by the quorum, extradition is directly overseen by the Langaran Defense Agency, as it is an LDA Matter. It's not our fault your dollar is worthless against the Cubit. Sire Zarek wants his reward, he finds it unfair that he gets jipped out on his reward because your dollar is worthless, you know where our Command base is.. draw up the Extradition paperwork, I'll have them submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the end of the Cycle." Barrett said into the phone, somewhat frustrated.

Jones would keep his gaze upon Tahira. "Whatever it takes." He said as he went back to watching Barrett try to negotiate the reward to have it transferred to Cubits.

"War has destroyed far too many lives. There is a personal cost to it, too," Ali said, her words marked with some tinge of emotion that she tried to no avail to suppress completely. She seemed oblivious to Barrett's 'negotiations', her vacant gaze resting on Jones's chin. "All cannot be fair in war. What is the purpose of war? All it does is destroy. . . lives. Families. Nations."

"Look, I can't do anything about the exchange rate. The reward is being offered in an exact amount in dollars, not in cubits, or adjusted for inflation." Chakladar saw another incoming call blinking red. "Hold on," she said, and switched lines. Several moments later, she returned to the line. "My apologies. President Maynard's chief of staff wants me now. I can't do anything about the reward amount. I'm sorry. I'll talk to the committee and see what they say. But I'm afraid what you want is something no one person can give." Chakladar held the phone away for a moment, her voice coming through as tinny and distant. "What? Yes, I told him I'll be there in one minute." Back to normal volume. "I'm sorry. I need to go. It was a pleasure speaking with you, Agent Barrett." And then Chakladar hung up.

Gods damn incompetent Americans." He huffed and then he turned to Tahira after setting the phone down, the phone chiming a rather pleasant chime. "Sweet mother of Artemis." He said plainly and then he turned to Zarek. "Negotiations a no go." He said as Zarek growled.

"Gods Damnit... alright then we'll just prosecute her through our system, she can spend a few Yahrens in Hadante."

Barrett then nodded. "When she's served her time in Hadante we can hand her over to the FBI. Or we can do the right thing and give the families their closure." Zarek then growled.

"I guess I'll take my eleven million cubits, all cause a country can't run an economy, send a missive, we have Tahira and are awaiting extradition.. but I think we'll try her for attacking me first." Barrett then nodded, typing up an E-mail to Agent Schultz.

"From: [email protected]
'Aschen Confederation has Tahira Ali in custody, draw up extradition papers and extradite her via Ministry of Defense.. we'll hand her over once she has been tried by our courts. - Barrett" He then sent the message and closed the lid, turning to Tahira.

"Power up the Chappa'Ai, we'll send her, and Sophia to Langara for Triad." He said as he stood up and glowered down at Tahira. "Mark these days as the beginning of your last." He said before walking out.

Ali glanced at Zarek, the frown deepening on her face. "You think you understand justice," she said, even though the man was leaving, "but you understand nothing." If Ali were not in binders, she would have went after the corrupt Sire again, but as it was, she remained where she was in the interrogation room, standing, the three LDA agents still there.

Natalie was talking to Caleb Pothier, the FBI's liaison to the Attorney General's office, when her Blackberry beeped. New email. Natalie opened it, scrolled through, and then frowned. Typing quickly, oblivious to Caleb's annoyed expression, she wrote:

"From: [email protected]
'All requests for extradition need to be submitted through the Department of State. I will have to speak to the someone from the Department of State's offices, as they need to draw up extradition papers to send to the Aschen Ministry of Defense.'

She pressed send, and then squinted, half eyeing the device before she looked up, seeing Caleb there, and twitched. "You were saying?"

Zarek smiled and then he turned back to face Tahira. "May the Lords of Kobol have mercy on your soul, for we will have none... it's a shame you couldn't fetch a higher price.. I know some slave traders in Chulak.. but if it were not for the Aschen Government's strict Anti-slavery laws..." He said shrugging. "I have a Confederation to run." He said before rounding the corner as a loud clunking was heard, whirring and something powering up. The three Agents leading Tahira out of the room, all while Marlene and her agents grabbed Sophia, they weren't gonna hear her plea, helping Sophia up onto her feet they began to escort her out. "You'll be spending your days on Hadante." Marlene said as her men took the binders and looked out the hall, as Tahira was helped out, Sophia was helped out, both of them in binders and being led to an elevator.

Ali started at the sight of Sophia, her eyes widening, turning towards the other woman. "Sophia - are you all right?" she asked, the words tumbling from her lips, almost stammering as she spoke, the sudden rush of English unfamiliar. If it were not for the binders, Ali would have reached out and embraced the other woman, but she was restrained and unable to do so. "What have they done to you?"

Sophia followed, her mind racing. She had to find a way out. If she were to go away, Sabine would… She couldn’t bring herself to think of it. Outwardly, she acted obediently, wincing at the pain in her injured shoulder, not bothering to fight the agent as she wanted to. Upon seeing Tahira, she froze. “What is she doing here?” she turned to the nearest agent. “She’s got nothing to do with this. You must let her go!” She turned her attention to Tahira, scrutinizing. “Don’t worry about me. Are you all right? What are you doing here?” She looked at Marlene, her expression full of hate.

Marlene would lead Sophia into the elevator and look back at Tahira for a moment. "She's here for different reasons, but rest assured you're both going to Hadante." She said as the elevator doors closed in the rather roomy elevator cab, and then it began to make its descent into the lower levels the sound of powering up and whirring growing louder as the elevator came to a stop, the doors would then open as a rather large stone ring with red chevrons adorning it was seen spinning and lighting up as an LDA Agent saluted Marlene and Barrett. All while the gate activated, shaking the ground and causing it to tremble, then a massive shimmering portal of water appeared before them within the ring, Marlene speaking up. "The Chappa'Ai."

"I am fine," Ali responded to Sophia's question, the answer rote, and delayed by delayed comprehension of English. Then, with Sophia and Marlene, Ali turned to Marlene, seeming to recognize her as if for the first time since she had emerged into the hallway upstairs. "I remember you, Marlene, mother of Raphael," she said, addressing Marlene per Arabic naming convention. The words were not spoken in an accusatory tone, but rather a thoughtful one, a tone stating a fact.

Frowning, Sophia looked around. Everything was foreign to her. She noticed how polite Tahira was and it infuriated her. The woman had done nothing! She angrily clenched her fists in the binders, trying to stifle her fury. “I can’t go anywhere, you don’t understand!” She twisted away from one of the agents leading her. Knowing the move would do her no good, she raised a leg as she twisted, trying to catch one of the agents in the side.

"Sophia!" Ali cried, lunging forward, though she could not reach out for the other woman. "Sophia, I - I - that man, that terrible man, he took you, and you had done nothing," she said, referring to Zarek, half-wondering whether Marlene remembered their last encounter.

Marlene would look to Tahira a moment. "Nothing personal I'm just doing my job." She said before she quickly saw as the Agents restraining Sophia quickly acted, a button pressed and the binders pumped a powerful electrical current through Sophia's body, it was enough to subdue a 400 pound man high on pattern, so clearly it could subdue this woman. All while one Agent withdrew a can of stun spray, comprised of concentrated capsicum, and sprayed it in Sophia's face.

"Stay still!" He barked while Marlene spoke.

"Agent Riley.. enough.. she's subdued." She said as they led the two closer to the shimmering portal.

"No!" Ali cried, as the agents shocked Sophia, and then sprayed the stun spray. "No, please, stop," she said, tears coming to her eyes. "She has done nothing. . . she has done nothing. . . " Ali repeated the words like a mantra, as if to reassure herself that everything would be all right, that Sophia would not be forever damaged by this turn of events.

Fought the scream that bubbled up from inside of her at the pain of the current from the binders, refusing to release it... She would not scream, absolutely not. The tears falling from her eyes were degrading enough. She gritted her teeth, grunting slightly, falling to her knees, doubling over, tears running unwanted down her cheeks. From far away, she could hear Tahira’s cries, but could do nothing but ride out the pain, eyes squeezed shut involuntarily. These people were going to pay. She focused on the pain, the anger, forcing herself to focus it all into a usable energy. Her body shook as she attempted to contain it, to fight the urge to fight tooth and nail against her captors.

Despite Sophia's struggling, the Agents pulled her to her feet, despite the ruthless torture they tried to subject her too, then they forced her into the portal, which seemed to hurl her through a wormhole, when on the other side, Sagittaron Spaceport Gate Terminal Alpha would greet them, high glass ceilings, showing towering skyscrapers all around, mountains to the east, and ocean to the west. An Alien world greeting Tahira, and Sophia.

Once on the other side of the 'Chappa’Ai' the loud rumbling would stop as the portal disengaged behind them, it wasn't but moments before the Agents quickly secured Sophia, they were going to transfer her to a higher security facility, due to her outburst when they were at the LDA Command base. Cool, almost cold air would blow through the terminal through open doors when the Agents escorted them out of the terminal, out into the streets, the tall buildings of Sagittaron greeting Sophia as this time, a black prisoner van was seen coming to a stop before them. Marlene speaking up. "Now that you resisted us we have to transfer you to a higher security facility." She said as the Agent opened the back door of the van.

Sophia couldn't even lift her head, the pain she had received from the binders sapped all of her energy. Her eyes burned from the spray, and she was livid. She ground her teeth, not fighting anymore. Not now, anyway. She would be no good to Sabine dead... she was no good to her now. Her shoulders slumped in defeat as she eyed the van from under her lashes. "I've done nothing wrong," she protested, her voice sounding far more pathetic than she wanted it to.

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Whispering Mountain: Part One

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:59 pm

"All's fair in war." Marlene said as the two Agents pushed Sophia into the van, attaching her binders to a special clip in the seat to hold her in position, then Marlene, and her fellow Agents stepped into the van. "You walked into the Command base spouting that the LDA Would never break you, look at you, you're battered, defeated, all because you wouldn't assist us, work with us, you will spend your days in a Prison, before you're sent to Hadante. You claim Nupleth is just.. yet you resist us at every turn.. we're just trying to get to the bottom of this."

Sophia snorted. "You care nothing about Nupleth. And I'm not defeated..." she sighed, wearily. "Your methods stack the odds in your favor..." She turned to look at Marlene, her expression venomous. "If I were free from these damn binders, you would be free from your life, Agent." She sneered at the last word. "There is a point where a person stops thinking about their kingdom and starts thinking about their own lives. You've infringed upon my own life. My actions have nothing to do with Nupleth."

"I assure you, even if binders were not in the equation you would be dead before you so much as flinched." She said as the van continued along its course through the city streets. "Even if you killed me and managed to escape, what then? Do you think you can survive in this city, with every agency from the local Police, to the LDA hunting you down? Do you think you could leave the planet with no money? I suggest you shut the frak up and take your torture.. I'm not satisfied with the information we've extracted. When we reach the prison complex.. you will tell us everything."

Sophia ground her teeth as she realized the Agent was right. "Threatening me will get you nowhere." She turned her head away from the agent, her vision still too blurry to see anything clearly outside of the van. "Why should I tell you anything, and why do you think that what I have to say can be trusted?" She raised her eyebrow. "You get more flies with honey, Agent. Not with weapons and empty threats."

"You've a point, so you'll be sent to Hadante until we can verify your claims and your information, if we find your information to be false, we'll not only kill you but we'll find Sabine." She said as she threw another card into the mix. "Your thoughts betray you, Sophia." She added as the van turned onto a side street, a tall building seen up ahead, even if to Sophia it was a silver blur.

Sophia froze at the name. Her hands clenched into fists behind herself. She tried to act as if the name meant nothing, but fear gripped her heart. "I'm sorry, I don't know what you are talking about," she said quietly, her shoulders stiff as she looked out the window.

"You're a terrible liar. I'll be sure to inform Operations over at Section to send someone to eradicate your precious Sabine. Or you can start talking." She said as the van came to a stop before the large building, it wasn't the LDA Headquarters like Marlene originally intended, it was a maximum security prison outside the city nestled atop a mountain overlooking the city, intended for high level criminals and political prisoners.

Sophia frowned, biting her lip. If Sophia were to be killed, perhaps the best thing for Sabine would be for her to be killed as well. At least then she'd be free of the torture she was submitted to on a daily basis. "Again, I don't know what you're talking about. And I don't see what it has to do with me talking." She cleared her throat, turning to Marlene. "If I'm a terrible liar, you are a terrible interrogator." She smirked, turning her face away again.

"As I said, your thoughts betray you." Marlene said as she shook her head slightly. "You want honey? Fine.. if you start talking I'll send agents in to extract Sabine, transfer him or her to the Hypatia One, then here to Langara so they can go through the slave band removal procedure. But only if you comply." Marlene said as she narrowed her eyes.

Sophia turned her head. "No. Since I have information you want, here is what I want in return. I want to be free to kill Thaddeus and the Lazaro woman. I want to go back to Nupleth and inform Eris that he should send an ambassador to discuss matters of the kingdom with you. I am in no position to do that." She intentionally refused to rise to the bait dangled by Marlene with the offer about Sabine.

Meanwhile Tahira would have been taken to a prison van that was closely following the lead van towards the maximum security prison complex, tall barb wire electrified fences with a force field barrier circling the fences in the form of a blue shimmering wall. Barrett would be watching Tahira. "You will face Triad, once you have been convicted you will be given your sentence, the Sire is pushing for you to be sent to Hadante.. but personally, you will probably get a fine, it all depends." He said, looking out to the city of Sagittaron, which was likely a familiar sight for Tahira.

Ali would have resisted, briefly, when she was separated from Sophia after only so short a period of time, and the other woman cruelly tortured, but once inside the second prison van, she turned her gaze to Sagittaron, a city familiar to her, as she had seen it once before, in circumstances not wholly different from those at the present. Ali listened to Barrett's words without expression, and then said, "I have no money to pay a fine, were your courts to order one." What she did not add was doubt as to whether the Aschen courts would in fact convict her without more evidence than the testimony of a clearly corrupt man.

"I think you can spend the rest of your life on Hadante.. sounds like a much better alternative while Nupleth burns to the ground." Marlene said, shrugging as Sophia didn't take her offer. The LDA had always ran things their way, and if no one wanted to run things their way, then no one would get anything, pulling out a phone Marlene flipped it open. "I could care less about Thaddeus, but until the government is convinced otherwise, Eva is under our protection, I’ll just make this phone call so Sabine can be tracked down and done away with." She said as she waited for an answer. "Operations.. it's Agent M.. I need you to do me a favor... send Michael in to do a little chore for me.. I'll transmit data when I've processed my prisoner." She said before flipping the phone closed as gates closed behind the vans, and the force field engaged across the roadway.

The two vans then came to a stop, this is where LDA Agents got off. Prison guards seen in black Combat gear, armed with stun batons seen approaching the vans. On both Tahira's and Sophia's vans, back doors opened to reveal these rather intimidating riot police looking figures, Marlene looking to Sophia. "This is where you get off." She said flatly. A Guard preparing wrist and ankle chains and irons, placing them on Sophia followed by a metal collar attached to a long pole with a loop, much like a leash.

Barrett, in Tahira's van would say something similar as wrist and ankle irons were held in the guard's hand. "Your destiny awaits." Barrett said as he helped Tahira to her feet, the wrist and ankle irons placed on her, and chained together to restrict movement, but not immobilize her, prison shackles, and a collar placed around her neck, attached to a pole that had a loop for a Prison guard to grip to control Tahira.

Ali closed her eyes as the prison guards chained her. Even in her country, they would not do this to their prisoners. Collars were meant for animals, not for people, not even people the government hated and wanted dead. "Ya allah, saa'idni," she whispered. Oh god, help me. If ever she needed strength beyond her own, it was now.

Sophia would be quickly whisked off to her holding cell, interrogated later on, now the focus would be on Tahira. The guard would have a firm grip on the pole connected to her collar as he led her through the main gates of the prison building. Surrounding Tahira would be the most hardened criminals in the Confederation, those who had the luxury to be in a Langaran prison. Bright red jumpsuits trimmed in black as people lifted weights, sparred, and would be gathered in various packs, guards seen everywhere, black riot gear and long stun batons, all the prisoners chained to a degree, though the binders were off Tahira by now, they were only replaced with chains and shackles, the guards leading her through the prison, which was fit for murderers, terrorists, one of the highest security prisons in the Confederation.

As she moved, the chains clinked and rattled against each other, the collar around her neck half-choking her, or so it seemed to Ali, with the metal's vise-like grip enclosing around her throat, the guard for all intents and purposes forcing her along the hall. The clamor inside the prison was unlike any cacophony she had ever been subjected to, the sounds of voices and grunts and the occasional shout mixed with footsteps and the rattling of chains other than her own, the Aschen guards scattered like fences of one.

"La haula wala quwata illa billah," she murmured, her voice audible only to the guard escorting her, the words not rote, but heartfelt. There is neither change nor power but by God. What was happening now, to Sophia, to her, was the will of Providence, else all was damned to chaos and void. Ali did not know where she was, she did not understand this place, and if all were honest, she was afraid. "A'ozu billahi min as-shaitan ar-rajim." I seek refuge in God from the accursed adversary.

The guards continued to escort her through the halls of the prison, chain link fences separating the people, a force field mingling with the chain link with a bluish shimmer about the trinnium links.

"Hey look, they arrested some old hag!" One of them shouted, rattling the fence causing a fluctuation in the field.

"Welcome to the suck chesh hassak!" Another barked. Prisoners gathering around while guards moved to disperse them, shouting and waving their stun staves about.

"Disperse, nothing to see here, ear greeven!" They barked and began to stun prisoners and disperse them. Tahira being led through another hallway and a catwalk over another prisoner common area. Towards a large chamber that resembled a courtroom, but the walls were a white color, the carpet a dark burgundy, sleek metal podiums adorned the stands, three figures in grey robes standing at the higher podium. Tahira being led into the room to stand before the three figures, who seemed to be Judges in this society.

Ali averted her eyes from the other prisoners, staring at the ground as she was led through another hallway, and finally into a chamber evocative of the grand courtrooms of Mutalistan, three others in grey robes standing at a podium in the front of the room. Ali did not make eye contact, her gaze still on the floor. This was out of respect for authority, though it was cultural, and she was unaware that her lack of eye contact might seem disrespectful. The judges said nothing, but Ali murmured, "Astagfur'allah," God forgive me, mostly to herself.

The lead judge, Travell, was an older woman, the two other judges standing at each side of the woman, because Tahira was not an Aschen Citizen, she was not allowed counsel, or any other legal amenities, the three Judges were the only others in the room save for the guards, all of them looking down at Tahira as Travell pounded a gavel.

"Triad now begins." She announced as a book was presented before Tahira by one of the guards, its texts in what appeared to be Greek letters.

"Place your left hand on the book, raise your right hand." The guard said then took a breath. "In the name of the Lords of Kobol, do you swear to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"

Ali stared at the man for a few moments, and then rested her left hand on the book, raising her right as much as she could with the shackles, and stammered back, stumbling over the English, "I so swear," her voice so soft she almost couldn't hear her own words.

"We're going to make this simple, and speedy..." Travell said as she read through the holographic text that was displayed before her. "You are charged with Attacking a member of the house of Parliament, unprovoked, in an attempt to kill him, this act places your pardon with President Adar in jeopardy, Parliament is deliberating on this, keep in mind anything you say will be used against you, and Parliament is watching as we speak, what do you have to say in your defense." Travell said, her voice filled with authority.

"I did not want to kill Sire Zarek," Ali said, still staring at the ground, her voice almost a whisper. "He had - he had seized another woman, a friend to me, Sophia Voth, and for no reason, and had harmed her, this but hours hence. I - I did attack the Sire, but out of ...what is the word... righteous anger. It may not have been right, but 'twas not, as you say, unprovoked."

"The Sire's testimony, read here..." Travell said as she flipped through the text and then tapped away at the screen. "Given your background with political figures, he claims you attempted to assassinate him, were you aware that this Sophia Voth is an enemy combatant in a state of war with another nation?" Travell asked as the other judges remained silent. "Were you aware of the repercussions when you made the choice to attack the Sire?" Travell continued. "Our government was under the impression you were trying to amend.. tell me are there any reasons beyond 'righteous' anger you attacked the Sire? What gives you the right to attack him in the first place?" Travell asked.

Ali shook her head. The English words were coming too fast. Her response was delayed by several moments of silence as she struggled through the judge's words. "I know of no wars between any nations," she murmured. "I have not acted in violence against any other in twenty years but for what happened today. The Sire did not only seize my friend, but also spake unfairly to me, that he thought it unjust what President Adar has done for me, but that, in his own words, 'everybody has a price'... He spake poorly of my friend, and that is a breach of honor."

