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[IC] Diaspora: The Trek Outwards

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Hangar Bay C, Tethron Commerical Hub
Tethron System, Sharahazad Sector

 

The story of the “Sharahazad Crisis” had spread over the galaxy like a wildfire. A massive group of people, all arriving in the sector of otherwise little importance. Looking to buy and sell all sorts of goods. Many people saw that they could profit from the situation. Some saw the fact they could help people at the same time as a good thing, some didn’t care much for anything beyond money.

 

Ak’kar had gotten the news too. And according to some rumours, many of the refugees were interested in buying all sorts of scrap. So he loaded up his ship, and travelled. It had been quite the journey, but upon arriving at Tethron, which served as the entire sector’s main cargo hub, these rumours were confirmed. Before he even arrived at the station itself, he’d already received multiple offers for what he’d been carrying. The Oog’ol, a species who had fled, seemed particularly interested, but some others, some of them merchants themselves, also offered great prices.

 

The Leviathan landed, and as the crew got everything unloaded, Ak’kar was approached by a group of about 50 people. Some of them were Oog’ol, but the majority of them were what Ak’kar could now recognize as Asshui, another of the fleeing species. One spoke for them all, and his Galstandard was lacking.

 

“Large ship. Will pay for bringing us out of system. Different place to stay. Us, and others after. Have money or goods to offer. “  

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Ak'kar's interface tentacle twitched and let out a soft pop as it formed a transducer on it's tip.  The Illthusian prince took a second to look over the crowd of people before him.  He did not attempt to hide the ripple of color change on his rubbery skin from pale blue to light green when the promise of money was made to him, but any other outward shows of emotion were not present.  Ak'kar had undertaken this arduous journey for this exact purpose, to profit from a crisis.  Inside he felt a twinge of guilt, but stifled it with pragmatism.

 

You shall need funds to build your army.  You shall need funds to pay your crew.  You shall need funds to purchase your weapons.  Do not become overly sentimental now, especially for those that are not of Illthus.

 

At length, Ak'kar addressed the alien in front of him, his voice coming out with a deep and distinctly metallic and digital tone.  "You need not speak Galstandard.  This communicator will translate your tongue.  I can offer you travel wherever you wish to go.  Of course payment must be received before departure as is standard.  However, I would inquire why you wish to leave this system, and where it is you wish to go.  I can ascertain that you are honest folk, but I would know the possible dangers to my crew and ship before putting their lives in jeopardy."

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GM

 

The Asshui looked relieved when he heard that Galstandard was not necessary. He waited for Ak’kar to finish, then responded, sounding a lot more confident this time around. Behind him, the other refugees had brightened up ever so slightly too, as they now understood what was being talked about.

 

“Beautiful. We do not wish much, and don’t have a request of where to go. We simply want to get to a safe place, removed from this system. You appear to be a merchant, so you probably have somewhere to return to. We just ask you to take us there, or somewhere else. If there is a population there, we can adapt. “

 

“We do not feel save here. With what is happening, and how many are following after us, the system will soon be unable to deal with the load. Many are getting out while they can. I do not believe there would be any danger. We simply want to get out, and none of us have any history of violence. “

 

“Please, we beg you. Each of us has enough to pay for the journey. “

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Ak'kar listened carefully, taking in the Asshui's words.  As was his custom Ak'kar stood with hands clasped behind his back, his long claws clicking together idly.  Ak'kar was not concerned by the numbers, The Leviathan could hold them with room to spare.  He could convert portions of the cargo hold into sleeping areas if need be.  What did concern him was the root cause of the mass egress.  On a pragmatic level, if prolonged, this upheaval could have a significant effect on the galactic market, which would in turn affect his earnings.  Under the pragmatism he felt for these people.  Dispossessed and cast from their homes, he looked at each of their hopeful faces.  It was not within him to deny them their need.  And it was also not within him to charge the normal rate for passage.  He knew of a system he could drop them.  Two of the planets had agreeable populations and it was a trade center at that.  He could pick up some supplies and some goods, sell them there and drop off his passengers.  What he had to do, was think of a way to offer them the discounted passage without hurting either their pride, or his reputation.  If it got out he offered discounts it would affect profits.