Travell paused a moment as she took awhile to consider Tahira's words. "The words of a criminal lord.. an interesting choice of words for someone as... astute as the Sire." Travell said as she stroked her chin in thought. "Nevertheless, you attacked the Sire which is a breach of Aschen law under article five. We are merely mitigating the circumstances. The American government still seeks you, and your pardon with our government hangs in the balance, the fate of your friend is of no consequence; she is associated with the enemy; so we will make this simple... to the charge of Assaulting a Parliament member, how do you plead?"

"Aastagfur'allah," Ali repeated, still staring at the floor. "Of that, if nothing else, I am guilty."

"Very well, under Section two, of Aschen penal code, you have been judged, in admittance to your crimes, your sentence is as follows... for the charge of assault, you will spend one Sectar in this penal institution, with hard labor, followed by two Sectons of community service. Upon your release, you will be handed over to the US Government, provided extradition papers are approved by the Ministry of Defense. If not, you will be sent back to Terra, provided with a tracking device which will be permanently placed somewhere in your body, to allow us to track your location. Furthermore you are to pay a fine of five thousand cubits." With a loud bang, the gavel fell upon the podium. "Do you have any objections?"

Ali flinched at the sound of the gavel. The words came too fast, too fast, and she closed her eyes, slowly shaking her head before looking up, finally looking at the judge, though she still did not make eye contact. "I have no money," she said, and then, "Of what you say, hazrat, I understand little. What is a sectar? What is a secton? And extradition?" Her voice sounded more like that of a child understanding little of an adult's conversation, than that of a convicted criminal.

Travell would frown a moment and then stare down at Tahira. "Your earth terms.. Sectar is one lunar cycle, a month... Secton is seven cycles... seven days." Travell said. "You will report to these chambers two sectons from today. Parliament will have decided your fate. You should pray you go to Hadante, for the Americans call for your death." Travell said as the other two judges nodded. "All in agreement, Guardian, please escort Tahira... to her cell."

When Travell had handed down the sentence, the Guards would grasp the restraints that held Tahira and re-attach the leash-like pole. They then opened a rather large door which opened with a hiss as they led her through the common area of the prison, where people were staring, snickering, and making comments, the door to the Judge's chamber closing behind Tahira as the guard moved to release the restraints, as well as hand Tahira a bright red jumpsuit, to match what the other prisoners wore, though they would still lead her to her cell, which was on the second level, what looked like glass was there instead of bars, and a glass and metal trimmed door would open with a hiss, the cell had a bed, a toilet, and a small cabinet, as well as a sink, but it was rather sterile, almost like a cell in a mental hospital from the future, once Tahira was pushed inside, the door would close behind her, the cell pressurizing.

Ali dressed herself in the prisoner's uniform, catching her dim reflection in the glass barrier looking over the corridor. She looked haggard, a nasty dark bruise forming on her temple where the LDA agent had struck her earlier in the bar. She touched a finger to the bruise and immediately recoiled at the sudden pain, her movements slowed. Ali stood in the center of her cell, surveying her surroundings, when movement caught her eye, and she looked up, through the glass, instead of at it, and saw Sophia taken to the cell across the corridor and over by one from where she was. "Sophia," Ali said, the first words she had spoken since Triad, and she moved toward the cell door, placing her palm over it, unaware that Sophia probably couldn't hear her.

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Whispering Mountain: Part Two

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:05 pm

Meanwhile Sophia too would be escorted through the prison, the inmates were seen shouting and hooting at Sophia. "Fresh meat boys!" One of the inmates shouted. The major downside to Aschen prison systems, was to save money, prisons were coed, though the cells were segregated, men and women inmates mingled in the common areas of the prison, Sophia was bound the same way as Tahira, though did not get the luxury of appearing before Triad, escorted to her permanent cell before they shipped her to Hadante, Sophia would be freed from her restraints, provided a bright red jumpsuit, with that, the riot-esque guards would let the cell door close with a hiss, Sophia's cell pressurizing.

Sophia would allow herself to be chained, her jaw set in defiance as she was led to a holding cell. Left to herself, Sophia slid down a wall to the floor, leaning her back against it. She bit her lip. She was thoroughly convinced the LDA were evil. First, they had declared themselves enemies of the Nuplethian society. Second, they protected Eva Lazaro. Sophia shook her head at this. Sophia could have forgiven the enemies if they had merely decided to protect Eva... she was, after all, a Lazaro and therefore gifted with manipulation and potential mind control. But to also declare themselves against Nupleth? And now this... Sophia lowered her head. She didn't know what to do. She had failed Sabine, and for that, she was devastated.

The cell seemed to have a sort of quiet to it, it was brightly lit with rather irritating fluorescent lights, the floor was a dark black color, made from metal, the bed was simple, a simple metal frame with a foam mattress. The cabinet looked more like a filing cabinet then a place to store clothing. It was quite obvious the Aschen Government did no pay too much money into the prison system, rather they paid into security. Of course in Sophia's cell, there was a bunk bed and a few pictures and decorations already there. Sophia had a cellmate, who was currently down working in the mines.

Focused only on herself for the moment, Sophia looked down at the bright red jumpsuit the bastards wanted her to wear. Like hell she would. She kicked it across the cell, snarling with rage. She would never. She stood and paced the cell, her fists clenching in anger, too wrapped up in herself to notice Tahira so near. She looked at the pictures on the wall, not really seeing them. After pacing for a few minutes, her nerves strung to the point of snapping, Sophia stepped to the wall and with an ear-splitting scream of frustration, bashed her head into it, leaving behind a streak of blood. Stepping back, blinking, slightly stunned, Sophia took a deep breath. That was better.

Ali watched Sophia slam her head into the wall, and tears came to her eyes. She sunk to her knees in front of the door, both palms resting against it, staring at the other woman, murmuring prayers in Arabic as she watched her friend slip ever deeper into the abyss of her own making, her own self-destructive behavior driving her further down a path Ali had struggled long and hard to leave. "Sophia, Sophia, Sophia," she murmured, over and over again, as if the woman's name were a curative elixir to restore Sophia to sanity. But Ali feared she was slipping further and further away.

The holding in the cell was only the first in a series of things to come. They were to be coded and tagged, as part of being in the Aschen prison system, a permanent mark of shame some said, a barcode would be tattooed either on the back of their neck, their wrist, or one's forehead even. This would be evidenced by closer inspection of the inmates, each had a metal cuff on their ankle that tracked their every location. Soon guards would approach Sophia's cell, along with an officer of some kind, sliding a cardkey through the lock, the door opened with a hiss as the administrator spoke. "You're out of uniform, Sophia... take her to processing, make sure she's in her uniform." He said as the guards approached, both of the men armored to the teeth with riot gear, in their hands were electrical stun batons, Sophia was going to be barcoded, tagged, and sent to the mines. While Tahira was largely left alone, her time would come however.

Sophia whirled to face the heavily armored men, snarling. She eyed them, calculating her chances of survival if she were to fight them. Slim to none, she'd say... but, if it weren't for the weapons... She contemplated kicking the batons away from them, knocking them down and stomping on their necks... but that wouldn't help Sabine. She sighed, tilting her head to look at the two, her arms folded over her chest. No, she wouldn't resist this time. Looking at the nearest one, she imagined the satisfying crunch his neck would make under her boot... The imagined sound, though not as satisfying as the real sound, would have to do. Lifting her lips in a smile, she innocently asked "What can I do for you gentlemen?"

"You're getting tagged and barcoded." He said plainly as one of the men withdrew a set of binders and opened them up, approaching Sophia. They were ready for anything, half expecting her to lunge at them, reaching out they attempted to place her hands behind her back and cuff them, the binders locking with a click as they led her out of the cell and through the prison complex. "Personally I think you should have listened to the agents and told them what they wanted to know." He said as he led her through the halls and into a large room. The Guards then forced Sophia to sit down while a technician walked in, moving the place a metal cuff around her ankle, and position a device over the back of her neck as he keyed in information. The Administrator speaking up. "You'll feel a slight sting." And a bright blue flash of light and a snap, a barcode would be tattooed onto the back of her neck. "Now, put this on." He said before handing her the jumpsuit.

"Sophia. . ." Ali reached for the other woman in vain as Sophia was taken from her cell, marched down the hall and out of sight. What were they doing to her? She feared Sophia was entering a place in herself where no one could reach her. Ali turned away from the cell door, leaning against the wall, staring inward, instead of out towards the corridor, not sure what would happen to her next. "La haula wala quwata illa billah," she murmured, the words needed desperately. Ali did not know what was happening, and truth be told, she was afraid.

Complying, Sophia had actually turned and placed her hands behind her back to make it easier for the guards. She heard the words, and thought about them, but remained silent. She would do what they wanted her to, sitting when they wanted her to sit, allowing herself to be tattooed... but when the jumpsuit was held out for her, she merely stared at it, raising an eyebrow. She looked up at the man holding out the jumpsuit. "Red really isn't my color," she said coldly. "And if it were, I wouldn't put it on in front of you." She shook her head and turned away, her back to the jumpsuit.

"We'll give you some privacy, but you need to be in uniform." The Administrator said as the Jumpsuit was placed before her. "Failure to comply will result in abrasive action, I don't think you want us forcing you to put the jumpsuit on, so it's best you do as you are told." The man said as a curtain was closed to afford Sophia some privacy.

As the curtain was closed, Sophia turned to frown down at the jumpsuit. Her first instinct was to tear the damned garment to shreds. Lifting a hand to the back of her neck, Sophia ran her fingers gently over the tender skin where the barcode had been placed. Sighing to herself, she muttered "...going to have to cut that out later..." But, she would need to be freed first. In order to be freed... She bit her lip and stared at the jumpsuit. She closed her eyes and pictured Sabine, her face contorted with terror. "Oh hell!" she muttered, changing into the damned jumpsuit. For Sabine. She would do it for Sabine. Once changed, she sat on the floor, back against the wall, eyes closed as she waited.

Meanwhile, another Administrator and a set of guards would approach Tahira's cell, Sophia and Tahira would be reunited soon, but first they were to be tagged and coded. The door would slide open and the Administrator would speak. "Miss Ali, please come with me." He said, the man working with Tahira, would only have one guard with him.

Ali flinched at the sound of the door opening, and then she turned, rising slowly, her eyes on the man's shoes as she moved to follow him, out of an automatic, culturally-induced respect and adherence for authority. "La haula wala quwata illa billah," she repeated, to assuage herself of the anxiety that wracked her.

When a certain amount of time went by the curtain was pulled away, Sophia had been sufficiently tagged and was ready for full incarceration. Of course once she was sent to Hadante she could wear what she pleased or could find scattered through the desolation of the planet. The Administrator would then speak. "Very good, take her to the mine holding area, she'll go down and work with the rest of the prisoners." He said as the two guards escorted Sophia out of the room and Tahira would be escorted in, in a very quick process, the metal cuff was placed around Tahira's ankle, and a barcode was tattooed on the back of her neck. She too would be escorted to the elevator, and this is where she would be reunited with Sophia, five guards, this time armed with Plasma rifles would be standing in the elevator as well. "Going down." One said as the elevator began to descend.

Ali did not feel herself. She supposed that was the intent of the process the Aschen seemed to have perfected, of marking their prisoners and tracking them, but when she saw Sophia standing but an arm's length from her, a small, sad smile broke across her face, a strange contrast to the now dark, yellowed bruise on her temple. "Sophia," she said, "are you all right?" And the question was unwarranted, but habitual, though this time Ali meant every word.

Turning to Tahira, her face blank, Sophia would nod. "I am fine." She spoke through clenched teeth, obviously furious. Sighing, she closed her eyes, realizing that this woman was the last contact she had to anything that made sense... But had anything made sense since she met the woman? This was the only person she had ever backed out of killing once she had decided to do it... How did that work out for her? She took a deep breath. But, Tahira was here too. She didn't deserve the brunt of Sophia's anger. "Tahira, what about you?" She looked at the nasty bruise on her head. "What have they done to you?" Seeing the bruise, her anger toward the Aschen grew.

Ali shook her head. "I am fine," she said, the words this time automatic and empty. "After - after the Sire took you, I - I attacked him," she muttered, her words barely audible, as her gaze rested on Sophia's cheek, still unable, or unwilling, to make eye contact with another. She did not add any more information, unwilling to share it, though Sophia could likely deduce what had happened after that. "It was not the best choice I have ever made."

"Alright ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the lower layers of Tartarus!" The Guard said as the heat in the open cage like elevator seemed to grow, as it came to a stop a large cavern would be seen before them, men and women working hard at the veins of the pumice like stone in the cavern walls, the crackle of stun batons and cattle prods, as well as the cracking of whips were heard.

"Let's go you greeven! Trinnium won't mine itself!" A Guard shouted before lashing the whip at a subject, the mine was so deep magma was flowing through small rivers in certain channels in the cavern, this was but one of many deep-ground mines on the planet, the view was literally like hell, with flame and lava, and guards whipping prisoners to work. Sophia would be handed a pickaxe, as would Tahira.

"You're assigned to Mine three, along with that other wench, you mine enough Trinnium, you'll be allowed a five centon break, you will work, we have ways of motivating you to work, there are hoses scattered through the complex, you will drink and keep hydrated, you will work, then hydrate some more, do I make myself clear!?" A Guard shouted over the din of the Mines.

Sophia simply stared at Tahira, silent for a moment. "You shouldn't have done that," she said quietly. "I can take care of myself." When the pickaxe was placed in her hands, Sophia would fight the urge to plant it firmly in the head of the nearest guard. Her hands shook from the attempt at control, and she closed her eyes, trying to keep herself from acting on impulse. She looked around the mine, sighing. She looked at the nearest guard, imagining blood trickling down his face, eyes wide with shock. She closed her eyes again, dropping the pickaxe.

Ali looked away, and then down at her hands as she was handed a pickaxe. "No matter," she said, sighing as she spoke. "It is done." Here, the heat was familiar, much like the heat of the desert day, and Ali embraced the sense of familiarity. The guard was speaking to them, then, and Ali struggled with what seemed to be a slight variant on the English she had learned, the man speaking almost too fast for her to understand, though she did not bother to ask him to slow down in his speech. She stared blankly at the lava, and at the other workers, and then, looking at the guard's chest, said to him, "Sayyid, I do not know what trinnium is. I do not understand." If she were to be working, she ought at least know what it was she was doing.

"Trinnium is the fluffy stuff that people make into pillows, holy frak are you that gods damned stupid!?" He shouted at Tahira before he grabbed a small chunk of Trinnium, which resembled a block of pumice, with specks of shiny pieces of metal in the rock. "You will mine this, and you will mine it efficiently, if you do not you will be beaten." The guard said flatly as he pointed to a group of workers. "Now go before I beat you two into frakking submission!" The red faced guard shouted as he led the group across a bridge over a channel of lava, The armed guards were everywhere, even if Sophia were to plant a pickaxe in a guard's face she wouldn't escape the prison alive, of course she wasn't the first person to think about that.

Sighed and picked up the pickaxe before following. Perhaps the hard labor would keep her mind from the situation. Perhaps it would have the same effect on her as killing, as harming herself... She gripped the pickaxe tightly, fighting the urge to use it on more squishy surfaces than rock. She decided she would bide her time, try to force her bloodlust into sleeper-mode... When the time was right, she would act. Until then, she would be a model prisoner. She just had to keep thinking about what was at stake.

Ali stared at the piece of Trinnium, and then followed Sophia and the others, gripping the pickaxe tightly. She watched the lava as they moved, wondering exactly how hard it could be to mine Trinnium from this place, unsure exactly how to go about it. But the guard didn't seem particularly friendly or helpful, and so she didn't ask.

The Guard would seem to stand over the two as he stared at the vein of the pumice like ore that was presented before them. "Start chipping it! Let's go scumbags! You're down here for a frakking reason, chip the pieces, place them in the cart, then take the cart and dump it into the conveyor belt." He barked as he stared down the two. "Wash, rinse, repeat! Let's go greeven I don't have all day! They don't pay me by the hour!" He barked as he cracked his whip.

Ali struggled with the man's instructions, but followed them, flinching at the sound of the whip as she moved to chip at the vein with the pickaxe, finding the work difficult, muscles aching where bruises had formed from the LDA agents who had restrained her after she had attacked Zarek. She breathed heavily as she moved at a steady pace to chip the Trinnium, then stooping to pick up the pieces to place them carefully into the cart.

Obediently lifting the pickaxe, Sophia would swing it into the ore, breaking off a few chunks. She would bend over and toss them into the cart, glaring at the guard as she did so. "Tahira," she said, swinging the pickaxe into the ore again. "Isn't it funny that a society that is so much better than everybody else, so much more advanced than every other society, and so absolutely sodding perfect, wouldn't have some sort of advanced technology to do the mining for them?" She tossed a few chunks into the cart, glancing at the guard from the corner of her eye. "Yes, this is most definitely a perfect society... taking prisoners, beating them, forcing them to slave labor without so much as a trial. It fairly reminds me of something I read about in a history book..."

Ali gave a sidelong glance to Sophia, frowning as she did so, shadows of the underground playing with light and dark on her face. "You have not been to my homeland," she said simply, and then returned to chipping Trinnium from the vein. In Mutalistan, prisoners were not only beaten and forced to perform hard labor without fair trial, but were often tortured, kept in inhumane conditions, and imprisoned arbitrarily and for indeterminate periods of time, at the whim of the wardens.

The Guards continued to scream and shout, one overhearing Sophia complaining. "Oh we have the technology, we have robots do to the mining for us, but when you're a criminal.. well a robot gets the frakking day off because of your stupid choices!" The guard bellowed as he looked to Sophia. "You should have thought about it before you committed whatever crime you committed.. thirsty? Have a frakking drink!" The guard shouted as he tossed a hose towards Sophia. "You look a little tired!"

Despite the sweat dripping from Sophia's brow, she ignored the hose, staring at the guard. She held the pickaxe tightly, stifling the urge to bury it in his skull. She turned to the ore, swinging the axe hard, sending chunks flying. Turning back to the guard, she lifted a hand to wipe the sweat from her forehead. "Unless you know what it is I supposedly did, you have no right to say I made stupid choices." She swallowed, needing the drink but denying herself. "One must consider your own stupid choices to be working with us 'frakking' criminals in this hell-hole rather than up there where it isn't as awful." She gestured up with her pickaxe before swinging it hard into the wall again, scattering more chunks of ore. "But then again, you don't strike me as the brilliant type."

"It pays, I'm down here because I'm working to be a cop up in Sagittaron.. we get a ten percent cut of the Trinnium profits though." He said as he watched a pair of guards escort Tahira back to her cell. "They don't tell us what you criminals did, but it was obviously pretty frakking bad to find yourself working the mines." He said as small amounts of magma seeped through cracks in the side of the walls, solidifying as the guard looked on. "I know you're thirsty, why do you make it hard on yourself? Is it pride.. even the hardest of criminals are broken here... you know.. a lot of them around here.. I hear them talking how they wished to go to Hadante. So tell me.. what did you do?"

Sophia lifted a hand to wipe the sweat from her brow again, frowning. She bent to pick up some of the loose rock, tossing it casually into the cart. "That depends on who you ask," she said quietly. "If you ask me, I did nothing. If you ask them," she gestures upwards again, "I refused to talk, attempted to assault an agent, and... well... I just work for the wrong kingdom." She sighed, tossing another rock into the cart before picking up the pickaxe again, swinging it furiously into the wall. "It isn't possible to break a person who is already broken," she muttered quietly as she stooped to gather the chunks of ore.

"Well that just frakking sucks doesn't it?" The Guard half mocked. "I worked in LDA at one point, you learn to listen to them, or they make you disappear." He said as he looked to the rock before him as she loaded them into the cart. "I would think if you were willing to work with the LDA they would release you... did you even get a chance to face Triad yet?" The man asked as another prisoner came by to push the cart towards the refinery, leaving an empty cart in its wake.

Licking her lips, Sophia looked down to the hose but stubbornly turned away again. She bent to gather chunks from the ground, tossing them into the cart. "I don't understand why I should be willing to work with a government that has threatened to destroy my kingdom, has tortured me, has threatened to destroy my only reason for living, and who is protecting our kingdom's number one fugitive!" She angrily lifted the pickaxe again, slamming it into the wall. "Tell me," she asked, turning to the guard. "If your job were to kill a person who you and your country know to be evil - a person so horrible that their very name makes babies cry, how would you feel about another government telling you that the person has done nothing wrong and then take you into custody, torture you, interrogate, threaten..." She sighed, shaking her head before turning back to her task, her shoulders slumped in defeat. "What's the use...?"

"Well if that were the case then our government would take military action to apprehend the fugitive and rescue those who have been imprisoned." The guard said as he looked to the chunks of Trinnium being placed into the cart. "We've had a few situations like that, I think the President sent in troops and took care of the issue... so you say this person is evil? I don't think you would have been imprisoned so quickly had you provided evidence to prove this person we're protecting is evil, I'm sure if you provided evidence, you would be released."

Sophia whirled, looking at the guard in frustration. "Do I look like I have any evidence?" She gestured around herself. "It's my word against... well... any impression she made upon your government. And, being stuck here, I can't even send word to my kingdom to send an emissary to back up my claims." She snarled and slammed the pickaxe into the wall again. "And now that she's protected by a stupid demigod, everyone will believe her." She shook her head, staring at the wall for a moment, her vision swimming with the heat. "It's no use. I shouldn't have to talk because I shouldn't be here in the first place." She licked her lips again, lifting an arm to wipe across her brow. She pushed a hand through her hair, wet at the edges, dripping with sweat. "It's no use," she repeated.

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Whispering Mountain: Part Three

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:13 pm

Meanwhile in the prison the guard would continue to watch Sophia, long grueling hours in the mines before a loud buzzer sounded. "Alright everyone out of the mines it's time for the next shift and for you all to get your chow! You'll never guess what we're serving tonight! Schlop!" The guards shouted as everyone was escorted to the elevator to get out of the hellish mines.

Tahira Ali twisted to watch Sophia continue to work, even as she was being taken back to her cell. Once out of sight, and in her cell again, Ali seated herself on the floor in a squatting position, hands clasped in front of her, seeming to stare blankly at the wall, her face expressionless, smudged with dust and soot from the mine that seemed to hide the bruise on her temple. This was all her fault. If it hadn't been for her, Zarek would have never went after Sophia. He had used the younger woman, used her to goad Ali, and she saw that now. And now, Sophia was trapped in a worse predicament, in a legal limbo, in the Aschen prison system.

Sophia wiped the sweat from her brow, obediently following other prisoners to figure out where to go. She was exhausted, and she probably should have accepted a drink. Looking back, Sophia couldn’t think of a single time that being stubborn had paid off. No, scratch that. She could. She smiled to herself at the memory, her hands shaking in exhaustion.

Meanwhile in the prison cell, the Elevator would continue its ascent into the normal levels of the prison, everyone being escorted into a large room, either from the mines or from the cells. Tahira and Sophia would be allowed to eat in the same room, a large, heavily guarded common mess hall, where everyone was served hydronic mushies, a bland tasteless paste that was filled with nutrition to replace lost nutrients and nourish the body.

The cell door opened with a hiss, prison guards waiting to escort Ali and the other female prisoners from the cell block down to the common mess hall. Ali looked around, the expression on her face blank, her stare vacant as she watched the others, seeing no one she knew or even vaguely recognized. Defeated, Ali took her tray with the strange substance that passed for foodstuffs, and found an empty table near one of the outlying walls. It was away from the concentration of most of the prisoners, but closer to where several of the guards were standing with stun weapons at the ready. Sitting alone, she ate, slowly swallowing each spoonful even as her taste buds rebelled against the textureless, bland substance so foreign to her. Her eyes were on the food, not looking up as she ate, each movement deliberate, calculated.

Sophia entered the room, looking through the prisoners, a scowl set on her lips to discourage conversation. Her eyes widened as she saw Tahira. Biting her lip, she approached her with her tray. "Can you believe what they try to pass off as food around here?" she asked, standing next to the table. "It smells like plant food." She tried to smile down at Tahira, but her smile was sad.

Ali looked up, eyes narrowing slightly in concentration at Sophia's approach. She gave the other woman a small, sad smile. "Assalamu alaykum," she murmured, the proper greeting automatic. She could find no other words to say. "Come," she said, the words clearly a struggle. "Sit you down." Her voice was soft, the words a clear command, irresistible in some ways.

Sophia slid into a seat across the table, looking in concern at Tahira. "Are you alright?" she asked, not touching the slop on her tray. "I mean... are you really alright?"

Ali looked up at Sophia, still not used to making eye contact. Instead, her gaze rested on the woman's cheek. "Yes," she said, "I am fine," the answer she always gave to that question.

Sophia nodded. She wasn't sure what answer she was expecting to hear. "Right," she said quietly. "I am too." It was a lie, but even a lie bore some hope in a place such as this. "What did they do to you?"

"I? Nothing unbearable," Ali said. "I was arrested; I stood before Triad, their courts, and they convicted me, and I have been sentenced." She was unaware that her appearance, haggard and worn, her sluggish movements and her favoring her left side, belied her words that she was fine, her calm, even tone. Ali set down her spoon, sighing. She looked up, at the ceiling for several moments, then to the side. "Forgive me, Sophia. I am sorry I ever met you. Else this might never have happened and you would be free still."

Studying Tahira for a moment, Sophia unconsciously reverted back to her role with Sabine - the optimistic light-hearted soul. She smiled at Tahira. "Don't be silly, Tahira. It's an adventure." Her eyes betrayed her true thoughts on the matter, however. She reached a hand forward to cover hers. "Honestly, don't worry about me. I've been through worse. You need to focus on yourself." She looked down at the disgusting mass they called food.

Ali looked at Sophia with something very much like regret, her normally expressionless eyes filled with sorrow, inside, taking comfort in the simple touch of Sophia's hand on hers. "No, habeebi, I know it to be true. The Sire Zarek wanted me here, here or in the place they call Hadante, and even in so short a time, he saw that I - that I - I care for you." Ali stumbled with the words, having great difficulty with the English. She stared down then at their hands, almost a mirror image, but reversed, to the moment but two days ago when first they had met.

Sophia shook her head. "No, stop." She frowned at Tahira. "Sire Zarek can kiss my ass," she said, loud enough for the guards to hear. "If it was his decision to do what was done, than why blame yourself." She leaned in close to Tahira. "I am a killer, Tahira. It was only a matter of time before I ended up in a place like this... or dead. And I'm not dead." She shook her head. "No... I refuse to allow you to blame yourself for my being here."

Ali slowly shook her head, the movement labored. She opened the palm of her other hand and raised her arm, wincing at the sudden movement, palm up. "My hands are empty. My palms stained with the blood of those I have killed. Thus it is so with all who have - who have killed. But you," and here, she pointed with the same hand, again wincing at the movement, "you would not be here, now, were it not for that man and his. . . saiyrnha. . . his grudge." Ali stared at Sophia's chin. "You were meant for your path, and I for mine, and I have taken you from it."

Frowning, Sophia sat back in her chair. "That's rather selfish of you, don't you think? My path couldn't possibly have led me here? I am the one who chose not to kill you, Tahira. That was my decision. My step down my path. That may have led me here, but if so, I started it. I took the first step. Now stop with the guilt." She sighed, looking sadly into her face. "Please. It won't do you any good."

"There is no good for me, Sophia," Ali said, "only the good I can choose to do with whatever time I have to live." She shifted her gaze to Sophia's nose, a step closer to actual eye contact. "Some time ago, the President of this nation chose to pardon me for my past crimes, grant me what I do not deserve. Now, because of what I have done to Zarek, that pardon may be. . . ibt'al. . . cancelled. Revoked. They want me dead, Sophia, the Aschen and the Americans, and come time soon or late, it shall come to pass. I have little time left."

Sophia frowned down at the table, thinking about this. She, herself, had wanted the woman dead only two days ago. What had happened? She fidgeted with the nutrition on her tray, poking at it. "I assure you, Tahira. I will do anything in my power to free you." She meant it, even if the words were empty, a value that would never be cashed.

Ali shook her head again, withdrawing her hand from under Sophia's, only to let it rest in her lap, her sleeve crawling upward to reveal another angry bruise. "I have been sentenced to serve a month here and to hard labor, and I will that sentence serve. And should either these same justices or the Americans sentence me elsewise, then to that too I should submit. There is no good to be gained by going against sa't'a, the government, the. . . authority," she said, butchering the word's pronunciation.

Sophia closed her eyes tightly. She didn't know what to say, couldn't think of anything to say. She sat silent for a few minutes. When she spoke, it was in a low murmur. "When I was a little girl, my favorite aunt would come visit us all the time. She lived near enough that we would visit her, dinners would be had, etc. Then the Guard came. They killed my family. I escaped the same fate because I was with her. When I found out... I was so hurt.

"I crept into the Guard's barracks at night and slaughtered eight of them in their beds before I was caught. Thaddeus' rule was to enslave murderers and give the slaves to the families that were wronged. In my case, however, he wanted control. He wasn't used to female murderesses. He enslaved my aunt, forced her into physical and sexual submission to the entire guard, promising me that I could work to free her by being an assassin - each kill was closer to releasing her." She stopped, staring down at the table. "That is who Sabine is. you remind me of her."

Ali's eyes grew moist, and she reached out for Sophia, the table only a small barrier as she moved to embrace the other woman. "Aastaghfur'allah," she murmured. God forgive me. "You have been wronged. . . but vengeance is of God. . . forgive me my transgressions, Sophia. You are not alone in your sorrows." And Ali cried openly, a strange sight in this prison, tears falling from her eyes, down her cheeks, collecting on the surface of the metal table.

Sophia embraced the other woman, needing her warmth just as she needed her own. Her hand stroked the back of Tahira's head. "It hurts me to see you blaming yourself for everything. Sabine would say the same, do the same. When you told me of your niece..." Sophia's eyes filled on their own and she blinked furiously to keep tears from falling. "...I could think of nothing other than her." She bit her lip and was silent for a moment. "The paths that God has chosen for us to take is not up to us... but the knowledge that eventually there is a chance that we may see those we love again, whether here or elsewhere, is up to us." She fell silent, staring at the cold wall.

Ali flinched at Sophia's touch, not out of fear, but out of pain. Her hair concealed a bruised mass of skin where she had been thrown brutally to the floor, and later banged her head against the inside of the SUV after being tasered a second time for no reason other than to prove her presence. She let herself just sit there, in Sophia's embrace, basking in the warmth of the human touch so utterly unfamiliar to her by this time. Her own mother - her own aunt - had once held her like this, and she had begged Kami to let her do the same one last time. . . only to face refusal from a devastated young child. "I will never see heaven," Ali whispered sorrowfully. "That I know beyond certainty."

Shaking her head, Sophia's response was cold. "Neither will I. But I carry the memories of those I love in my heart. I can see them when I close my eyes. To know that they are in my heart... that is my heaven."

"You are fortunate," Ali murmured, her voice almost too soft to be heard. "My heart is faray'r." Empty, but she did not know this word in English. She closed her eyes, wanting so desperately to see Kami smiling, laughing again, but all she saw was the cold look of condemnation on the girl's delicate features.

Even without understanding the word, Sophia understood the feeling. "Tahira, close your eyes and remember... remember a time long gone." She used memories of her own life, her relationship with Sabine, to attempt to pull the memories. "Have you ever given another person a gift? Something that made their face light up, a smile so sweet it melted your heart? Or... have you ever had a child so excited to see you that they ran to you, shoes kicking up dust, arms open wide to crash into you in a warm embrace? These are the memories you must hold. Those are the memories that, when held tight enough, nobody can take away."

"Hadha min fadhle rabbi, that I can remember," Ali said, her eyes still closed, tears falling silently on her face as she rested her head against the other woman's shoulder. "When we must be separated, do not forget me. Be careful that you do not become like me, Sophia, old and with regrets that would drown an ocean. For you, there is still time."

Sophia ran her hand softly down Tahira's back. "You will be in my heaven, Tahira."

Ali flinched again as Sophia's hand touched bruised skin, but her words were full of compassion for this young woman. "Shukran jazelan, Sophia, shukran jazelan. Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh ila alabad." Her words were a blessing, in its most literal meaning. Many thanks, Sophia, many thanks. May the peace and mercy and blessings of God be with you always. And then, she let her arms fall from the other woman, and removed herself from their embrace, the two now facing each other, and now, finally, Ali looked Sophia in the eye. "Masalehma," she said, go in safety, the traditional good bye, and she stood, ready to clear her tray and leave, her gaze lingering on Sophia.

Unaware of the meaning of the words, only how they made her feel, Sophia couldn't resist the urge to do something that she had always done with Sabine. She reached a finger forward and gently rested it on the tip of Tahira's nose. To anyone else, it could be considered a stupid, silly gesture. To Sophia, it was an expression of profound depth. She pulled her hand away, embarrassed. "Now, let us not lose heart. We're not dead yet."

Ali continued to make eye contact as a smile slowly spread across her features, still sorrowful, but no longer small, stretching from one ear to the other. And with her eyes, she smiled, and then, Ali nodded, once. "You still have time," Ali said to Sophia. "You can still choose." And she leaned forward, kissing the other woman once on each cheek, lightly, gently, the way she used to both greet and bid farewell to Kami.

Meanwhile in the prison complex, a loud buzzer would ring loudly for the people in the Prison mess hall, guards closing in and waving their stun batons, whisking people back to their cells and shoving them through the halls. The Guards would set their sights on Tahira and Sophia. "Alright you lesbian couple, break it up and get the frak back to your cells you worthless pieces of greeven!" They barked as they smacked their batons on the table.

Sophia slid her hands down Tahira’s arms, squeezing her hands before stepping away. The smacking of the baton on the table made her jump, and she looked furiously at the guard, but said nothing. She moved obediently in the direction indicated before turning back to Tahira. “Hold onto your heaven, Tahira. Don’t let them take it away.” She was unsure if her words were heard, but felt better after saying them.

Ali flinched at the sudden sound of the baton slammed against the table, and then glanced at the guards in confusion. Lesbian? Another word she did not know. Looking back to Sophia, she repeated her own words. "You still have time. You can still choose." And she offered the same warm smile before turning to follow the other prisoners back to the cell block, honestly unsure where she was supposed to be going.

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Whispering Mountain: Part Four

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:18 pm

They would lead the two back to the cell block allotted before them, Tahira escorted into her cell across the balcony from Sophia, the Guard smacking the glass by Sophia's cell. "Guess what you unhuman piece of daggit dung, you got a visitor!" He bellowed. "Surprising, no one sees people here, you better thank the lords of Kobol!" He shouted then got on his radio. "Alright send her in." He said as he glared at Sophia for a moment. Then he turned and closed the cell behind him which closed with a hiss and latched shut. The Guard rattling his baton on the walls as he walked off.

Sophia watched him walk away, her brows knitted in bewilderment. Visitor? She didn't know anyone, let alone anyone who would visit her. She paced in the cell, her mind racing to try to think of possibilities, and coming up with none. She clenched her fists at her sides. Her carefully built wall had slipped during her interaction with Tahira, and she fought to rebuild it.

Once returned to her cell, Ali knelt on the floor, facing the far wall. She wanted desperately to believe in God, but if there was a god, she knew she was damned, and that was a fear almost impossible to face. Slowly, memories returned, and whispering, half to herself, she recited two Hail Mary's, taught her by the nuns at her childhood school, and then the Lord's prayer, halting after every other line. Ali was not Christian, but her mother had been, and so this she did.

She remembered more then, the five-times daily prayers her neighbors had made, and haltingly traced her way through Muslim salat, not sure whether she was rising and bowing at the right times, or even whether she had the words right. Ali was not Muslim, but her country was, and so this she did. But Ali took comfort in the prayers she recited, imagining with some blind hope that they were her lifelines.

In the prison cell where Sophia was being kept, two guards would be seen escorting what looked like a woman, a middle aged woman with an olive complexion, dark hair, and dark eyes, looking Greco-Arabic in descent, she had on a simple woman's pantsuit, with a sash that was gold, trimmed with blue and white, and an emblem on the sash that resembled a bull. The guard would open Sophia's cell and it would open up with a hiss as the woman stepped inside.

"Please, wait outside for me." She said before she stepped into the cell, which had a strong smell of antiseptic and detergent. "Are you the Nupleth assassin known as Sophia? My name is Perah Enyeto, I represent the prefecture of Taura, I heard a rumor that you were unjustifiably imprisoned, tell me the circumstances surrounding your incarceration."

Ali looked up, finally, and turned, facing the balcony, her own poor reflection coming into sight against the glass of her cell. But her attention was not paid it long, as she saw two guards and an aristocratic looking woman approaching Sophia's cell across the corridor, and Ali stared, eyes narrowing slightly, even as she remained in her kneeling position, wondering what was happening, whether Sophia would be freed.

Stopping mid-stride, Sophia turned to examine the woman, silent for a moment. "I am Sophia," she affirmed. "I... I'm sorry, I don't understand why you are here?" She turned to face her fully. The protective wall she kept was still down and it bothered Sophia to interact with any authority figure before rebuilding it. She would seem weak. Sighing, Sophia bit her lip. "My definition of unjustifiable imprisonment and what I've learned since I've been here apparently are different." She looked at the woman, her expression puzzled.

Perah paused a moment and then adjusted her outfit and then she brought her gaze to level on Sophia. "What you say and do in the next few centons will either free you, or damn you to a dismal existence in the mines for the remainder of your life, I want to know about the Lazaros, I want to know their crimes, I want to know about Eva, and I want to know about this Sabine. If you're truthful to me, I will personally ensure you are freed before the Sectar is out." She said sternly, standing there and not moving.

Biting her lip, Sophia internally cursed to herself and her lack of preparation. She sighed and gestured to the bottom bunk for the woman to sit. She turned and began pacing, thinking to herself before she began to speak. Tahira’s words echoed in her mind. “I… I’m going to tell you far more than you’re asking.” She turned to Perah, taking a deep breath. “It’s a long story, you might want to get comfortable.” She didn’t expect the woman to relax, but she hoped she would. It would be easier to talk to her.

Ali watched as the stranger entered Sophia's cell, speaking to the other woman, though the conversation was soundless for Ali, across the entire span of the hallway. She could not read their lips, and she did not strain to catch stray words. Instead, her eyes were on Sophia, watching the other woman closely, seemingly oblivious to anything and everything else. This would be a long sectar.

Very well." She said as she slowly made herself comfortable in the bottom bunk, she would listen intently, before she would make her case before Parliament. Eyes on Sophia for a moment she then looked up. "I have time; I cleared my schedule for this." She said, the Siress making herself comfortable, in what meager amenities the prison cell had. No words would seem to travel through the thick glass of the cell doors. Outside Tahira's cell, guards would pace back and forth, eying the diminutive woman with a glare of sorts.

Finally, Ali let her gaze wander from Sophia, and she was surprised - though her face held no sign of emotion now - to see the prison guards nearby glaring at her. Immediately, Ali turned away, facing the far wall again, her back to the corridor, remaining on her knees, but for the steady rise and fall of her chest, motionless.

Sophia began pacing, preparing to open doors on parts of her past long left darkened. “My name is Sophia Voth. It is true that I am an assassin, currently under the employ of the Nuplethian Guard, as well as fulfilling contracts under the table. My current assignments are handed down by the king, thus, they are outside the knowledge of the Guard.” She swallowed. “Thaddeus, the leader of the Guard, is the brother of King Eris. The Guard is corrupt, Thaddeus is corrupt, but Eris is not.” She turned to Perah, her eyes expressing the importance of her words. “Eris is not,” she repeated before she began pacing again. “Thaddeus worked closely with the Lazaros to create certain… objects… to raise his power.

His goal was to take over the kingdom. The Guard…” Sophia stopped pacing and raised a hand to her forehead, wiping her fingers across it. “The Guard took what they wanted, murdering entire families.” She looked down at the floor. “My family was one such family. I was able to escape because I was visiting my aunt. Sabine.” She began pacing again, her hands plucking at the seams in her jumpsuit.

“When I found out about the death of my family, I… I didn’t take it well. I sneaked into the barracks at night and, with one of the daggers the agents relieved me of when I was arrested, slit the throats of many before I was caught. Thaddeus, in his plan to take over the kingdom, had made it a Guard law – anyone to be convicted of murder would be fitted with Nuplethian Slave Bands and forced to serve the victim’s family. That was to be my fate, but…” She hesitated again, swallowing at the memories she omitted. “But for reasons I cannot understand, Thaddeus decided that he wanted me to work with the Guard as an assassin. To keep my loyalty, he…” She stared at the floor, her hands clenched at her sides. “Sabine wears the slave bands in my stead, serving the entire barracks in any way desired.” She was silent here for a long moment, swallowing the lump from her throat.

She continued haltingly. “Thaddeus told me that… that for every kill, I could make a certain amount of money… He gave me a price for Sabine’s freedom. I… I work to free her.” She sighed wearily. “The king commissioned me to kill Eva Lazaro and Thaddeus. That is why I was in Wing City.”

She couldn’t face the woman, ashamed at her openness. “That is… well, that. The Lazaros…” She bit her lip, hoping to figure out a way to tell the story without sounding like she was spouting fairy tales. “A long long time ago, there was a powerful sorceress named Lazaria. She… our legends tout her as the greatest sorceress to ever live. She found a way to pass through successive generations. Over the years, a person claiming to be a Lazaro was thought to be crazy, and after many generations, the term Lazaro lost its impact on the fears of the people. Until the Lazaros came to Nupleth.”

She continued to pace, walking out the story, dragging it from her memory. “Thaddeus knew the legends and he approached the Lazaros. Together they worked on creating various magical items with the sole purpose of controlling others, of assisting Thaddeus to the throne. The slave bands were among their creations, as well as devices used to torture, control the mind… even make a victim disappear. After a while, though, Thaddeus thought the family was… throwing their power in ways that he didn’t want. As a warning, he attacked the youngest daughter – Eva. She was supposed to die, but she didn’t. Already, the Lazaro was strong in her.