 

"I am told that if one wishes to be an effective captain, that one should be in the habit of gathering useful information.  As such let me offer you a deal.  I shall provide a sizeable discount to you and your compatriots fares, if you share with me the events that led up to your egress.  You shall dine with me, in the captain's mess and tell me your tale.  As far as our departure, please allow a solar day for my men to offload our cargo, bring on new goods, and allow them what they call "shore leave."  We will leave this time on the morrow.  Is that aggreable to you and yours?"   Without waiting for an answer Ak'kar turned to his left and shouted, "Mr. Skree!  We are to have passengers.  Please prepare sleeping quarters and collect fees in advance of our departure this time tomorrow."

 

"Aye!"  came the report from the gristeld first mate.  

 

"Do not fret.  Whilst aboard my ship you're safety will be guaranteed.  And the Phenoxi system where we are headed will fulfill the requirements you have stated.  Our journey will not be overly long, and if any of yours wish gainful employment of a more uncertain nature, I would be glad to take them on."

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 GM

 

Ak’kar’s colour change got him some impressed looks by the younger members of the group, whom it seemed to cheer up a fair bit. Which, judging by their condition and look, was something they could use. The word discount further lifted everybody’s spirits. The condition, not so much. Some of them looked okay with it, but a few looked almost horrified. There was intense talking between various parties, too much for Ak’kar’s translator to pick out from the noise. He could pick up a few words, from celebration to doubt, to sadness and fear.

 

Their leader, or at least the one who spoke Galstandard, was fast to reply, before any of the crowd had reached an accord. “Thank you. We agree with those conditions, though I cannot promise all of ours will talk, some have had a more difficult time than others. “

 

“Is it possible for us to move onto the ship already, even if we only leave tomorrow? Many of us have nowhere to stay, and these streets are not the most secure. Some cannot handle to defend themselves. “

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Ak'kar nodded a small acknowledgement.  "This is satisfactory.  Give my crew an hour to prepare the quarters.  Have a list of your dietary requirements made and give them to my first officer, Mr Skree.  Until then you may all avail yourselves of the cargo bay and mess hall.  I request that you do your utmost to give my crew a wide berth as they work, however as this will expedite the process of unloading our salvage and preparing your quarters.  If you have any grievances, or requests to make, please inform Mr. Skree and he will see to it, or report to me if necessary.  Due to the time restraints you will have to stow your own belongings, I'm afraid." 

 

Noticing their reaction to his color change, Ak'kar chided himself and returned to his normal pale blue color.  They may have been impressed and not understood what the color change implied, but that was no excuse for such a blatant display of emotion.  Their request for immediate lodgings did not surprised him, as they had a look he was familiar with.  A look of people with nowhere else to go.  He remembered well that look upon himself when he first was dropped off after escaping the Grue.  His cybernetic tentacles twitched at the remembered nightmares of that time.  These people made him uncomfortable.  Their openness, their need.  They are vulnerable.  As you were.  You made yourself like coridium.  They will do the same.

 

"If you will excuse me, I have a ship to tend to.  Good day and have a pleasant stay about The Leviathan."  With that, Ak'kar turned on his heel and headed back into the ship to his quarters.  He needed some time for introspection, to compose himself once again.

 

When arriving at his quarters Ak'kar decided that his time was better spent gathering information on the crisis.  Self pity would have to wait.  Accessing the computer terminal in his quarters with his interface tentacle Ak'kar set about accessing all the information he could find on the crisis at hand.

Edited by EviscerusNox

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GM

 

Immediately, the various refugees began to talk to Mr. Skree. In order to pay their fees, to ask various information, and to figure out their next step. Some moved into the ship directly, while a few others, satisfied with what they’d achieved, went back into the station, probably in order to finish up whatever business they had there.

 

The crew, for their part, did as they’d been commanded. While many of them worked on getting everything offloaded, some began to get the additional quarters ready. They were on the ship, but due to not being used, they often just served as additional storage for smaller items. But with the amount of refugees moving in, probably twice as many as the crew the ship usually had, as much space as possible was necessary.