The family didn’t stop with the magic, and Thaddeus decided to do away with the family. Somehow, Eva escaped. When the rest of the family died, it is believed that all of the Lazaro was transferred to Eva.” She paused, turning to the Siress. “Instead of the small portion of Lazaria that she carried before, Eva is believed to carry the portions of her entire family. That makes her the host to the most evil sorceress that my kingdom has ever known. Eva must die.” She finished speaking, and continued to just pace, furious with herself for imparting so much.

Perah said nothing as she sat and listened, the story probably took up to an centar or more to tell, this was enough to convince Perah, she paused a moment and then looked to the ground. "Your words herald truth; you are not lying to me." She then looked up to Sophia and nodded. "Very well, I will bring your case before Parliament, they will hear your case... consider yourself a guest of Taura, of my ward." She said before she motioned for a guard to approach, the cell opening with a hiss as she motioned to Sophia.

"Unlatch her restraints, she's coming with me, that's a Parliamentary order." She said plainly as the guard slid the keys into the collar, arm binders, and ankle binders, releasing them then attaching them to his belt. Perah nodding. "Thaddeus will be hunted down as will Eva, as far as Sabine.. we have an experimental treatment that is capable of removing the slave bands, bring Sabine here to Langara if possible.. I can send some Tauran Militiamen to help you free her."

Perah then looked to Tahira in the adjacent Cell "I cannot free your friend; however, Parliament is debating condemning her to Hadante for the remainder of her days for killing President Vallis, and conspiring with terrorists to destroy the Confederation. Her crimes are heinous beyond belief, and we cannot tolerate someone like her escaping justice. I will need to be in the city tomorrow to meet with the American President, my assistant will see you back to Tauron, where you will be welcome to stay until we can arrange to free Sabine." She then stepped outside the cell as her assistant nodded. "This way, please."

Perah then walked across a small, narrow catwalk towards Tahira's cell, waving her hand a guard opened the cell door as she approached the older woman. "The infamous Tahira Ali, the woman who killed Vallis, and conspired to destroy Scorpion Fleet shipyard, to name a few crimes... you really are a frakking piece of work aren't you?"

Ali flinched at the sound of her name, turning, then, to see Perah, the woman she had seen speaking to Sophia, and she stood, rising slowly, turning to face the Siress, though she still avoided eye contact as a sign of respect. "I - I beg your pardon?" Ali stammered, the woman's English coming far too fast for her to follow even a single word, other than the pronouncement of her name.

Sophia looked to Perah in surprise. She blinked for a moment, waiting for the punch line, expecting a joke. She hesitated as she looked across the hall to Tahira, her expression sad. "Please, please don't let her suffer." She glanced in sorrow as the assistant led her away. "Keep your heaven, Tahira," she whispered to herself, knowing the woman wouldn't hear her. She kept turning back until Tahira was out of sight.

Sophia would be led by the assistant through the halls of the prison complex, going through metal blast doors that opened up as the Assistant made his way out of the prison and towards a rather large dark green limousine. "Your belongings will be mailed to Tauron as soon as possible." He said as he helped her into the dark green limousine, the night was dark and the city would be lit up before them while Sophia and the Tauran assistant would wait for Perah as she stood over Tahira.

"I said you're a frakking piece of work!" She shouted as she narrowed her eyes. "The Guatrau placed a bounty on your head, five million Cubits." She said as she shook her head. "Spare me your manipulation... Zarek's right you escaped justice.. you probably already know what my vote was."

Ali shut her eyes at the shout, before opening them again, looking to her side, at the cell wall. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that Sophia had left. Perhaps the younger woman would now be freed. "It is not my choice to make," Ali said softly, finding the English words clearly a struggle for her, her English accented. "You will do what you will. Nothing I say or do can change that."

Looking around the limousine, Sophia bit her lip. She hung her head and whispered a prayer to the goddess to protect her friend. Internally, she grieved, her heart shedding fat tears for Tahira. Externally, she appeared to be staring out at the unfamiliar city, her expression stoic. Oh Goddess, if I've never asked for anything, I pray that you watch over Tahira Ali. She paused, wondering why, only a few days ago, she wanted to kill Tahira, and now here she was praying for her safety. She shook her head, whispering to herself "You're getting soft, Sophia."

"Damn frakking straight." She said as she hovered over Tahira for a moment. "You better get some sleep, the American president is coming tomorrow." She said before she nodded to the guard who opened the cell, which opened with a hiss and the Siress stepped out. "Lights out maggots!" A Guard parked and soon all the cells would be darkened, save for the lights shining in from the hallway. Tomorrow would be a long day, for Parliament and Tahira, Soon Perah would emerge from the prison, Sophia and Perah would soon be on the highroad, on their way out of Sagittaria.

"In truth?" Ali murmured, wondering that the American president was coming to Sagittaron. Was it because of her? What did he want of her? And what would become of Sophia? But then Perah was gone, leaving contemptuous silence behind her, and Ali watched as the Siress left, until the cell light went out, and she was in darkness. Ali fumbled for the bed, smashing her already bruised side into the cabinet as she did so, before finding it in the darkness. But she could not sleep. Dreams of could have beens eluded her, and the nightmares of reality haunted her.

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International Politics: Part One

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:31 pm

Naazmat Chakladar returned to her office after conferring with the committee running the Rewards for Justice Program, where Special Agent Natalie Schultz and one of her office attorneys, Owen Black, were waiting for her. "Owen, the papers please," Chakladar said plainly, as the attorney handed her the extradition papers he had prepared in the past hour. "Agent Schultz, I have agreed to offer Sire Zarek the monies he has requested. We have been in pursuit of Ali for a long time now, and it would be foolish to deny a fellow seeker of justice a due reward for his efforts in apprehending the terrorist."

Natalie rose to object, already stimming with her pen-hand, eyes wild, her other hand hanging limply at her side, wrist bandaged, after having been shot but a few hours before in a rowdy bar by a terribly abrasive liar, unaware that the same man had shot the woman Ali had been arrested for trying to protect. "Naazmat, that man attempted to convince me to bribe him. He wants a bribe."

"Agent Schultz, for the last time you shall address me as Ms. Chakladar, is that clear?" Chakladar glowered at Natalie, and then turned to Owen, handing the papers back to him. "Take these papers to the Aschen Ministry of Defense. Thank you." To Natalie, she said, "Agent Schultz, Sire Zarek is not requesting a bribe, and we are not offering him one. We are merely exacting justice, and if that means an additional amount of reward monies, then so be it. Dismissed." Natalie opened her mouth to object further, but thought better of it, and stormed out, closely following Owen, who had already left to deliver the papers.

Owen Black contacted the Aschen Ministry of Defense, faxing the papers as he dialed the phone number he had, waiting for a response. His caller ID would read "US Attorney General", as he was in his office.

Sagittaron, Ministry of Defense - Parliament Building: Defense Minister Chaska would be staring at the fax machine, which would receive the information relayed through several subspace relays. It then printed with a chime and she would read through them. "Extradition papers." She said as she read through them, then she placed them in a box that was addressed to Parliament. If the Attorney and the Department of Justice wanted to expedite the process, they would have to travel to Langara, to speed the papers through the bureaucratic mess that was the Aschen Government.

Naazmat Chakladar found Owen Black in his office down the hall, and she gently laid the phone back in the receiver. "Pack some clothes. You're traveling to Langara," she said. "The Aschen are known for their crippling layers of bureaucracy, and the President called me ten minutes ago. He wants Ali here as soon as possible." Evidently, they were unaware that the Ali had just faced Triad and was now serving a prison sentence in the Confederation. "Unfortunately, my duties require my presence here; you need to go. Take these with you, and anything else you think necessary."

Aschen Terra-Langara Chappa’Ai Port, Washington D.C.: "May I have your attention please." An attendant shouted over the din of the crowd of people, mostly Aschen returning home, Tech Con mercenaries, and whatnot. "Does everyone have your tickets? The Chappa’Ai will be activating shortly!" He shouted as the gate began to activate, two LDA Agents visually accosting Chakladar and anyone he brought with through their dark glasses. "You Tau'Ri have your tickets and clearance to travel? I also need to see a passport."

Naazmat Chakladar flashed her ID, and then nodded to Owen Black. "I am the Attorney General of the United States," she said, "and this is my senior deputy Attorney General, Mr. Owen Black. He has clearance from the highest levels of the Department of State." Owen withdrew his passport and ticket and held them out to the LDA agent. "He is traveling on account of urgent business with the Ministry of Defense. I won't be accompanying him."

"Alright Madame General... step through the Chappa’Ai, it will transport you to Sagittaron Port.. everything checks out... proceed." He said as he motioned to the Gate, which had just recently activated, a shimmering portal of water like substance seen as the Agent motioned for the two to step into the gate. They would then be hurled through a wormhole violently for roughly two seconds, then out on the other end, the city of Sagittaron greeting them. Cool, brisk and clean air blowing through, an announcement heard on the PA.

"Welcome to Sagittaron Interplanetary Spaceport, for your safety and your fellow traveler, please report any unidentified baggage to your local LDA Agent, or shore Patrol." They would seem to garner stares from various people in the spaceport as they made their way through, Men clad in green BDUs and load bearing vests, armed with plasma rifles went on their routine patrols, arm bands that read SP seen on their arms, lucky for the Attorney General, the Ministry of Defense building was roughly two or three blocks away from the Chappa'Ai port.

Naazmat sighed, and then joined Owen in stepping through the portal, finding themselves in a spaceport with many Aschen there. "Come on, Owen," Chakladar said, leading the way, as she had been here once or twice before, toward the Ministry of Defense. She ignored the stares, moving at a brisk, steady pace, striding purposefully, with Owen at her side, a briefcase and his suitcase with him.

Once outside the spaceport, the wide open streets of Sagittaron greeted them, tall buildings loomed over every corner of the city, the architecture was sleek, and glimmering in the sun that was shining high overhead the city. Of course for the prisoners the time of day was lost to them. Hovercars, and sleek wheeled cars sped through the streets of the rather crowded city.

In a lot of ways Langara resembled earth, it had a blue sky, green trees and grasses, humans that went about their business, a very Greco culture, as the Aschen spoke a predominately Latin, or Lingua Anquietas, or Tauran, which resembled ancient Greek. People still stared at the two, though there were a lot of parallels in clothing the Earthen people stood out, off in the distance, the Ministry of Defense was seen, black SUVs parked in front of the building, along with Sagittaron PD vehicles. The smell of various Mediterranean foods wafted along the restaurant and eateries lining the streets. It was a short walk, through what seemed to be a bazaar of Aschen culture.

The Attorney General of the United States was the first Hindu ever appointed to a Cabinet level position. She stood only a few inches taller than Tahira Ali would have, but was a commanding presence, hair pulled sharply into a bun behind her head, dressed in a tailored black suit, with a red blouse, adorned in gold jewelry and simple gold earrings, eyes narrowed intensely as she marched along the street. Beside her, Owen towered two heads above his boss, dressed more conservatively in a navy blue suit and matching tie, his hair short and unassuming, his stride not nearly as determined. When they reached the Ministry of Defense, Chakladar threw open the door, striding inside, her ID already in her hand as they approached the receptionist.

When the Attorney General threw open the door to the Ministry of Defense, she would be greeted by a rather grand marble trimmed hallway, a large phoenix motif emblazoned in the floor that read 'Aschen Confederation Ministry of Defense - Sagittaron Headquarters'. A similar plaque up on the wall behind the Receptionist. There was a doorway that lead to the offices behind the lobby, that was protected by two security guards armed with plasma pistols and clad in gray uniforms. "Welcome to the Ministry of Defense do you have an appointment?" She said as she looked up to the Attorney General, the Receptionist looked like she had undergone anti-aging therapy, as her features were flawless, somewhat too flawless, the lobby was also rather crowded, it had plants, and flags in the corner, the Aschen were known for their grandeur in architecture, which also had strong Greco-Egyptian feel to it.

Naazmat Chakladar frowned at the Ministry secretary, her own features sculpted elegantly, but marked by time in the furrows around her eyes and lips, the frown accentuating the effect. "Miss - " She glanced down at the nameplate, " - Alakos, I am the Attorney General of the United States of America," Chakladar said in a brisk, business-like manner, showing her government issued ID, "I'm here on an urgent matter, concerning the fugitive Tahira Ali. I need to speak with someone in authority over the Aschen extradition process, immediately."

She paused a moment then looked down at the ID, then she looked back up at her for a moment, then back down at the ID. "Right... you don't have an appointment with Minister Chaska, and she's at lunch right now." The woman said as she tapped her earpiece. "Έchoyme kάpoia Tauran gynaίka anazhtoύn edώ poy ischyrίzontai όti eίnai to genikό eisaggelέa twn Hnwmέnwn politeiώn." (We have some Tauran looking woman claiming to be the Attorney General of the United States) She said in a different language, then she rolled her eyes and then spoke again. "Ths edώ gia Ypoyrgόs Chaska" (She's here for Minister Chaska) She then sighed. "Very well.." She then looked up to Chakladar. "Minister Chaska has been forwarded a message, and will see you when she finishes her lunch." She said, once again Aschen corruption and, disregard for foreign dignitaries was quite evident.

Chakladar nodded politely, though inside she was seething. "I will be waiting right here," she said through gritted teeth, imagining her hands around Eran Alakos's throat, and then took a seat in the lobby, Owen sitting next to her with the briefcase and suitcase. Chakladar crossed her legs, and stared upward at the ceiling, noting the rather crowded decorations of the lobby. Her blackberry beeped, and Chakladar looked down, frown deepening. "It's President Maynard," she said.

"What's going on?" Owen whispered urgently, looking over Chakladar's shoulder. The message read Where is Ali? Where are you? You're missing the Cabinet meeting today. You better be ensuring Ali's extradition. Chakladar glowered silently, though her outward expression was terse and polite.

I'm waiting on a meeting with Minister Chaska in the Aschen Ministry of Defense. I will let you know everything as soon as there is another development. -N. Chakladar sent the message, hoping Maynard wasn't nearly as pissed as he sounded - or seemed, rather, in his own terse message. She shot a scathing glance at Eran Alakos, though she didn't show any nervous tics like tapping her foot or fingers.

A Half hour would be bordering on an hour, an hour would be bordering on an hour and a half, the clock would be at roughly 3:30, two hours from when they stepped into the Ministry of Defense, that a chime would be heard. "Yes? Very well I'll send them in." She said then she looked to Chakladar and Owen. "Madame General, the Minister will see you now, it's through the door behind me, down the hall, up the elevator too your right, it's on the top floor." She said as one of the armed guards opened the door behind the receptionist.

"Right this way." The security officer said, when they would walk down the hallways, the various flags of all the prefectures would be seen. All of them resembling one of the twelve zodiac signs, Gemini, Sagittaria, Libris, Aeries, Scorpian, Taura, etc. Showing the strong Grecian roots in Aschen culture. The guard would lead them into an elevator that would ascend, then it would reach the top floor, a short hallway leading to a fogged glass door that read 'Chaska, Helene' And upon opening the door a plush and well furnished office would be before them, dark blue carpeting giving way to an ultra-modern decor, a sleek metal desk with Chaska typing away at a holographic screen, a large window behind Chaska showing the city, and looking out to the bay.

Chaska didn't even bother to look up. "Corporal, close the door behind me please." She said before looking up to Chakladar. "U.S. Attorney General? Pleased to meet you, I am Defense Minister Helene Chaska, so tell me, what can I do for you?" Chaska asked.

Naazmat Chakladar's gaze swept over the office, taking in its plush, modern furnishings as she motioned for Owen to take a seat in one of the chairs, herself remaining standing. Her eyes burning fire, her voice was polite, even courteous as she spoke to Chaska. "Please, call me Naazmat," she said. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well." Then, getting down to business, Chakladar said, "I'm here concerning Tahira Ali. It is my understanding you currently have Ali in custody. I had my senior deputy," motioning to Owen, "fax extradition papers to you earlier this morning."

Minister Chaska would say little as she moved through her outgoing papers. "Ahh the extradition papers.. I submitted them for review by Parliament this morning." She then shrugged. "You're going to have to take it up with one of the Sires or Siresses in Parliament." She said as she continued to go through. "Oh wait.. here we are." She said as she looked to the paper. "Parliament rejected the request. I was wondering what that was doing in my incoming folder." She said as she slid the paper towards them, in red lettering 'Rejected' stamped on the heading.

"Apparently Tahira Ali faced Triad, was convicted, and is currently serving a sentence in Whispering Mountain Maximum," Chaska said as she read through the typing. "She's supposed to stand before Triad again in a week or so, since Parliament is debating overturning her pardon. If it's overturned, she will be placed on Triad for her terrorism crimes, and likely either put to death or sent to Hadante, or possibly handed to the US to face punishment."

Chakladar's polite frown turned into a scowl, as she leaned forward on Chaska's desk, putting her weight on her two fists as her eyes narrowed, one brow arching. "Minister Chaska, it is my understanding that you have an obligation to inform our government of such developments. As much as we too seek justice, I am disappointed that you didn't inform me earlier. President Maynard himself is badgering me for updates on your progress, but it seems you can't be bothered with a simple memo or call. If you aren't competent enough to inform me what happens next week, then I will personally take it up with your Parliament."

"And may I ask, Minister, what exactly Ali was convicted of? If she was pardoned by your government for her terrorism crimes, then what did you convict her of? And exactly what has she been sentenced to?" Chakladar practically spat the questions.

Chaska looked up at Chakladar, she had threatened to take it up with Parliament, Chaska found this absolutely hilarious. "Madame Attorney, with all due respect, The Aschen Confederation Defense Ministry has more pressing concerns, I'm a very busy woman, the US Government controls a few states, we control dozens of entire planets, I have a stack of paperwork metrions high as you can see. As for her conviction, she tried to murder Sire Zarek, one of our esteemed Parliament members. She's supposed to serve a sectar with hard labor, and then a few sectons community service. Then she's supposed to be released, barring a stint on Hadante for the rest of her life."

"Has Ali been sentenced to a life term on Hadante?" Chakladar asked, glaring openly at Chaska. "If not, I will pursue all available channels to ensure our interests are not swept under the rug because of the overwhelming demands of your bureaucracy. Surely you and your government are concerned with exacting justice, and appeasing your allies. Simply because our government controls only so many states does not weaken our position. President Maynard is a very powerful man, and he wants Ali extradited."

"We will send a representative to your world to inform your government of Ali's current status, Parliament will deliberate and if needed she'll face another Triad term. As for justice... Justice has been a lost thing with the upper echelons for our government for some time, Sire Zarek is a convicted terrorist, you know he bombed this very building.. thirty Yahrens ago.. of course Sagittarian law.. I'll spare you the finer points furthermore drop the frakking attitude, it won't get you far with us." She added. "If the Pardon remains, then we'll hand her back to you Tau'ri, because public opinion.. if Ali was free on Langara chances are someone would kill her then pay the courts off to let them go free.. welcome to Langara.. now do you have anything else?"

"I'm familiar with Sagittarian law, thank you very much," Chakladar snapped, trying very hard to sustain a polite, but terse tone. As Attorney General she was required not only to be completely familiar with all aspects of American law, but also to be familiar with the laws of treaty and hostile nation-states. "Thank you for your cooperation. I'm glad to have been able to have this conversation. We too want to see justice exacted against Ali, and if you can contribute to that in your own way, then please do so by all means. Just do us the courtesy of informing us, thank you very much."

"Keep in mind I'm a very busy woman, I have a military to run." She said before bringing her gaze back to the woman before her. "The law that grants a felon their rights after a prison term... probably one of the more progressive laws, no matter is there anything else or can I go back to running the Military?" She asked. One could tell Chaska had little regard for foreign policy, though she wasn't the dedicated Minster of Foreign Affairs, that was in a different office entirely, but matters concerning Ali was a matter of Defense. "You're welcome to tour Sagittaron if you wish, and if your president is hankering you, well, perhaps he could come to Langara and meet with President Adar, don't know how much good that'll do, elections are coming in from the prefectures, in a few Sectars, Adar won't be president anymore."

"There is nothing else, Minister, thank you," Chakladar said, standing to her full height, a fairly unimpressive gesture, given that she was still a few inches shorter than the average woman. "Some other time, I would love to take you up on that offer, but unfortunately, I have other pressing matters to attend to, and some very powerful people will be very angry if I do not keep other appointments. Owen, my deputy, will remain here in Sagittaron for two days, and he will be happy to keep abreast of any new developments. Feel free to inquire of him about matters concerning our government."

Owen half-rose in protest, but Chakladar silenced him with a pointed look as she swept toward the door, throwing her farewell coolly over her shoulder. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Minister. Sometime we should speak again." And then she strode purposefully from the office, Owen following behind.