 

Ak’kar, for his part, began to scour the web. So far, information had been sparse. The entire crisis had only started a few days ago, when an Oog’ol tribeship appaeared inside a quarantined system. Before any decision had been reached between them and the system’s owners, more fleets began to appear all around the Sharahazad Sector, many in a state of barely functioning. So far, little was known. Many of the refugees talked about the Zem, who they were fleeing. Some others spoke of the Nobles. Information was sparse, only that they were the force pushing them out.

 

So far, the refugees were mainly of two species, the Oog’ol and the Asshui. Both were fairly new on the galactic scale, and before the event, the Oog’ol had been essentially unknown outside of their home area. The Asshui were slightly less obscure, with some occasionally wandering into known space. Oog’ol had a reputation of fierce warriors, who bested even the most difficult conditions. Including the vacuum of space. Asshui were known for their natural tendency to take risk, and for their high rate of reproduction.

 

Other than that, most information was just reports of the current events, various refugee camps being opened, many trying to flee even further, and a lot of people from all over the galaxy travelling towards the sector.

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Ak'kar leaned back in his chair, digesting the information he had obtained.  He was not sure, but this looked to be just the beginning of something both a whole lot larger, and a lot more dangerous.  This "Zem" mentioned felt ominous to Ak'kar and reminded him of the stories he was told of the days just before the Grue Unity came to Illthus.  A vague, ominous force from outside whose shadow encroaches and threatens the status quo of the galaxy at large.  However, worrying about what might be on the horizon had done his people no good, they should have acted.  He was not going to do the same and just wring his tentacles.  Abruptly Ak'kar stood and hit the communicator on the wall to speak to his first officer.

 

"Mr. Skree!  For the duration of this journey increase the security around the guest quarters and all areas of the ship the civilians will have access to.  Keep especially close watch on the Oog'ol passengers.  They are known for their combative nature.  Do not, however, treat our guests unkindly.  This is merely a precautionary measure, understood?"

 

"Aye!" came the monosyllabic response of his first officer.  Mr. Skree rarely spoke two words when one would do.

 

Ak'kar released the button on the communicator and stared out the porthole of his quarters into the shining lights and bustling activity of the Tethron Commercial Hub.  Being alone he did nothing to hide his broiling emotions and so his color shifted from pale blue to a deeper purple.  He spent much time staring out that window remembering the battles of his youth, the pain of defeat, and the fear and helplessness of being cast to the stars, utterly alone and unwanted.  It was a fate that too many in this system were currently sharing.

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GM

 

Balancing between the awaited shore-leave and the increased amount of manpower required on the ship was not easy task, and Ak’kar had to spend some time watching what was happening on the ship himself in order to not create any holes in the coverage. Time passed quickly, the guests seemed to settle in quite nicely, many of them glad to sleep on actual beds for the first time in who knew how long.

 

Others just sat around, spending their time talking, Ak’kar managing to catch some parts of their conversations. It was gossip mainly, or people talking about what they’d left behind. A few talking about what they planned to do once the ship arrived. Others just were content spending their time alone.

 

Evening approached, and people began to set up for the dinner that Ak’kar had invited them to. The Mess Hall probably couldn’t hold everybody, but a few spare crates were repurposed into tables, and soon everybody fit into the cargo bay, as the first food was brought. The Asshui who had first approached Ak’kar sat next to him. “I must again thank you. Now, what did you want to ask of us?”

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Akkar did something that he was told most races do to acknowledge another.  Akkar nodded his head.  It was a lilted thing, not at all natural to him and it was obvious it was not his custom but the message was received.

 

"Thanks are not necessary, you and your fellow passengers have paid, that is sufficient.  As for the questions I had they are few.  Mostly I wish to know more about this, Zem, and what they did to drive you and yours from your homes.  I understand this is a difficult request.  Know that my home too was taken from me and my people.  The Grue have done much the same to my world as the Zem have done to yours.  This is temporary, however, as the Grue will face justice one day for their crimes against Illthus.  I pray it is the same for the Zem.  You may wonder why I need this information.  Suffice to say that this crisis has in the short term supplied me and those like me with a significant business opportunity.  However prolonged conflict can prove to be detrimental to me.  Knowledge is the best defense against profit loss and loss of life.  It may be that I can help more of your kind, and in other ways than transport.  It may be I can give vital information to certain interested security forces to prevent this from happening to other worlds.  It all depends on what information you can provide.  The loss of your home may or may not be permanent.  I know as a concerned aggreeable citizen that you would not see the same fate befall others if in your power."  Ak'kar paused to ladle the protein paste that was his customary meal into his mouth.  He had become much better at navigating the cybernetic tentacles over the years.  At times they seemed to have a mind of their own and had spilled much in the way of nutrients onto his uniform in the past.