When they were out of earshot, he whirled on his boss furiously. "What was that for?" he demanded.

"Lords of Kobol." Chaska huffed as she looked back down and then she pulled out some paperwork and began to scratch away at the papers with her pen. The Guard that stood at the door of Chaska's office would show Chakladar out of the upper floor. Down the elevator and then once they were in the lobby, the Guard would shoulder his plasma rifle, which remained deactivated and motioned to the door.

"Thank you for visiting the Sagittaron Ministry of Defense." He said as he motioned to the doorway, which like a majority of the interior of the building, trimmed with a bluish fogged glass that gave the building a very ultra-modern flair. Eran Alakos sitting and doing paperwork as well. Chakladar would have to make the walk back to the Chappa'Ai port, it was evening in Sagittaron, traffic of both repulserlift and wheeled vehicles filling the street, police sirens, akin to the Euro sirens found in England heard in the distance, the temperature dropping rapidly, as due to Sagittaron's location, it was a very cold city.

Chakladar nodded politely to the Ministry guard, making her way outside, walking briskly to the Chappa'Ai port. On the other hand, Owen Black stood speechless in the upstairs hallway of the Ministry building, utterly confounded. After several moments, he too made his way downstairs, down the elevator, and in the lobby, approached Eran Alakos, smiling warmly. "Hi," he said awkwardly. "You met my boss and I a few hours ago. Unfortunately, she decided to, ah, to leave without me, so would you mind giving me a recommendation of a place to stay for a few nights?"

"Recommendation... uhh well there's a few places in downtown.. there's the Sea View inn right on the waterfront, a great place for tourists to stay." She said as she began to draw a basic map of the city on a piece of paper. "There's Acropolis hotel in the city-center, it sits up on a hill and has a decent view, there's also Riverwalk inn, over in the market district, if you're on a budget, I recommend Five Cedars motel, in the..." She then leaned forward. "Where the Taurans live." She said in a whisper. "Deceit is in their blood, watch your back over there, they will kill you and steal your money, worthless scum if you ask me." She then smiled a clearly fake smile. "And lastly there's Whispering Mountain inn... but rumor has it there's a prison out there." She added. "Would you also like a reference for a place to eat?"

Owen nodded. "Thanks. The Acropolis sounds like a great hotel. And yes, a recommendation for a good restaurant would be appreciated too. I've, uh, never been to Sagittaron before, and my boss, she, well, she kind of dumped me here. Without warning."

"Well there's a lot of places that serve very good food.. there's a classical Tau'ri food place in one of the residential districts of the city, owned by a former viper pilot." She said as she drew up another map. "Classic.. fifties is it? American food, as well of course the typical Aschen diet... though he makes good Souvlaki... there's another place that's very high end, it's more of a club though, they serve typical Aschen foods, though a lot of Americans find our diet something... well let's say they visit, eat our food and don't come back, I think our food is a bit too healthy and light for them." She said. "Is there anything further I can do for you?" She asked as she cantered her head.

Owen took the maps in one hand, squinting down at the them, committing as many of the details as he could to the phenomenal memory that had gotten him hired in the first place, and then looked back up at Eran, laughing heartily. "No, it's fine. I'm a vegan, so I'd probably appreciate Aschen food more than most Americans. Back home, it's hard to find good food, so how about the address of the Aschen club? Sounds like a place I'll be frequenting a lot over the next few days."

"It's off of Erebus drive, you can't miss it, it's called the Cloud Nine." The Receptionist said as she waved Owen off so she could get back to work, filling out various papers that pertained to the Aschen Government. The sun continued to set through the background of Sagittaron, the sun setting off of the bay and glimmering on the water. Causing the water to glow a bright orange color, atop the blue of the reflection of the sky and the white, almost bleached color of the few cumulus clouds that lingered in the sky. Sagittaron was a large and rather densely packed city, 100 Million people packed in a small bay area of the western side of the Prefecture. The Hotels would be rather easy to find, as one of the good things about Sagittaron was very user friendly public transportation, from buses, to trains that frequented the various hotels.

"Thank you," Owen said to Eran, nodding and smiling, as he turned, taking the maps with him, his briefcase in one hand, the maps and his suitcase's handle in the other. He made his way outside, and would find a bus taking him to the Acropolis Hotel, where he would check in and leave his suitcase in his room, taking his briefcase and the maps with him as he took another bus to the Cloud Nine, hoping he could have a positive end to a rather jarring day.

Owen was in his own personal heaven eating the deliciously healthy, light Aschen food that catered directly to his vegan taste, before he reluctantly left the Cloud Nine, returning to his hotel room to prepare for the next day. As long as Chakladar had abandoned him in Sagittaron, Owen would make the most of his time, and go sightseeing the next day.

The night would be cold when Owen exited the Cloud Nine, the city seemed to be filled with Neon light, glimmering and shining brightly, the city seemed to be a futurist's paradise, cars zooming too and fro, ships hovering high in the sky. The Hotel would be a short bus ride away, probably one thing Owen would notice, was that life in Aschen society was decadent, and heinously expensive.

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International Politics: Part Two

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:37 pm

President Maynard had made a very special appointment with Special Agent Natalie Schultz. It was very rare for the President of the United States to meet personally with a field agent, particularly one who had yet to accrue senior status, and even rarer still for the meeting to be private, in the White House. Natalie stood with her back an inch from the wall, the door an arm's length to her left, stimming with the pen in her right-hand as she twirled it with intervals of increasing and decreasing pressure.

The President sat in one of the armchairs in the room. "Sit down, Agent Schultz," Maynard said, gesturing to the chair next to him. Reluctantly, Natalie took the seat. "What is your latest update on the Ali case?"

"Tahira is in the custody of the Langaran Defense Agency," Natalie said immediately, "but Naazmat has offered Thomas a substantially greater reward than we had originally been offering, in exchange for legally sanctioned extradition. I have no further updates."

Maynard frowned. "You haven't been made aware?" He pointed to his Blackberry, which had just beeped minutes ago. Natalie shook her head, shrugging helplessly.

"Evidently not, since I haven't the faintest idea to what you are referring," Natalie said, not without a hint of sarcasm.

"Ali was convicted by the Aschen government for attacking Sire Zarek, and she is currently serving a prison sentence at their maximum security prison. They've denied extradition on those grounds. The Aschen parliament is debating overturning her pardon under their current President."

"That's a good thing, isn't it?" Natalie asked, frowning.

"As long as she is in prison for life, or sentenced to death, yes," Maynard said, nodding firmly. "But the current sentence is only for a month, and if Parliament upholds the pardon, Ali will be released, and the Aschen are not particularly keen on extraditing our fugitives."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Agent Schultz, you are the case agent overseeing this case. I would expect you appreciate the report." Maynard seemed tense, almost frustrated.

"Are you going to do anything about this?" Natalie inquired further, the pressure increasing on her pen.

"I'm going to Sagittaron to address the Aschen Parliament," Maynard said.

Natalie stared. "Why am I the first to know?" she asked.

"I'm going to make the announcement tonight, in a national address." And then, Maynard smiled.

President Charles Maynard, after dismissing a stimming Natalie Schultz from his office, phoned the direct line of President Richard Adar, as he wanted to inform the other head of state as a professional courtesy, before making the public announcement of his rather unplanned trip that had enraged to the Director of the Secret Service a few hours later. He planned to fly out the next day. He waited, the phone ringing, for Adar to answer.

In his office, as the sun began to set, the red phone that was connected through several subspace relays would chime a loud, somewhat crystalline chime. Shaking his head he would frown. "What is it now?" He asked as he then reached over and picked up the telephone. "President Adar, how may I render assistance?"

Maynard took a deep breath before beginning. "Hi Richard, it's Charles," he said, his own baritone voice with the Montana accent easily recognizable. "I'm calling about Tahira Ali."

Adar was silent a moment as he listened to the person who was on the other end. "Maynard.." He thought to himself and then he cleared his throat. Ahh.. Tahira Ali.. hold on I think I have the data file on here somewhere." He said as he brought up the information on his computron. "Ah, here we go, she's at Whispering Mountain." He said as he paused a moment. "What is this concerning Miss Ali?" He asked.

"It's about your pardon. I'm sure you've gotten a lot of flak for that, but I'm not going to ask you to overturn the pardon. I'm calling to let you know that I'm going to ask Parliament to do that. I just wanted to let you know ahead of time." Maynard sighed, rubbing his temples as he looked out the windows, at the setting sun in DC, a sight not unlike that in Adar's office, with the gorgeous ochre fading to scarlet, violet, and indigo, the sun's rays striking the window at an odd angle. "I'm traveling to Sagittaria tomorrow."

Richard Adar would offer little more than a long pause, he knew about Parliament's deliberation. "Did Sire Zarek bribe you into this?" Adar asked as he listened for the other end. "When are you traveling to Sagittaron? I'll be sure to inform the LDA so security detail can be arranged, I am sure you are familiar with Aschen protocol concerning your bodyguards, their weapons are to be in compliance with LDA Standards and they are to check in their weapons, and register their detail with the LDA, Are you travelling by Starship or Astria Porta?" Adar asked, so he could make the proper arrangements.

"Actually, I have never spoken to Sire Zarek or any of his emissaries," Maynard said with a sharp tone, miffed that Adar would even consider it a possibility that he had been bribed. "I'm looking out for my country's best interests, and I'm sure you do the same." He paused, and then looked down at his hastily prepared itinerary. "My Chief of Staff will be in touch with the LDA. I will be arriving by Astria Porta sometime tomorrow, and I'm sure my Chief of Staff will brief the agents assigned to my detail."

"Very good, because I have to be concerned about the safety of the people of this Confederation, I'll make motorcade arrangements, if you wish to speak before Parliament, then do so. They are still deliberating Ali's fate. I look forward to seeing you and welcoming you to this world, I know our two peoples have gotten along well since your government declassified our existence." He said and then would wait for a reply.

"Thank you, Richard," Maynard said, smiling on his end of the line. "I do wish to speak before Parliament, and will be happy to see you tomorrow. It's always a pleasure."

All while Perah was working with Sophia, Adar would be working closely and quickly with the LDA to prepare the motorcade at the Astria Porta, it was already night time here in Sagittaron, and everything was to be readied, Adar wanted this to go as smoothly as possible.

It was time. Maynard came on national television, and he made his announcement before a hastily assembled press conference, prompting a flurry of comments over the blogosphere, most of them in favor of the President's action, and a few condemning him for interfering with the affairs of a sovereign allied state.

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International Politics: Part Three

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:46 pm

President Charles Maynard rose early, and took his security contingent with him as he arrived at the International Spaceport, ready to arrive in Sagittaron via Astria Porta, his chief of staff, Sarah Tikriti, a tall woman with dark hair and an olive complexion, dressed impeccably in a black designer suit and magenta overcoat, accompanying him along with the Secret Service agents.

"Sir, we have an off world activation." An LDA Agent said as he turned to the Astria Porta, which was clunking and whirring as it powered up and then it activated, forming a portal. The group that was waiting for the president consisted of LDA Agents that had the spaceport locked down tight, their presence intimidating, with black suits and black ties, dark sunglasses and a coiled earpiece.

Two LDA Agents would be seen standing before the gate, one of them a female, a light complexion, blond hair and light eyes. In contrast to the Tauran, Admiral Nagala, Black hair in a ponytail, her slender figure hidden somewhat by the duty blue uniform that showed her decoration, standing besides the Admiral was an older man, a brown suit and striped tie, an Egyptian style collar draped around his shoulders, trimmed with oranges reds and gold, the older man waiting as the female Agent spoke. "He'll be arriving shortly." The man then nodded. "Excellent."

The ten Secret Service agents accompanying Maynard were dressed identically to the LDA agents, making it difficult to tell them apart. The main difference was that each man of Maynard's protection detail had a photo ID tag clipped to the breast pocket of his suit, with the seal of the Secret Service superimposed on a holographic image. Maynard nodded to the LDA agents, and then, four of his agents stepping through the portal first, he followed, emerging on the other side, where he immediately set eyes upon Admiral Nagala, smiling pleasantly as he moved to greet her, Sarah and the other six Secret Service agents following behind him.

President Maynard was a man of average height and weight, with light brown hair combed back in a severely receding hairline, his only visible flaw a long scar running down the length of his right arm, stopping short at the base of his wrist. He wore a dark pinstriped gray suit, somber and muted, in contrast to the gaudy, stylish dress of Sarah Tikriti.

In the Sagittaron spaceport, the President would be greeted with a nod as the female LDA Agent spoke up. "Your security detail is to check in their weapons, so we may know what they are carrying." Marlene said in a flat, very low tone of voice. "It's LDA Policy," she said as she tapped icons in her computron. If Maynard looked towards the exit of the spaceport, two power armored behemoths would be seen, servos whirring as they carried weapons easily the size of a tank's main gun. Of course all the LDA Agents appeared unarmed, save for the two power armored figures that towered above everyone else.

The man in the suit then smiled. "Mister President, it is an honor to meet you, my name is Tom Zarek." He said as he extended his hand. "I hear you wish to meet with Parliament, so Ali can have justice brought to her." He said as Nagala cleared her throat, all the Aschen dressed very conservatively, but everyone in Maynard's group could probably sense the glares through the sunglasses, feel the xenophobia that was rampant in their culture.

Sarah nodded to the Secret Service agents, who handed their weapons to Marlene in turn. Other than Sarah, everyone in the American party was dressed soberly, much like Maynard was. The President took Zarek's hand and shook it firmly, smiling as he did so. "It is an honor to meet you, Sire Zarek," he said. "I've heard much about you. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to speak with Parliament. I want justice as much as you do."

"Justice is a thing to have." Zarek said as Marlene inspected the weapons, and then her agents promptly handed them back.

"Your projectile-based weapons are of no consequence, you are welcome to keep them through the course of the negotiations," she said as everyone's weapons were returned.

All while Zarek smiled. "Well Parliament is convening today after the President announced your arrival, it is this way, we'll take the motorcade to the building where we will meet, it's the Parliamentary building, we'll meet with you in the chamber, try not to be offended in the way the chamber is.. constructed." He said as he led the President out, past the two Power Armored guards. "As you can see we have quite a few resources at our disposal to apprehend Ali, you can't put a bullet through an inch of Trinnium.. these soldiers are walking tanks." Zarek boasted before he led the group to a waiting Motorcade, several LDA SUVs as well as two Limousines seen before them. "It's just a short drive."

Maynard nodded courteously. "Thank you," he said to Sire Zarek. "I'm reassured that you have every commitment to ensuring justice is exacted as we do," as they approached the motorcade, Maynard unsure what to do, whether he should just climb in, or wait for the door to be opened for him, or which limousine was intended for him. Glancing over at Sarah, he found no help forthcoming, so he waited by Zarek's side.

A few moments would go by and Zarek would lead the president over to one of the limousines, an Agent opening the door for the two, and Zarek would motion for Maynard to climb in first, he would then follow suit, the city around them majestic as ever, if this was Maynard's first trip, perhaps the sight could be overwhelming, the skies were free from pollution, as Naquadah, as opposed to fossil fuel was the main source of energy, cars running on either Naquadah or Hydrogen fuel cells.

Aschen society was the model of environmentalism. Zarek then nodded to the driver, and once everyone was in the motorcade, it would begin to move, police cars on the front and back of the group, clearing traffic as Zarek spoke. "I know our society has intrigued many Americans, I remember the day the world learned we existed, that Earth was not alone.. A shame there was mass looting in some cities."

Maynard nodded politely, watching Sagittaron's skyline as they drove. He had been here once, about ten years ago, before he had been elected President, and had been subject to different customs and levels of security then. "One can never predict how masses of people will act under different conditions and in different situations," he remarked, Sarah raising an eyebrow at what she immediately saw as Maynard making polite conversation with someone he wasn't sure could be trusted.

"It's probably because the people of your world think that a civilization capable of traveling through space is capable of planetary invasions, but we're not the Goa'uld." He said as a large Grecian style building would soon be looming before them. "Here it is. Parliament should be convening now." He said as the motorcade came to a stop. Zarek nodding to the driver, then back to Maynard. "Just be wary, Parliament can be very... intense." He said as he stepped out of the limousine, making his way towards the building, motioning for Maynard to follow.

Two large glass doors opened, and Zarek would lead them through a rather lavish, marble decorated hallway, opening two large wooden doors, a room would be before them, two tables, a podium on the ground, and what looked like a raised dais, a set of twelve seats seated higher than everyone else, Zarek would have turned to go through a different door as all of Parliament looked down, twelve people who held all the power in the Confederation. Zarek would soon take his seat, behind the 'Sagittaria - Tom Zarek' Placard, and before his flag, President Adar sitting in the center, flanked by six Parliament members on each side.

Maynard left all but two Secret Service agents in the atria and hallway, taking Sarah and the other two with him as he stepped up to the podium, the others standing behind him, towards the wall, in the shadows of the room. "Good morning," Maynard said to the members of Parliament, nodding politely. "It is an honor and a privilege to be standing here with you today. I am here to speak to you about a matter that concerns both your great civilization and its government, and that of my people. It is a matter that is before you today. Tahira Ali." Maynard would pause then, gaze roving about the chambers. "Not too long ago, your great President, Richard Adar, signed a pardon for the crimes of terrorism that Ali committed against your people. I am here today to urge you to vote to overturn that pardon. If free, the devastation Ali could wreak would destroy not only your civilization, but ours."

Maynard swallowed, glancing down, then looked back up, meeting the eyes of each Parliament member in turn as he spoke. "Our nation holds great respect for your people and for you, as the leaders of your nation. But there comes a time when the need for justice speaks louder than the need for sycophancy, and that time is now. I am not here to flatter your ears with glowing praise, nor am I here to condemn you. Instead, I am here to implore you to see beyond the alliance between our nation-state and yours, to see beyond party politics and the decisions of any one man, and to do what is right under the Lords of Kobol."

The members all looked to each-other, they would speak amongst each-other in whispers as they watched the man before them, all eyes would soon be on Maynard, there were some who shook their heads and then Siress Sarah Porter, a dark skinned woman would turn and face Maynard. The Siress represented the Prefecture of Gemoni, represented by a green and red flag, with a stylized twin symbol behind her.

"Ali's crimes are heinous, we have read her records, but is your need for justice politically motivated?" She asked as Zarek frowned, Sarah was one of the opposition to Zarek's proposal. Along with six other members of Parliament, with Zarek, Sire Puasha, Siress Wenutu, and a few others pushed to overturn the pardon.

Sire Safiya Sanne, of Leo would then speak up. "If we overturn Tahira's pardon, that means she will ultimately be tried in our courts, and under our laws sent to Hadante." He explained.

"Yes," Maynard said, nodding sagely. "I am aware of the law. We are not seeking to claim glory or acclamation for bringing justice to Ali. What we do want is to ensure that justice will be exacted, no matter by whom it is so done." He was, of course, unaware that at this moment, his awkward speech patterns, made so by nervousness, mirrored those of Ali when speaking English. "It does not matter who holds the gavel; what matters is that Ali does not escape justice by the means of one man's signature."

Sarah nodded, and then she looked to the other members who deliberated for a moment, then Sire Sanne would speak up. "Tahira is brought to justice, sent to Hadante, you still have a glowing problem with terrorism on your world, Tahira may be brought to justice, but that will not bring back those she killed in her days." Sire Burien then spoke. "This matter will go to vote." He then turned to Zarek. "Sire Zarek, you were the one who proposed that Ali face Triad, if Parliament votes to overturn the pardon, she will be placed on a second Triad."

Zarek then nodded. "She should not escape her crimes." They then deliberated a moment, and then all eyes would be, once again on Maynard.

Maynard took another deep breath before speaking. "No, nothing anyone can do will bring back any of Ali's victims. Nevertheless, it is wrong to let someone who is clearly guilty of such heinous crimes be granted such lenience so as to suffer no punishment for them. "And the punishment of one criminal cannot easily dissuade other extremists from their own criminal acts, but it can show those who are watching us that we will exact justice against anyone who attacks society by breaking its laws."

In the Parliament building, everyone would stare down the President and then Zarek stood up. "I propose that we overturn the pardon that Adar has signed, and we force Tahira to face triad and pay for her crimes. All in favor?" And one by one, members of Parliament said 'aye' and the votes were cast, Zarek then turned to face Maynard. "It is done, now I want my money." He said flatly as Parliament voted. Adar's pardon was null; the next day Tahira would be scheduled for another Triad, though of course this was without her knowledge.

"Thank you," Maynard said, nodding. "I will personally ensure the reward money is transferred. If you would give the correct account numbers to my Chief of Staff." He indicated Sarah Tikriti, who was leaning against the far wall in the Parliament chambers. And he turned, and strode from the chambers, cheered that Ali would not be escaping justice.

"Now is there anything else we can do for you, Mr. President?" The Siress of Taura asked as she looked down from her Dais. "You're welcome to tour Langara and intermingle with the Aschen People, we'll handle Tahira." The Siress said as she nodded the phone call was already placed, and it seemed the Aschen courts were lucky, Judge Travell had not left from her sentencing of Tahira a few days prior.

"Thank you, Siress," Maynard said to Perah, nodding politely from the doorway. "I will be staying for another two days, and collecting my Deputy Attorney General. Thank you again."

Maynard turned, Sarah and the two Secret Service agents following, as they emerged in the hallway of the Parliament building, the other eight Secret Service agents waiting for them there. He had most of the day ahead of him, and would first stop by the Acropolis hotel to retrieve Owen. Little did Maynard know that Owen Black was riding an Aschen bus far, far away from his hotel.

Inside the bus the driver would be heading up the steep highroad on the mountains, the bus driver would then get on the PA System. "Attention passengers, we'll be stopping off at Whispering Mountain prison complex, then we'll continue up the mountain towards the hotel, please vacate the bus at your desired stop." He said as he pulled up to a large prison complex, a shimmering barrier seen, along with electric fences and a wall. Several LDA SUVs parked in front of the prison, thick black smoke pluming from vents from the mines.

Owen Black's eyes lit up at the sight of the prison, and he jumped to his feet, briefcase in hand, disembarking from the bus. He glanced around, noting the LDA SUV's, and the smoke from the mines, but then looked toward the fences surrounding the prison. Standing outside, he wondered how he should go about entering the building, and then decided the front door was probably the best option. Walking slowly towards the front gate, Owen wondered for the millionth time exactly what it was he was doing there, but he continued.

Owen on the other hand would be greeted by a pair of heavily armed and heavily armored guards that seemed to stare him down. "Welcome to Whispering Mountain prison, what can we do for you?" They asked, not bothering to open the gate and let him in.

Meanwhile, Owen took out his ID, and showed it to the guards. "My name is Owen Black, and I am the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, here on official business, related to the Tahira Ali case." His tone was plain, business-like.

Meanwhile in front of the prison, the guard would stare at Owen for a moment, then he would start to laugh. "Get the frak out of here!" He said as he pointed at the street. "If you were here on official business we would have been notified."

"Can you at least confirm for me that Tahira Ali is here? If I need to, I can get President Maynard on the phone inside of five minutes," Owen said, and it was true.

Meanwhile the guards would watch Owen for a moment and then they chuckled. "Yeah she's here, they are torturing her in the mines last I heard.. or was she facing Triad? I think she was facing Triad.. yeah."

The other guard then spoke. "Didn't Parliament overturn her pardon? I can't wait to unload some plasma into her."

Owen kept his face impassive, though he hadn't known this. "Oh, that soon?" he remarked. "All right, well, I can just let my boss know that's the latest. Thanks."

Owen Black shot off an email to Naazmat Chakladar, and then turned to leave, to wait at the bus stop for the bus to return from the hotel up the mountain, glad that he had found what he had come for. The smoke was disconcerting, but hey, prisons weren't meant for vacations.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:52 pm

Ali would be left in total darkness save for what managed to shine in from the halls of the prison complex. It was quiet, only the low hum of distant power generators would be heard through the walls, other than that it was complete silence. The morning for Ali would come early and harshly with prison guards shouting and loud buzzers buzzing, the glass door to Ali's cell would open up, a loud hiss as lights flickered on as a Guard peered into Ali's Cell. "You'll never guess what we're having for breakfast today!" He cackled before walking with the other prisoners.

Ali had been lying awake for about an hour by the time the guard had come by, but she had been lying down with her eyes closed, feigning sleep, the illusion more for herself than for anyone else. She opened her eyes, squinting in the fluorescent light suddenly burning in her cell, rising to her feet as she looked about herself, momentarily wondering where she was, before she remembered that she was in an Aschen prison on some side of some distant planet. She stumbled into the corridor, following the other prisoners to the mess hall, unsure where anything was.

"Come on eat your schlop!" One of the guards bellowed as trays were handed off to the prisoners, once again Hydronic mushies were being served, the bland nutritious paste served to the prisoners, who had long gotten used to the mushies, some smuggled in spices, even salt was valuable in this prison, anything to give the paste any kind of flavor. Guards would position themselves inside the mess hall, as everyone was allowed to eat, clamoring loudly as they went about their morning routine.

Today, Ali took her tray, and looked around, in hopes of catching a glimpse of Sophia. But after several minutes had passed, Ali gave up hope, and took the same seat she had taken the day before, alone once again, slowly eating the flavorless mush, wishing that she could still eat her mother's rice pilaf, or paneer, or anything but what had been given her. But she didn't complain, and she didn't look around, waiting in vain for Sophia to join her. When the other woman didn't come, Ali hoped it was because the Siress had secured her freedom.

The Guards would continue to watch the group as they ate, no Sophia in sight, even up until the buzzer rang as the Guards started rattling their batons on the tables. "All right, you greeven, off to the mines!" they shouted as they banged and grabbed people and began to quickly whisk them off to the elevators that would make the long grueling descent into the hellish mines once again.

Ali flinched once again at the sound of the baton slammed against the metal table. She would never grow accustomed to that horrid, jarring sound. Ali followed the masses, feeling once more familiar in the dry, suffocating heat of the mines, wondering vaguely whether this was what jahannam, what the Americans called 'hell', would look like.

Ali would be with the group, descending in the elevator in the hellish heat, just like the day prior, a pickaxe was handed off to Tahira as the guard cracked the whip. "Alright you greeven! Mine! Mine!" He shouted as another bellowed. "They don't pay us by the hour!" He shouted, Tahira escorted to the same vein her and Sophia mined, guard standing over her. "You bombed buildings, you better be mining that trinnium." He shouted to Ali.

Ali glanced up at the guard, face flushed at his remark, gripping her pickaxe more tightly. "That is not why I am here," she said, and then began to chip away at the Trinnium vein at a slow, steady pace, not looking at the man who had spoken to her as she moved, sweat dampening her hairline, dripping down her brow.

Ali on the other hand would be accosted by the guard once more. "Sure sure.. I heard about your little pardon.. just shut the frak up and start mining or I'll taser you." He threatened as he then chuckled. "Your fate is being decided right now too... the US president is speaking before Parliament."

Ali stooped, gathering the chips that had fallen from the vein, and placing them carefully in the cart. Turning to face the guard, she said, "And my fate, what concern is it to you?"

Meanwhile inside the prison complex, the guards would seem to hover over Ali still, one huffing loudly. "It isn't of any concern to me, I just find it frakking hilarious that your world is working so hard to apprehend you from us." The guard said as he watched her chip the trinnium away. "You better hydrate."

Ali nodded, and then picked up one of the hoses lying around, taking a few long drinks of water, the cool liquid refreshing, restorative somehow. In the desert, water was a rare treasure, one quickly sought after once found. For this reason, oases often became town centers. "I know little of the politics of my world, in this day," Ali said as she returned to the vein, pickaxe in hand, resuming the mining of the trinnium. "It is no concern of mine what those in power want from one another."

The Mines still maintained their hellish appearance, though water was available, it was intended to keep the workers going, the conditions would be grueling as the heat and pressure pushed the human body to its limits, though there was an energy field keeping the pressure out, because it was closer to the core gravity was slightly higher, everything appeared heavier in this hellish mines. Lava seeping out a small crack before Ali, dripping down onto the pickaxe, but the guards did not care.

The cloth of her jumpsuit around her neck, arms, and upper back was soaked through, perspiration a sheen over her face and arms as Ali instantly drew back at the sight of red-hot lava dripped onto the end of her pickaxe. She stumbled backward, pickaxe in hand, but it was now damaged, and upon a trial swing against the vein, unable to effectively dislodge any further chips of trinnium. Ali frowned. This was a problem. "Ahtaaju almusa'ada," she whispered. I need help.

The Guard seemed to glare at her and then he shouted. "Mine the gods damned trinnium or you'll get a lashing!" He shouted as he looked to the damaged pickaxe, which dripped some magma, there was still more magma dripping from the walls next to the vein, a bluish shimmering around the small holes where the rock was weak from the magma trying to seep through the walls. The Guard inspecting the crack, then dousing it with the hose causing it to harden and then seal up the crack, a new pickaxe handed over as the guard barked. "Get back to work!"

Ali returned to working, more carefully this time, as she chipped away at the vein, unwilling to risk damaging the second pickaxe as she resumed her slow but steady pace. After a minute or so, Ali put down the pickaxe, stooping to retrieve the raw trinnium chips that had fallen from the vein, as she placed them gently, one by one, in the cart for another prisoner to retrieve. She then turned back to the wall to continue the laborious process. The work was almost mind-numbing, and Ali appreciated it, wanting to forget what had happened as of late. She did not want to remember, because if she remembered, then the fears would come back, and the fears were dark, dark.

Two guards would enter the Hellish mines, they were different from the Combat armored prison guards the oversaw and oppressed the people inside the prison. They were LDA Agents, escorted by several prison guards. The Guard watching Tahira would turn to them, and then he turned back to Tahira. "Guess what wench, you're going to Triad!"

Ali turned, and set down the pickaxe carefully, gaze sliding across the faces of the unfamiliar men and women, too many of them. All for her? They were all here for her? She wiped her brow with her sleeve, and it came away wet. Ali blinked slowly. What was it the man had said to her? "I - what is happening?" she stammered, unsure now of the English words.

The President would be permitted to tour Langara and its cities as he saw fit, all while the guards in the prison collected Tahira. "Come with us." An LDA Agent said as a few beads of sweat formed on his forehead from the intense heat of the mines, motioning to the elevator they would cuff Tahira in a set of binders, and closely escort her towards the elevator to face her fate.

Ali did not resist the LDA agent as he chained her, following them to the elevator, all the while wondering what was happening. Was she to be freed? Condemned? Or was there something else, something she was missing, and did not know it. "La haula wala quwata illa billah," she murmured, reciting the words slowly in a low, even tone.

The ride to the elevator would seem long as it made its ascent into the upper levels of the prison, Tahira would then be led through the hallways, a set of familiar wooden doors at the end of the hallway. The doors would be opened and a familiar sleek ultra-modern chamber would be seen before them, the three judges, and Minister Chaska standing in as the Chief Opposer, with no lawyer standing in as the Protector. A loud bang of a gavel heard as Tahira was escorted to the table laid out for the Seeker (Defendant), Travell seen speaking up. "Triad now begins!"

Ali flinched at the sound of the gavel, momentarily shutting her eyes, but then she let her gaze drift about the chamber, recognizing the faces of the judges, but not the woman standing opposite her, though her features much resembled Ali's own, in the dark hair and eyes, and olive complexion. She did not know where to direct her gaze, and so she let it rest on the neck of Travell, knowing that the woman was a judge here.

"Tahira Ali, you are being tried for your crimes against the Aschen people. As of now the pardon has been overturned." Travell said as she looked down at Tahira. "The proceedings of Triad will begin, Guardian, will you swear in both Minister Chaska and Tahira Ali please?" Travell said as the guard approached Tahira. "In the name of the Lords of Kobol do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?" He asked as he motioned for Tahira to place her hand on the book of the word and raise her right hand.

Ali rested her hand on the book, raising the other one, as much as she could with the binders. "I so swear," she said softly, wondering at what had happened. Ali looked up at Travell in confusion. How had this happened? What was happening now? She did not know any of these things.

Travell would note Tahira's confusion and then she spoke up. "Simply put Parliament has overturned your pardon. You're being tried for those crimes in which you were previously immune." Travell said as she spoke up. "Minister Chaska, do you have anything to say?" Chaska then shook her head and then she brought her gaze over to Tahira. "Do you have any defense for your crimes?" She asked as she watched Tahira.

Ali's gaze continued to rest on Travell's neck, out of respect, and she said, "I cannot excuse what has been done. Only to say I know it was wrong, the many things, and I have tried to do nothing but good these last twenty year."

Travell would stare at Tahira for a moment and then she spoke. "So an admission of guilt? Because this would make my sentencing much easier." Travell said, keeping her gaze upon Tahira, watching her.

The look on Ali's face was pained, marked with the same sorrow that rarely seemed to leave her. "I swore to tell the truth," she said, "and to deny what I have done would be a lie."

"Very well, then this Triad will be concluded with the sentencing." Travell said, shaking her head. She was somewhat surprised that Tahira made no attempt to defend herself, so the sentence would be decided. "In the name of the Lords of Kobol and the name of Justice, I hereby sentence you to Hadante, for the remainder of your days, with the possibility of parole in ten yahrens, presuming you live that long." She said then she let the gavel descend upon the podium. "You will ship out next Secton."

Ali flinched, again, at the sound of the gavel, and then looked up at Travell, gaze resting on the judge's chin. "Hazrat - " she began, uncertainly, "what will happen then?" The question was almost childlike, hesitant, unsure.

"You will be transported to Hadante, beyond that your fate is in your hands, there are no walls, no guards, no way off, it's survival of the fittest." Travell explained.

Ali shook her head slowly in confusion. "I do not understand," she said, with a small, thoughtful frown. Survival of the fittest? What was that? And how could there be a prison with no walls and no guards? This she did not understand.

"Hadante is a planet, a prison planet, with no walls, no guards, only convicts, there's no way off the ship, no way to survive, it's a penal colony, food is shipped once a day, Hadante is notorious for its hard life."

Ali nodded then, once. "And I am going there," she said, with a thoughtful pause, hiding the fact that she was, at least in part, afraid. She was accustomed to harsh climate from her childhood in the desert, but not to life among convicts. "Before I go, can you tell me, Hazrat, what has happened to Sophia Voth, who is friend to me? Please. . ."

Travell paused a moment as the guards approached Tahira and stood over her. "Sophia is in Tauron at the moment, she is likely resting comfortably." The judge explained as guards approached to take her back to her cell. "You are finally serving your justice for your crimes. But there is a bright side; the FBI will no longer pursue you. Guards, take her back to her cell." Travell said as the guards did just that, moved to escort Tahira back to her cell.

"Thank you," Ali said to Travell. "Thank you for telling me that. I - I was worried for her. If you see her, Hazrat, tell her for me, please." And then she turned to surrender herself to the guards, wondering whether this was how it was supposed to end.

Aschen did not have laws concerning how prisoners were treated, so a majority of companies had contracts with the prisons for cheap slave labor, with a cut of the profits it allowed the prisons to be well maintained, along with providing profits for the companies, which helped to deter crime. Tahira would be shown back to her cell. It probably wouldn't end there, she would be sent to Hadante, and an entirely new chapter in her life would begin, unlike the deserts of the Middle East, Hadante was a cold world, almost inhospitable, there were few flora along rivers, and the occasional prisoner settlement, though Hadante was starting to show signs of a prison civilization, some managing to get by on meager agriculture.

Once returned to her cell in the prison, Ali would ask whether her own clothes and other possessions, seized upon entry here, would be returned when she was sent to Hadante. She longed for her own clothes, made to protect against both the heat of the day and the frigid cold of the night, the duality in weather marking the mountainous desert she had been raised in. But mostly, she longed for the photograph in her pocket, the one of Kami. It frightened her, that she could not remember the details of Kami's face, but could see each and every one of her victims in her mind. And so she asked the guards.

The guard in question would bring his gaze over to Tahira and then speak up. "Yes they will all be returned, any weapons will also be returned, because believe me, you'll need them." He said as the cell door opened with a hiss. "Any food will become valuable, as the food shipments are once a day, and there's definitely not enough to go around, you also better make friends, your life will depend on it." He said as he motioned for her to enter the cell, to sleep for the night.

Ali thanked the guard, though she had not had any weapons upon her arrest, having stabbed her own wanted poster with her knife, and leaving it there. "My life will be what it will be, and it will end when it ends," she said, entering her cell, unsure what would await her on Hadante. Perhaps it would be the will of Providence that she die there, forgotten by all. But she took heart in the guard's words. She would see Kami's face again.

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Hadante: Part One

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:56 pm

After the Triad Tahira would be promptly escorted back to her cell. It wasn't long before the buzzer sounded and it was lights out, the lights shutting off in all through the prison for what was likely another sleepless night. Things would begin to quiet down, save for the occasional clamoring of the various guards. The night would probably go by slowly, or quickly depending on Tahira's perception and state of mind. Morning would come and the lights would quickly flicker back on, with Tahira's cell opening up as two combat armored guards stood in the doorway. "It's time for you to face your fate, Tahira Ali. The prison transport leaves at high-sun." The guard said as they moved to place her in restraints, it would be a long prison barge ride to Hadante.

Ali looked up, expression blank, staring almost as if in confusion at the two armed guards in the cell's doorway. She stood, unsteadily, uncertain of what was to come, and let the guards place her in restraints, all the while wondering when her possessions would be returned to her, and whether Sophia would hear of her fate - she half-hoped the other woman would find out, because Ali thought Sophia too might be worried about her.

Slowly and surely, the guards lead Ali through the halls of the prison complex, marching her through people grunting and cheering, screaming expletives among other things, the heavily armed and armored guards unfazed, a prison van would be waiting outside the prison to take her to the prison barge from the Sagittaron spaceport, there Tahira would board a barge headed for Hadante. "You know what's in store for you, correct?" One of the guards asked as another walked alongside with a briefcase filled with Tahira's possessions, the only things that would be found missing would be the forged documents, replaced with a prisoner ID Card. Tahira's implant would allow the stations orbiting Hadante to track her, making escape very difficult.

"La haula wala quwata illa billah, la haula wala quwata illa billah." Ali repeated the words, as if a mantra of protection, as she was led through the halls, looking down, imagining she was invisible. All these people were shouting at her - looking at her - and she could not bear to look and see this happening, though she knew it to be true. When they arrived outside at the prison van, Ali turned and looked at the guard who spoke to her. "In part," she said, "but not in whole."

"Hey shut the frak up!" A Guard barked before smacking Ali on the back of the head. "You'll quit that jibber jabber." He added as she was led out to the prison van, the back doors to the cage like back of the van opened up as Ali was hefted into the van, the doors closing when she was inside, the sounds of the engine turning over heard as the van powered up and then began to drive. Tahira left on the cold metal floor of the back of the van, which exited the gates of the prison, and began its descent down the winding road of the mountain, everything was silent, save for the whir of the engine.

Ali winced in pain at the smack on the back of the head, which had only exacerbated the existing bruises, and she said no more, kneeling in a squatting position in the back of the van, as she realized with growing trepidation that she knew almost nothing about Hadante, that she knew no one there, and that each moment, she grew more alone, and, to her dismay and disconcertment, more afraid by the moment. "La haula wala quwata illa billah," she whispered, one final time, taking little comfort from the prayer.

The van continued its drive, leaving Tahira in solitude, about an hour would go by and the van would come to a stop, the darkness of the van giving way to a bright light from the sun shining overhead, deafening roars of engines heard as the prison barge was fueled and prepped for launch. Prisoners by the dozens being led onboard the large transport, Tahira getting the chance to see a Spaceship up close before the ride to Hadante, the guards would grab her by her restraints, and slowly lead her up a rather long ramp up towards the top, where there was a door into the hold of the prison ship, the suction from its massive engines kicking up quite a wind. The sound almost deafening as the guards led her into the cramped, fenced prison hold, throwing her in a small cell comprised of what looked like nothing more than chain link, a cattle transport for humans almost, the conditions were dark and dismal, a miserable existence.

Ali looked around, squinting in the sudden light, marveling at the sight of the spaceship even as she wanted desperately to cover her ears, to block out the thunderous roar, but then they were inside, and before she could blink, she was thrown brutally into a small, cramped space cordoned off with chain-link metal, wincing at the sudden pain of impact against the barrier, as she brought herself to a kneeling position, looking up and around.

The Ship continued its startup procedures even as Tahira was placed in the cell. Whirring heard in the background, what could be heard above the clamoring of the other prisoners. People shouted and rattled the cages as the guards patrolled up and down the cell block, it was much like people in cages, a very crude setup as opposed to the clean industrialized atmosphere of Whispering Mountain. In the prison Cell next to Tahira was a young man, he was maybe in his early twenties, an infinity symbol tattooed on his wrist as he looked over to Tahira. "You look a little old to be on a barge headed to Hadante." The man said as he turned to the older woman. "In fact you don't look like you belong here at all." He said as he sat on the bench in his cell and would keep his eyes on the woman. "So what brings you to the Astral Queen?" He asked as he turned and watched the other prisoners. "I bombed a Lev train in Queenstown."

Ali squinted, almost shutting her eyes in futile effort to block out the cacophonous din of the ship's hold as she turned to face the young man next to her, still in the kneeling position. It took a few moments before her mind wrapped itself around the English words, and then she thought she understood them. Ali frowned then, a deep frown cutting into her features as her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "I was a. . . al-ar'khabiyah. . . a terrorist," she said, not remembering the English word immediately.