 

"This information however is voluntary.  If you do not wish to recount this story I would understand."

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GM

 

Everything quieted down when the name of the Zem was spoken. Some people looked at Ak’kar with a sense of surprise, some feat, others were awaiting something. A few people shook, and at least a few seemed to feel very unwell all of the sudden. A small minority also didn’t pay too much attention, instead indulging in their first proper meal in who knew how long.

 

The leader took a few seconds to consider his words, before continuing slowly. He too spoke with a lot of uncertainty, and most likely some fear, in his words. “We call them Nobles, Zem is what they refer to themselves as. They were a small empire located not too far from our homeland. Not specially noteworthy, they remained in their core systems, hardly ever going beyond, but did not allow anybody else there, safe for very few occasions. “

 

“Our fleet was defeated within hours. Noone is sure how, some survived, but they all report wildly different things. Then came the invasion. They came only to take our land, by whatever means they had to. They forced us to escape, however necessary. “

 

“We do not know how far they will reach, so we want to get away from even this place. Will we ever return? We do not know, and it is not our main concern at this point in time.“

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Ak'kar listened intently.  The description of the Nobles and their attack fit almost exactly with accounts of Grue invasion, and Ak'kar could not hide his anger as his skin rippled from pale blue to deep red, then black, and then finally back to pale blue as he reigned in his passions.  When the alien had finished Ak'kar let out a sigh.

 

"I understand completely.  You will be safe, as will any others hoping for passage when I return to Tethron.  I will ferry as many as needed to safer systems."  Ak'kar stood, bowing to his guests.  "I regret I must leave you, a captain's duties spare me little time."

 

Ak'kar left the captain's mess and headed to the bridge to look out over the stars and take command of his ship.  He promised to himself that these people would find the safe havens they deserved, the kind his people never got.

 

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GM

 

Time passed without any further interruptions. Everything went according to plan, and a few hours after the dinner was finished, the Leviathan took off, towards the location Ak’kar had determined, with a load of refugees, trade goods filling up what space remained.

 

There wasn’t much happening for a while, it seemed like it would be a journey like any other, just with a more living cargo. It wasn’t too long of a journey, taking a few days. It was in the earliest hours of the fourth day, the destination was perhaps one day away, that Ak’kar was awoken by an alarm going off in his quarters, calling him to the bridge immediately. Which meant that something was seriously wrong.

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Ak'kar was up like a lightning bolt and was on the bridge within 3 minutes.  His crew was dutiful, through the halls he saw them bustling to stations, making general emergency plans and readying the ship for battle or whatever other incident might be forthcoming.  He was often proud of his crew, but never more so than when in a crisis.  They were good officers, good men and women and anything else they were.  He didn't try to hide the flash of yellow his skin turned at the pride he felt in his crew.  He knew they all knew what his different shades meant by now, and it was good for them to know his pleasure in their competence.

 

Ak'kar moved into the bridge and addressed Mr. Skree.  "Status report, Mr. Skree."

Edited by EviscerusNox

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Fortunately, there was more than one way of getting to the bridge. The one for Ak’kar and most of the crew, and one from the rest of the ship. It was pretty clear to figure out what was happening once the captain stepped through the door.

 

The other door was shut, with multiple crewmembers in cover and ready to open fire at it, two on each side of the door and some taking cover behind various objects on the bridge.

 

Mr. Skree and some other command staff were in the middle of the bridge, organizing things. Most of them seemed to be rather tired, probably similarly ripped out of their sleep, as more crew began pouring in, with the sound of gunfire now coming from all directions.

 

“Captain! We had a group of refugees attempt to gain access, first through talking then through force. We managed to drive them back far enough that we could form up here, but we don’t know about the situation on the rest of the ship. They should be through the door, we managed to injure some of them but took some minor ones of our own. “

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