"You were? So was I." He said as he looked to the symbol that was delicately tattooed on his wrist. "I was a part of the Soldiers of the One." He said as he looked around at all the other prisoners. "I've been to Hadante once, I did a yahren there, it's not a place you want to be alone, you learn to make friends quickly on Hadante, or you die. It's that simple." He said as he extended his hand. "My name is Youseef... I'm from Tauron." He added as he knelt beside the cage that separated Tahira and Joseph. "The one shall rise up and banish the many -- so say we all."

Ali stared at the man's hand for a moment, his name like those of her neighbors and countrymen, a familiar name. She did not know what to say, but she reached for his hand too, and said, "My name is Tahira. I am called Tahira Ali." And she looked at him, at his chin, avoiding eye contact with those who might have been strangers, as was her culturally-induced habit.

"I bombed a lev train to propagate the message." He said as he looked to the floor. "Hadante is a very cold and unforgiving world, you might want to stay in Hadante City." He said as he watched her for a moment. "So why did you do what you did? Was it for the one true god? A just cause?" He asked as he sat and leaned against the trinnium chain link that was separating them. "Hadante has some amenities though, we've managed to craft a small settlement out of what we had, Hadante is actually surprisingly rich.. if you know what to look for.. we even have some brainy types.. we're hoping to build a ship and get off the planet once we're sent there."

Ali stared at the side of the man's face, her frown deepening, the look in her eyes now more sorrowful than vacant. "God would rightly damn me for what I have done, not praise me. I never did it for such glory. Vain, vile lies, propagated by the fervently devout." She glanced to the side for a moment, then back toward Youseef. "There is no justice in murder."

"There is when it's a just cause, the oppressors must die, don't you see? The Confederation and it's lackeys are rife with corruption and bribery, a truly unjust civilization, they use us all as pawns in their game of galactic domination." He said as he looked down to the symbol on his wrist. "They are hedonistic, their culture decadent, they care not for the sick and the weak, all lies." He said, narrowing his eyes. "God will punish them all."

"God will punish those who break his sacred laws - people such as you and I," Ali countered, her voice dangerously soft, though she still did not make eye contact. "Yes, oppressors too do great wrong, but they will not be alone in facing judgment. In my homeland, I know the leaders were such as do evil against all, and who neglect the widow and the fatherless. This knowledge does not absolve me of my sins."

"Would it not justify your actions? If someone murders your family, is it okay to exact revenge? Taurans believe that there must be blood for blood, one does not truly die unless they have been avenged." He said as the ship continued on its course, heading to the penal colony of Hadante. "It's going to be a long ride, the first FTL jump will probably be in a few centars."

"In my homeland, it is the same. Your sister, your father, your son is killed, and you kill the one who did it. But under God, this is not justice. Murder remains so." Ali continued to stare at the man's chin, unsure what he meant by FTL jump. She did not ask. "What I did was wrong," she said flatly. "I knew it then, and I know it now. Why justify what is evil? It is only a lie peaceable for the deceiver to entertain."

"Blood for blood..." He said as he looked to the prisoner across from him and then back to Tahira. "Living on the hellhole that is Hadante is not justice, it's a way for the government to purge us from society, they say they will feed you on Hadante.. They don't. The food shipments stopped coming, I guess they found people growing food on the planet." He said as he paused then spoke. "So what is your homeland?"

"I hail from Mutalistan," Ali said, and she closed her eyes then, leaning her head against the chain link fence towards Youseef. "Justice is not for man to dispense, but it is of God."

"Never heard of it." He said as he shrugged and then he looked back to Tahira. "How do you know god's intention? One can never claim to know god, we try to follow God's path that he has set out from us, our destiny is to allow the one true god to cast out the many, to do away with the hedonistic society that lacks morals... this Mutalistan.. is it somewhere in Tal'dor?"

"Mutalistan is in the Orient," Ali continued, her eyes still closed. "I do not know God. I cannot claim it. I know of God, that God is al-malik, al-quddus, al-aziz, al-mu'min, al-khaliq, as-sami, al-basir, al-khabir, and. . . al-hakam." The almighty king, the perfect, the almighty, the affirmer of truth, the all hearing, the all seeing, the creator, and the judge. These she listed, unsure of the words in English. "If God is al-hakam, judge, of all, then the way of God is the way of justice, and the way of justice frowns upon murder."

"I have no frakking idea what you just said." The man said as he looked to Tahira like she had three heads. "Well.. we're just discovering god, and hope that his holiness is our liberation." The man said as he leaned against the chain link once more. "May he protect us in the times to come." Youseef added. "Hopefully the heathens will see justice."

Ali opened her eyes then, staring into Youseef, though she still, noticeably, did not make eye contact. "If you truly think murder can ever be justice, then you understand nothing of justice," she said, the words spoken with more conviction than anything else she had said to him.

Iusif then would shake his head some and then he started to slink away from Tahira to go back to the bed that was laid out in his cell. "Hadante is not going to be an easy life. God be with us." He said as he shifted and then the ship would begin to accelerate more as it maintained its course, twenty minutes later, everything would seem to be distorted as the ship made its FTL jump, after a brief lapse, everything would return to normal as the ship maintained its current course, under viper escort, it would arrive on Hadante in one day, and that day would be when Tahira's life would change forever.

Ali looked away, watching the other prisoners, in another direction, lips hardening into a thin, harsh line, her eyes narrowed as she imagined just how terrible life on Hadante might be. She knew almost nothing of the place, but she did know this - she was afraid, and rightly so. She would be stupid if she were not afraid.

Once the FTL jump was completed, it would be several more hours until the next jump was completed, and by the time lights were out, then back on again the announcement would blare over the loudspeaker. "Attention all prisoners, we are preparing for planetary approach, hold onto something tight, once we land you'll disembark the ship, and find yourselves the nearest settlement, welcome to Hadante folks, we hope you enjoyed your flight on prison barge liners." The crew joked as Iusif looked to Tahira.

"You better hold onto something, the ship will land and then we'll all be kicked off."

Ali nodded, frowning as she grabbed onto the chain links facing Iusif's cell, holding on for dear life. "What is happening?" she asked the other man, voice soft, almost trembling.

"We're on planetary approach." He said as the ship began to shake and rumble slightly as it made its descent towards the surface, turbulence high as the ship continued to descend, after a few moments everything felt solid again as the ship touched down, Iusif speaking up. "We're here." He said as he stood from his bed, guards seen walking through the cell block, opening cells and pushing people towards a large elevator in the center of the room, large enough to hold everyone, soon Iusif would be pulled, then Tahira as guards rattled the cages.

"Come on we ain't got all day!" One soldier barked.

Ali stumbled forward, following the others, unsure where they were going, or how long this would be, or what Hadante would look like. She wondered vaguely whether her belongings would be returned, and whether there would be anyone whose strange kindnesses might dispel the frightful notions of this place repeated continuously. "La haula wala quwata illa billah," she murmured as she was led toward the elevator.

Continuing to push the people onto the elevator, it would then make its descent with a loud hiss, all the prisoners clamoring as the guards pushed everyone on as it descended, Iusif standing in the center of the crowd as he waited, frigid cold winds began to rush in as the airlock disengaged as the platform continued to descend, then it came to a stop as it landed on the ground, the gathering of tents and shanties gathered around a large concrete building seen down in the valley below. Everyone's bags then were tossed down onto the ground, including Tahira's, once everyone was off the platform it began to rise up into the ship, the ice cold, gloomy, almost arid scenery of Hadante playing itself out before Tahira.

Ali looked around at the panoramic view of Hadante's skyline, the cold biting, slicing through her, a cold not wholly unlike the frigid frost of the desert night, as she squinted, wind slicing into her face. After a few moments, Ali turned, noticing the pile of baggage for the first time, and she moved to look for her belongings. She heaved a few bags to the side of the pile before she found her own, and once she did so, she clutched it in her hands, once more looking around like a lost horse.

Once everything was unloaded, including all the prisoners, the ship's engines would kick on and it would begin to lift off. Hadante was situated in a binary star system, which itself was located inside an ionized nebula, making things like DRADIS and other navigational equipment useless. Hadante was essentially invisible to all but those who knew it was there, which meant escape would be very difficult, as the storm prevented the plotting of FTL Jumps, a special warp gate allowed ships to come and go, which lead them outside the nebula. The Planet's magnetic field protecting the ships and defense stations in orbit from the lethal radiation inside the nebula, as a ship traveling through the nebula, would be disabled from the radiation.

Ali looked inside the bag, finding her clothes - her shalwar kameez, made of a thick, soft cotton that kept her cool in the summer months and warm in the winter ones, and her long coat, made of the same cotton - her letters, the Saudi wanted poster, and the photo of Kami. Frowning, she noted her forged ID documents were missing, replaced by a small ID card identifying her as a prisoner of the Aschen government. Ali would look around, wondering whether she could find some place to change into her own clothes.

There were several places to change her clothes, in an empty tent or behind shrubbery, plenty of places provided, the ship would be gone and everyone would be left at the mercy of Hadante's unforgiving weather patterns. Storms seen on the horizon as Iusif looked to Ali. "First order of business is finding somewhere to stay and maybe some weapons and food.. I know there's a black market somewhere around here i can get stuff at." He said as he stroked his chin some.

Ali changed behind a large bush which looked half-dead but was still full enough to cover her so she would keep a sense of modesty. Once in her own clothes, Ali discarded the red jumpsuit, and then, hesitating, retrieved it and folded it in the bottom of the bag with her other possessions, putting her papers in her pockets as she slung the now-empty bag over one shoulder and clutched the prisoner ID card in her other hand, studying it curiously. It was strange, looking at her own image from afar. "Why need weapons?" she asked Iusif, half-looking at him.

"Because on Hadante, it's kill or be killed." He said as he looked her directly in the eyes. "There's a guy that I know here, he sells various weapons.. mostly Goa'uld stuff raided from an old mine." He said as he started to walk down the hill towards the settlement. "There's also rumor going around that there's people trying to build a ship to get off this rock... would you escape here if you could?" Iusif asked.

She was at once more comfortable in her own well-worn, familiar clothes, and unconsciously ran her free hand down her side, finding the feel of the fabric comforting against her palm. Ali followed Iusif as he began to walk, her own stride slow and deliberate. "Escape?" She frowned. "I will not go against sa't'a. There is no good to be gained from such a thing."

"What?" He asked as he turned to her with a bewildered look in his eye. "You won't go against it? You're frakking nuts, who wants to stay here on Hadante?" He asked as he looked to a collection of tents off in the horizon. "You'll die here, parole is just a lie to get you to behave, you're here now, the government has written us off! We don't exist to them! That's all Hadante is.. a place where you're forgotten! And I'm not going to have that!" He said as he started towards the city. "God as my witness, I will not be forgotten on some rock at the edge of Aschen space!"

Ali did not look at Iusif as they walked along, ambling slowly as most from Mutalistan did while walking about, her eyes on the ground as they moved. "I have already been forgotten," she said, unaware that though for her the words were true, they were completely wrong, as even now, all across America political commentators were discussing the merits of Maynard's speech and final decision before the Aschen Parliament, and debating cruelly whether Ali would ever survive Hadante long enough to be paroled.

"I doubt that." He said as he walked and started to make his way towards the gathering of tents, people gathered around and trading everything from scavenged food and ores, to weapons, both Goa'uld and Aschen, all unaware of the outside world, a few brainy types would be seen gathered around a rather large tent that seemed to be filled with crudely refined garbage and metal sheets. "That's the ship over there." Iusif said as he turned to Tahira, then he watched a brief fight break out, one man killing the other with a plasma pistol, ruthlessly.

Ali froze in her spot, her hand going to her mouth, eyes widening. "Ya rab," she whispered. My god. "What is this place, that men kill like this?"

"Welcome to Hadante." Iusif said as the man who killed the other man was promptly gunned down by what looked like an enforcer type, covered in tattoos and carrying a staff weapon, grumbling he trotted away, punching someone in the face on his way towards the concrete compound, that was commandeered by the warlord of Hadante, the de facto leader of this lawless land.

"This is wrong," she said, shaking her head. "This is wrong." Ali's gaze fell upon the dead man in the other man's grip, her eyes narrowed, as she realized she was gripping her prisoner ID so tightly her knuckles were white. Ali glanced down at the card, and slipped it into her pocket, releasing the fist she had inadvertently made.

"It's the way things are here, this is a prison colony, this is where all the criminals and hardened offenders in the Aschen society are sent. Expect to see far worse, pillaging, rape, murder, all the crimes in society are... perfectly legal here, the Aschen government does not intervene because simply put.. we do not exist in their eyes."

Ali gave a sidelong glance to Iusif, her frown deepening. When she spoke, her voice was low, tempered. "It does not make it right," she said, and then continued on towards the center of the tent city in her slow, shuffling pace.

"You don't understand Tahira, this is -Hadante- Everything is going to happen here regardless of if it's right or wrong don't you see! This is a prison world! Lawless! No one to stop us! I could kill that man and suffer no repercussion!"

"You will face God on Judgment Day," Ali said, turning to look Iusif in the eye.

"Do you think these people care? They don't even believe god exists, believing in their gods, and their decadence." He said as he started to walk through the shanty. "We're both lucky enough to have lived this long."

Ali looked away, then, following Iusif as he went. "I will die when I will die, Youseef. And I will face God on Judgment Day. And I will be judged for every choice I have made."

"We will all be judged by the choices we make, God is all powerful, but we must also keep in mind that god has a plan for each and every one of us, and we are only here to serve his divine purpose." Iusif said as he walked through the square of the shanty, people dealing weapons, drugs, even food was a high priced commodity, people using what cubits they could smuggle to the prison to pay for their goods.

"God does not smile upon evil choices, sayyid Youseef," Ali said, looking around at the makeshift bazaar. It was a strange sight she saw, the people selling things that any other place would clearly have been declared illegal and seized by the government. She turned to Iusif. "Do you know where we live while here?"

"Whatever tent or shacks we can kill and steal the inhabitants from, but undoubtedly they will always have a firearm of some kind." He said as he looked to the group in the black market. "We get a nice big gun and then we go and raid someone's shanty, claim it for ourselves, that's how things work here in Hadante."

Ali looked at Iusif with a disgusted expression, one of the few times in his presence she had taken on an emotional response physically to something said. "I refuse to harm another, or to let you do so on my behalf." She turned back toward the shantytown and continued walking, oblivious to whether Iusif would follow or not.

"Then you will die." He said flatly as he shook his head and continued to walk alongside her. "I'm just trying to help you keep your skin intact, because someone else won't afford you the same mercy you're affording them, it's kill or be killed, do you not have a desire for survival? People are just going to kill you anyway." He said

"Then I die," Ali said flatly. "And if I die, it be the will of Providence," Ali said. She held out her hands, palm up, toward Iusif. "What care you for my life? Why care whether I live or die? My hands are already stained red with the lifeblood of many men - what good to mark them further?" She dropped her hands to her side. "Bismillah, in the name of God, I choose not to kill."

"Have fun then, you won't last long on Hadante." He said with a chuckle as he pulled out a plasma pistol and headed to the Bazaar, he was going to negotiate with someone's life. Threaten them for a weapon or money or anything, it wasn't long before Tahira would witness another murder, a scuffle turning into one man snapping another's neck.

"Ya rab, ahtaaju almusa'ada," Ali murmured, and then whispered a short prayer for the dead man. She continued on her way, walking past the rows of shanties where men lived here, hoping she would find the outskirts of the 'town' like place, away from this madness.

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Hadante: Part Two

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:07 pm

The outskirts would be a short walk away from the black market. People clamoring about, even though murders and killings were commonplace, people didn't seem to pay any heed to anything that was going on around them. They were all prisoners of heinous crimes, beyond redemption, so they continued their life, even on Hadante.

Ali, in this one important way, was different from most of the other prisoners on Hadante. She believed with great conviction that her crimes were evil, and she also believed, with equal conviction, that she was subject to the rule of the authorities - in this case, the Aschen judge who had sentenced her here. Now that she was on the outskirts of the town area, Ali had a chance to calm herself, to look around, and she would look away from the town, to see whether she couldn't find a place to stay, however temporarily, away from the violent rabble.

In the outskirts there would be nothing but rock, mountain, shrubbery and the occasional isolated tent, people had even erected shanties of wrecked ships that they had found littering the surface, ships that were disabled before the Aschen colonized the planet, there was another settlement several miles away, one more civilized then the prison city, a crashed Goa'uld mothership, City of Gold it was called, where prisoners that were sent that lived there, worked to better Hadante.

Ali kept walking at her slow, steady pace, used to the long, quiet hike in extreme weather conditions, as this was how she had traveled in Mutalistan - on foot and across long distances, under the burning heat of the sun or the deathly frigidity of the night. After a mile or two, her pace slowed further, encumbered by a growing, stabbing pain down her left leg, and she favored her left side more, a slight limp progressing into a heavy limp as she moved through the mountainous area, wordless and determined, not looking back. Already, Iusif would have forgotten her, she thought, not without some small dismay.

When Ali would make her way through the mountains of Hadante, the suns would begin to set, their light obscured by the nebula which the planet was situated in, if Tahira walked long enough the mountains would give way to rocky crags with small shrubs scattered through the path and the mountain area, which gave way to view a valley before her, inside the valley was a gathering of tents around the wreckage of a large ship, a pyramid in the center of the wreckage, the ruins of an old Goa'uld mothership, this was one of the wealthier settlements on Hadante. To Tahira's east, a single Viper would have landed on the surface as well, a young black haired woman climbing out from the Viper, clad in dark green combat gear, armed with a plasma rifle, to look like one of the more prominent prisoners here. The howling of the wind heard, as clouds loomed on the horizon.

It grew colder. Ali continued on, though more slowly, she still moved at a steady pace, the pain almost numbed by the cold, though her clothes kept out the worst of it, retaining her body heat in a way most non-heavy clothes couldn't. She finally emerged, hours later, with the sun slipping below the horizon, to see a valley enclosed between two mountains, a fairly large settlement clustered in the center. Ali paused then, standing on top of the crag as she looked downward, and then continued on toward the settlement, oblivious to the Viper's landing, hunched over by the biting winds.

It wasn't a small settlement, it was in fact, by Hadante's standards quite a large one, roughly the size of Hadante city, the city though was entirely contained within the pyramid of the Goa'uld mothership. The woman would be standing up on a ridge, the optics in her eyes zooming in on Tahira as data scrolled across her field of vision. "There she is." The strange woman said as she then started down the hill. See was aware of her mission.

Ali made her way down the mountain, the entire journey from the mountainous crag to its precipice just a few feet above the valley wherein lay the settlement taking but half an hour, and she clambered clumsily over the precipice to emerge at the outskirts of the pyramidal shaped 'town'. Ali looked about, finally noticing the Viper, detecting some movement from it, though she could not make out the woman's figure from this distance.

The woman continued to zoom in and then she nodded. Such an advanced android would likely have all the fixings, and be a very valuable asset in combat, jumping down a rock and quickly running down the side of the hill, she would approach Tahira, neon eyes staring at the older woman before the other spoke. "Are you Tahira Ali?" The woman asked, her voice smooth, almost angelic, and she wasn't human, she seemed to lack any imperfections, something was off about this woman.

Ali looked up, inadvertently flinching at the sound of her name, spoken in an even tone by a woman who appeared to be just as human as she, but whose appearance was primarily disturbing, in some way. and not quite right. "Yes," she said slowly, "that is my name."

"Good." She said flatly as she looked to the settlement. "This way please." She added before she motioned to the settlement before her, the massive Pyramid like structure set against the bright bluish white sky that seemed to be darkening with the suns setting. "I'll get you an in with the locals so you have a warm dry place to stay."

Ali stared at the woman's chin, her gaze vacant as usual, shadows of the setting suns playing against the features of her face. "Thank you," she said softly, following the other woman, before she realized she did not know her name. "What is your name?" Ali asked, a social custom common to most cultures.

"I am Aiyanna. That is all you're going to know, the rest is classified." She said plainly as she walked through the crags and the rather worn path that was leading towards the building, which seemed rather fortified, with guards armed with Goa'uld staff weapons and zats, as well as cannons. The pyramid seemed to be covered in gold plating, a city of gold some rumored, which gleamed in the setting sun.

"Aiyanna," Ali repeated, following the younger woman as they approached the building, Ali tempted to look anywhere but at the armed guards, but then turned to look at Aiyanna, tilting her head in confusion. "What is that word, 'classified', that you say?"

"It's a big secret." She said as she turned back to Tahira, Aiyanna looking to the guards, pulling out several hundred cubits, causing the guards to stand down almost instantly as they then stood aside and the door opened up. "Excellent." She said as she walked into the pyramid structure, the guards looking to the money and grinning, then they manned their weapons as they entered the pyramid, the interior was very ornate, torches lit the hallways, and the walls looked like they were solid gold.

Ali looked away then at the bribe, staring at the ground, as she followed Aiyanna, eyes adjusting to the dimly lit interior of the pyramid, her heart beating faster, her palms growing moist. "La haula wala quwata illa billah," she whispered, the words now a comforting mantra for times of uncertainty and trouble, for times when she was struck with fear. She knew nothing of this woman or this place, and she did not know where they were going.

The woman said nothing, as she knew exactly what was going on. "Let's see now where is the Guatrau of this city.." She said as she tried to remember the schematics, which would be pulled up in her field of vision. "Ahh... okay so he's up at the pel'tak." She said as she motioned for Tahira to continue to follow, leading Tahira to a large room with a ring shaped platform in the center.

Ali understood very few of the words that Aiyanna said, but she remained in silence, unwilling to ask what each word meant. She followed the younger woman into a larger room, looking up at the platform as they entered, before quickly averting her gaze back to the floor.

Aiyanna would then point to the center of the platform and then she eyed it for a moment, and then she looked to Tahira. "Please stand in the platform." She said before she stood into the platform and looked to the pedestal for a moment. Wirelessly interfacing with the controls, almost looking like she was telepathically controlling them.

Though Ali was immediately wary of the platform, and intimidated by its centrifugal nature, innate obedience to authority overrode innate fear, and she stepped onto the platform, standing in its center, unsure what would happen next. Closing her eyes, Ali repeated the Arabic prayer, barely audibly.

Aiyanna then looked to the pedestal and it seemed to come to life all by itself, then a loud buzzing would be heard as the rings descended from the ceiling, a bright flash filling the room and once the flash subsided, they would be on what appeared to be the bridge of the ship, a throne situated in the center, where a large man adorned in various trinkets was seen, Aiyanna smiling. "Ahh here we are."

Ali winced at the sudden flash of light, and then looked up at a man seated on a throne, averting her eyes immediately out of respect, completely uncertain of what was happening and what would happen. Who was this man? she wondered silently. And what did he want with her? But these questions she did not ask.

"Are you the Guatrau of this city?" The man then nodded silently, he seemed to be adorned in various animal pelts and gold jewelry.

"And who are you, and why does it matter?" The man asked, his appearance denoted him as clearly a Tauran, the tattoos and everything. "Five thousand cubits says you care who we are."

Ali listened to the conversation intently, and then said to the man, "Forgive me, hazrat, I do not know what is happening here." Her words were soft, her accent distinct, and her fear palpable.

"I did not give you permission to speak." The Guatrau said as he raised his hand and then glared at Tahira. "I am Guatrau, I am the leader of this city, We control all of Hadante, whether or not... the prisoners in Dogsville agree with that. we have the weapons, even better, soon we'll have a working ship... I have no interest in escaping... this is my domain."

Ali stared at the floor on which she stood, instantly silenced by Guatrau's words, spoken by the one in authority. Obeisance to authority was culturally imbued in her personality, and once told she was not permitted to speak, Ali would not again speak until spoken to. Her face flushed slightly, but she said nothing.

Aiyanna would stare at the man, inspecting the tattoos on his arms and neck, she then stroked her chin and spoke, curtly. "Ha'la'tha." Aiyanna said as the man narrowed his eyes and spoke.

"Yes.. how did you know?"

She then replied. "Xέrw pollά prάgmata, eίmai Deuxmachiness." She said plainly as the Guatrau stroked his chin.

"A government spy no doubt." He said as his guards withdrew their weapons.

Aiyanna continuing. "Eίmai edώ mόno gia na epiblέpsei Tahira Almontaser."

The Guatrau then grumbled. "O fhmismέnos tromokratikέs ... aytό den eίnai ths tromokratίas, aytό eίnai mia hlikiwmέnh gynaίka.." Guatrau said, glaring at Tahira.

Ali was still staring at the floor, seemingly unresponsive but at the sound of her full name, laqab omitted, a name she had not used in many, many years, to which she gave a start, but remained wordless, ignorant of everything Aiyanna and the Guatrau had said. What was happening? She did not understand this place, this Hadante.

The two would continue to speak to each-other in the strange Greek sounding language, then Guatrau turned to Tahira. "Tahira... interesting... the infamous..." He said as he then grinned. "Welcome to Hadante... no.. welcome to my city." He said holding out a hand as money was exchanged from Aiyanna to the Guatrau. He then turned to Tahira. "You are going to do some chores for me." Guatrau added.

Ali looked up, eyes on the man's chin, avoiding eye contact as a sign of respect habitual, done without a second thought. "I beg your pardon?" she stammered, frowning slightly, unsure what the man wanted, or, more specifically, what he wanted of her.

"I want some people dead.. some bombs placed... should be easy work." He said as he shrugged and then he pulled out a photograph of the large concrete structure in the center of Hadante City. "That is the home of my rival... a rival warlord.. I want him.. and his entire army, dead."

Ali shook her head, the frown on her face deepening. "Want what you want, but I will not kill another. Not for me, not for you, nor any other man here or elsewhere." The words issued in a flat, even tone, without emotion or accusation.

"You will not do that which we want you to do, then you will die." He said as one of the guards prepared a staff weapon, which buzzed in activation as he aimed it at Tahira, Aiyanna speaking up.

"No! You Mustn't!" Guatrau then motioned his guards to draw weapons at Aiyanna. She went wide eyed and then snapped into action, with great alacrity, the staff weapon was snapped in half and when she moved to punch one of the guards, his chest cratered in a slew of blood and he flew back into the wall with a sickening crackle.

"Kef! Bas!" Ali shouted, rushing toward Aiyanna, hands outstretched. Stop! Enough! were the words she shouted, in such a situation reverting to her native language without thought.

A weapon would suddenly be discharged at Aiyanna, causing her to seemingly move at an inhuman speed, throwing her fist towards another guard, it cratered his face, crushing his skull, the man dead before he hit the ground, a bolt then struck Aiyanna in the back, sending a brief mist of synthetic blood, she then turned and withdrew her phaser, hurling several bolts of energy towards him, killing the man. Guatrau would be laughing, he was pleased at Aiyanna's skill.

"Ya rab, bas, bas," Ali whispered, unable to stop Aiyanna from killing the Guatrau's guards. She knelt by the side of the man who had fallen near where she stood, touching his face, then his chest, lightly with her fingers, her lips mouthing a silent prayer for the dead man.

She then narrowed her eyes at a nearby guard as the Guatrau ordered them to stop. The wound on Aiyanna's back vanishing in seconds, the glint of her trinnium skeleton seen as the wound closed up using nanomachines and synthetic cells replicating at an astonishing rate. Guatrau laughing. "Why do you protect this woman Deuxmachiness? A convicted terrorist refusing to do my bidding, this is priceless, but really." He then withdrew a plasma pistol and aimed it to Tahira. "You disgrace your Hataf buddies."

Ali turned, looking up at Guatrau, not his plasma pistol, her features once more expressionless. "I am no longer part of Hataf," she said softly, the same way she might have commented on the weather, even as she remained in a kneeling position beside the dead man, fingers resting on his chest, the body already growing colder.

The loud whine of the pistol would then be heard as he continued to aim the weapon at Tahira. "You swear to nonviolence, and yet you are here on Hadante!" He barked, glowering at her.

"Justice knows no time, evil no end," Ali retorted, removing her hand from the dead man's chest, splaying her fingers, palms up in a gesture of openness. "I did evil, and no matter how long past, there is still justice to be done."

"What the frak are you talking about." Guatrau said as he narrowed his eyes, still bearing aim with the weapon as he grumbled. "You had no problem committing a crime, committing crimes and you won't kill a few convicts?"

"What crimes I committed were done long ago," Ali responded, struggling a little with the English. "It does not make it right. And to do more in the same vein - t'would still be wrong. More wrong doth not make right."

"But this is Hadante.. and my word is the word of the gods!" He shouted as he slowly rose from his seat, Aiyanna standing there observing the situation as Guatrau approached Tahira slowly, his jewels, and animal skins moving with his motions as he kept the weapon aimed, Guatrau was a heavy set man, life in the lap of luxury in a prison, he had his own throne and everything. "So tell me.. are you willing to die, right here, right now?" He asked as the weapon was placed against Tahira's head. "Are you ready to die old hag!?"

It was a strange sight, the penal colony's warlord, dressed in an odd assortment of skins and jewelry, standing over the kneeling woman, pistol against her head, the two figures shadowed in the dimly lit hall. Ali closed her eyes. "If I die, it be the will of Providence," she whispered, one of her hands slipping into her pocket. Slowly, she removed the photograph of Kami, finger over the girl's face.

"So be it." He said as he slid a small lever forward, the weapon building energy as it powered for discharge, then suddenly a shard of glass impaled the man's wrist, causing him to scream, discharging the weapon which caused a green flash in Tahira's vision, the bolt just barely grazing her causing light burns as he glared at Aiyanna, pulling the shard out.

"You bitch! Kill her!" He shouted before he fired several shots at her, striking her but she still stood there, defiant as she approached him.

"We will find another settlement." She said as the man growled.

"I will hunt you down!"

Ali's eyes opened, and she staggered backward, rising from her kneeling position, Kami's photograph clutched between her fingers as she stood unsteadily, more pain clouding her vision as she did so. She muttered unintelligibly to herself, unsure whether she should remain or flee, opting in the end to remain where she was, perhaps unwisely.

Aiyanna still stood there as he pelted her with plasma bolts, glints of her trinnium skeleton seen shining in the light as they all opened fire, bolts of energy striking her, the slender feminine figure giving way to a very mechanical skeleton, reaching out with a now metallic hand she grabbed him as he gagged and choked on her grasp. Tahira could now see that this woman, was mechanical, a robot, a machine.

Aiyanna was not human. She - it - was made of trinnium, the same metal Ali had been forced to mine only a day earlier. She marveled silently at this revelation for a moment before she realized that Aiyanna's hand was choking Guatrau, and then, Ali burst forward, at once returning the photo to her pocket and throwing herself at the machination, hands outstretched, in an attempt to force Aiyanna's hand away from the man's throat.

The hand did not budge, the trinnium actuators provided her immense strength as he gagged and his face began to turn blue, she was going to kill this man, but when she saw Tahira latch onto her arm, her hand released the man, and he fell to his knees gagging, choking and gasping for air. "Why do you protect him? I do not understand." She said as everyone looked at Aiyanna in horror, in seconds, the artificial skin and tissues, concealed the skeleton once more.

Ali knelt then, reaching out for Guatrau to see that he was all right, her eyes concerned. "Are you all right?" she asked him softly, wrapping her arm around his shoulders to support him as he gasped for air. Then, face turning up to Aiyanna, her frown returned, and she said, "He is human, too."

"That is irrelevant." She said as she looked to the man, the last scars sealing up.

"It could not be more relevant," Ali replied.

"He may be human but it is irrelevant, I have an objective to secure your safety, Guatrau compromised that safety so I intervened on your behalf." She explained plainly as she brought her gaze on Tahira. "Life other than yours is of no consequence, an objective is to be achieved."

Ali's frown deepened. "What do you care whether I live or die?" she demanded of the robot, her arm still wrapped around Guatrau's shoulder.

"Because it is my objective to ensure your safety, at all costs, all other lives are completely irrelevant." She said as Guatrau stared at Aiyanna bewildered.

"Demon... a machination!" He shouted as she kept her eyes on him.

"Tahira, I advise you heed my words."

Ali squeezed the man's shoulder, once, a comforting, warm gesture. "No life is irrelevant," she said. "You would do well to remember that."

Aiyanna tilted her head, her processor was designed for her to learn, allowing her true sentience, but Aiyanna was only around for a few days, and lacked many of the human skills and attributes. "No, life is but an anomaly, it is irrelevant." She said once again, affirming. "You are no more alive then I. Your body is just a machine, crude and organic. The flesh is irrelevant, a mere vessel."

"The body be transitory, but the soul everlasting. Tell me, Aiyanna, do you have a soul?" The question was simple, asked much the same way a child might inquire as to another child's possessions. But it was heavy, laced with bitterness, offered up for the taking, though not without reluctance. Ali helped Guatrau to his feet, and then stood, unsteadily, unsure of what was to come.

"Soul...." Aiyanna said as she stared down at Tahira. "The soul is the perceived consciousness of a human being." She said as she looked up into the sky and then frowned. "The Aschen Confederation is under attack." She said as she then looked back to Tahira, the Guatrau panting and trying to catch his breath.

Ali's frown deepened, her eyes briefly capturing some emotion before they returned to their typical blank state. "I am sorry to hear that," she said, and then looked to her side, at the Guatrau, brow knotting in concern. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." He said as he looked up to Aiyanna. "Under attack.. how do you know this?" He asked as Aiyanna spoke. "Confused comm relays."

"You don't want me dead, then," Ali said to the Guatrau, now almost confused, though she tried not to show it in her inflection. And to Aiyanna, she said, "And who has attacked the Aschen?"

"The Trantor." She said as she turned back to Tahira.

The Guatrau would not want Tahira dead as she intervened to save his life, and this showed honor, something that was lacking here on Hadante as the Guatrau announced. "Let it be known that Tahira Ali will be under my personal protection, as her friend Aiyanna." He announced before Aiyanna spoke.

"They are on a genocidal crusade against the Aschen."

"I do not know who the Trantor are," Ali said, confusion dissipating somewhat at the Guatrau's words, though she did not quite understand how a man who had been ready to kill her in one instant would protect her but minutes later. This did not fit into her ideas of cultural honor. She had acted to save him because of honor and because it was not right that he should die, even if he wanted her dead. She did not save him to gain his favor. "What do they want?"

"They want to destroy our civilization." Aiyanna said as she continued to listen in on the relays being broadcasted as the Guatrau then shouted.

"They may be our captors, but it is our duty to help them.. Let's get this Ha'tak into orbit!" He shouted as his men quickly went to work.

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Hadante: Part Three

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ylanne on Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:24 pm

"The death of any civilization is a great tragedy," Ali said, shaking her head solemnly at Aiyanna's words, before she turned to the Guatrau, already back to his role as a leader. "And what do you plan to do of this war?"

"I plan on getting in and helping the Aschen, maybe they will pardon us for assisting them." He said as his men continued to work quickly and hard at activating the power sources of the ship, causing it to rumble and start to move.

"Do it because it is right, not because you seek something for your own self gain," Ali said, a hint of sadness in her voice. She looked back toward Aiyanna, silent. "You already knew of this. You come from the Aschen government, do you not? Come to watch us? A silent guardian. Eyes for the Parliament. A portent, somehow?"

"Perhaps." Aiyanna said as she turned to Tahira, the ship continued to rumble and jerk as it slowly started to lift off, Chances are the patrols over Hadante would not be there as they moved to engage Trantor forces somewhere far away from Confederation Space. To preserve freedom and allow the Civilization to live another day.

Ali watched the Guatrau's ship as it slowly rose from the platform, but she did not move from where she stood. "What do you want of me? You said you came to ensure I live. . . but why? What is so. . . important? Important about me?"

"You will be the salvation of this civilization." Aiyanna said as she stared out at the bridge window as the massive Goa'uld mothership began to gain altitude.

"We'll loom above the planet for a little bit and then we'll get our bearings, then we'll launch an attack, we will save our people," the Guatrau said.

That's when Ali finally realized she was standing on the bridge of a moving ship, for the first time in her life. Never had she been a passenger of such honor on a ship before - always, either as a stowaway or a prisoner. When she heard Aiyanna's words, Ali laughed harshly, the only reaction she had. "What? I am not even Aschen. How can you say such a thing? Your people claim I tried to destroy them."

"You speak the message of peace and forgiveness, we're hoping someone like you will resonate with the Trantor and get them to reconsider, even the most vile of fugitives aims to seek redemption." She said as the ship began to move slowly above the planet, Hadante City seen below.

Guatrau spoke up. "This Goa'uld ship has been heavily modified, this battle will be swift."

Ali gave a sidelong look to Aiyanna, eyes mirroring uncertainty. "Redemption is a lifelong journey with no end. My words mean nothing; did not your Parliament vote to overturn a pardon granted me? You make me what you want me to be. Can I not simply be who I am?"

"I'm here to protect you, however my primary objectives include ensuring the continued survival of the Aschen people." She said as the ship hovered above Hadante city as the Guatrau contemplated bombarding his rival. But he had bigger things to do.

"Your courts sentenced me to live whatever life I have left on Hadante. Why then have you permitted me to leave?"

"I have not permitted you to leave.. this ship is part of Hadante.. so technically you are still in the prison." She said as she turned to Guatrau. "What will become of this vessel upon victory?"

Guatrau would then speak up. "If we are not pardoned we'll probably be sent back to Hadante."

Ali tilted her head. Aiyanna's words confused her, but she did not question the android further on the matter. "Where are we going?" she asked the Guatrau, watching Hadante and its twin suns grow smaller through the window on the bridge.

"We are going to Battle." The Guatrau said as he watched Tahira for a moment, Hadante and its abandoned defense stations seen passing by through the windows of the ship as they moved through. Guatrau then spoke. "Prepare to make the jump into hyperspace."

Ali's features were once more expressionless, a mask not of cold disdain, nor of hardened determination, but simply vacant, lacking emotion or virtue, as she stared out at Hadante. She had never seen it like this, as she had been transported here in the cargo hold of a prison barge, without the benefit of a view. Ali wondered, then, what was expected of her. What was she supposed to do in some grand battle? Her presence here must surely be an accident.

Aiyanna stared at the bridge of the ship and then she looked to Guatrau. "Hyperspace?" She asked as she brought her gaze back out to the emptiness of space as the Goa'uld ship orbited the planet as they prepared for Hyperspace, they were wondering what the status of the battle was, if they would even be needed to go to battle.

Ali too looked to Guatrau, as if to second Aiyanna's question. She did not know what 'hyperspace' was. It was a strange word, one of the thousands of English words she had never been taught, and so did not know. It was strange, to speak to someone and understand only part of what they said, knowing that the rest too had meaning.

"Yes, Hyperspace."

Aiyanna then replied. "Goa'uld ships are not capable of the FTL that Aschen ships are, the battle could be over by the time we arrive." She said as Guatrau smiled.

"Like I said I did some modifications." He then turned to Tahira. "It means go very very fast."

"I see," Ali said with an arched eyebrow, though she really did not understand at all. She looked about the bridge, and then crossed the space between where she stood and the platform where the Guatrau's throne rested, seating herself on the ledge of the raised dais, her legs not quite long enough to reach the surface of the lower platform. From there, Ali turned to watch through the bridge window.

Guatrau then paused a moment then turned to Aiyanna. "You have language assimilation, didn't you assimilate all the Terran languages? Say something the poor woman can understand."

Aiyanna then sighed and switched to fluent Arabic. "Hyperspace is a way for a ship to travel faster than light." Aiyanna explained.

"Nam, bitt'ab, tab'an," Ali said, nodding. Yes, of course. She didn't hide her surprise at the way her native tongue was spoken by this stranger, this android, this inhuman creation that to this time had been speaking only English, that horrid, awfully difficult beast of a tongue.

Aiyanna continued. "We'll be taking this ship into battle against an alien force, we will use energy weapons most likely, compared to the Aschen Kinetic-Energy weapons." She explained as Guatrau huffed.

"Weird ass language."

"But why must we do battle? What has come that has wrought this violence between you and the Trantor?" Ali asked, directing the question to Aiyanna, though they were now separated by a greater distance, from where the android stood, and where Ali was perched on the small ledge.

"The Trantor decided that it was appropriate to attack and wipe out the Aschen people for a supposed rumor that the Aschen people wanted to eradicate all beings magical." She replied as she turned to approach Ali, Aiyanna doing away with the language barrier seemed to make communication easier, as Aiyanna could speak anything from Tauran to Chinese to Arabic as easily as she spoke English.

"It does not make unnecessary death right," Ali said, watching as Aiyanna approached, the android's figure mirrored in her own eyes, which betrayed little emotion of their own. "Why have you taken me with you?"

Meanwhile Aiyanna would keep her gaze on Tahira. "No it does not, but unnecessary death is... needed for survival." She said as she then answered the previous question. "You're here because Guatrau decided to take the ship off."

"Survival is not the most important consideration at stake," Ali responded without hesitation.

Aiyanna would simply say nothing as Tahira made those words, the Goa'uld Mothership lurching forward into a wormhole, into hyperspace. Ali didn't expect the sudden lurch of the ship, so as it moved into the wormhole, Ali slid from her perch and fell to the platform, slamming the side of her face into the bridge's metal surface as she reached out to bring herself to her knees once more, looking out over the bridge window at the unearthly sight. When Tahira was knocked down by the Goa'uld entering hyperspace, Aiyanna quickly ran up to her and helped her to her feet. "Are you okay? You took a pretty hard fall." Aiyanna explained.

"Fine, I'm fine," Ali mumbled in English, distinctly aware of the sudden pain in her joints as she rose again. She stooped, seeing that some of her possessions had fallen from her pockets - Adar's pardon - now annulled, her prisoner ID card, and Kami's photo. Ali gathered them quickly, as if to hide them from public view, and stuffed them back into her pockets.

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