[Gemini Sector RPG] Doctor Ulannajirak's Exploration

This story is based on the RP logs of Gemini Sector RPG.

Given this, the structure of this story may not be as tight as a specially written fanfiction novel, and there may be some characteristics from an RPG in wording.

Thanks to GMs and all the players of this RPG! Together we made this story possible.

I hope the rating of this novel could be PG.

Now, let us get started...
 
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PROLOGUE

Looking at the booster load value on the indicator that was already slowly approaching overload, he whispered a prayer, his voice trembling.

Fortunately, the global system frequency boost as a test function could still be enabled, otherwise the shuttle he was on should have been caught up by the pursuers long ago.

However, this did not help much to unlock the system. The manual controls and communication systems were all locked and uncontrollable, while the system's preset navigation target was the renowned enemy ship - well, this time it could be the only possibility, or say, the only hope.

The unlock program on the portable terminal continued to run, but how long it would take to succeed was unknown. The two bright spots on the radar, symbolizing the pursuers, were slowly approaching.

The pursuers should be sending a warning, forcing him to stop immediately or he would be treated as an attack target. No, maybe they had already finished warning and were in hunting mode, just waiting to get into range.

"Already met the limit? " he let out a bitter laugh. How should he explain to the ancestors? He himself was just unknowingly framed as a rebel, without even a chance to explain?

"This war, it's really ridiculous."

Suddenly, several bright spots appeared on the radar - he immediately realized that this was an ambush by that enemy ship. A combat here.

There was no doubt that he himself, who was in communication silence, would definitely be the target of the attack, by both sides.

The unlocking attempt was still in progress.

A low growl came out of his throat.

"Gods, if I'm right, please get me out of this! "

A fighter lunched a missile, and at the same time, the terminal finally showed the indication of successful unlocking.

He lost consciousness in the shock. He didn't even hear his distress signal broadcast out by the communication system [1].

"Because this era, has not given us an answer."


[1] A tribute to the last line of Heart of the Tiger, Chapter XXX.
 
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CHAPTER 1

The battle is over. The remaining Imperial fighters retreated, leaving that strange Naktarg alone here.

The Naktarg powers down it's engines... The armor is buckling at the exhaust, this was driven way faster than it should.

<< Run like the goddamned cowards you are! >> Silence radios, clearly agitated and tempted to break off and continue firing. It's been ages since he got a kill. But he stays in formation.

Karen tightbeams, <<Not that I'm advocating more death... but there's still this ship here... that would see the location of our base... Shouldn't we like... do something about it?>>

<<I don't suppose anyone's interested at all in whatever the deal with that cat that's powering down?>> Tsunami remarks before she starts to make a call to the Majestic.

Glancing briefly at the damaged Sabre while the others handle comms, Silence pulls up behind the Kilrathi craft and holds near its engines, ready to start firing if he needs to.

<<Kilrathi craft. Report your designation and intentions.>> Iceblade radios.

Cyric moves to intercept the strange unidentified object, ready to kill it from the edge of effective combat range if it so much as fires a warning shot in their direction.

Suddenly, all the pilots receives the broadcast from the Naktarg via public channel.

"This craft requests protection! このエアシップは保護を要求しています! Ce vaisseau demande une protection! ¡Esta nave requiere protección! Dit schip heeft bescherming nodig! "

"エアシップ? Airship? We're not even in atmo..." Tsunami mutters to herself in bemusement.

<<That voice didn't sound too human to me.>> Karen tightbeams.

Iceblade passes over the craft, giving it a scan. He detects that the shuttle has a single laser cannon, it weight approximately 120 tons and flies worse than a jalthi.

<<Kilrathi vessel. Name>> Iceblade radios again.

Karen tightbeams Iceblade, << Should we radio the base and inform them of the situation? >>

<<Sure thing. Just don't let Karen handle negotiations if any are needed.>> Tsunami remarks with a snicker as she flys into position to help Ona's ship make it back without any more damage.

The ship repeats this distress call, seemingly on an automatic loop of the recording.

<< Seriously? >> Silence radios. << We're not blowin' it outta the sky? Could be a bunch of spies just waiting to send a tight beam back to their buddies as soon as they know where the Majestic is. >>

Iceblade replies on tightbeam to Karen, <<Probably a good idea.>>

<<At least one of us should escort Ona home ASAP so she can get some medical help!>> Cyric tightbeams to his squaddies. <<Majestic, Ona is severely injured and requires immediate medical help. >> Cyric tightbeams to the TCS Majestic.

<<TCS Majestic, reporting a potential defector situation at Ambush nav; Rho Flight out.>> Iceblade tight-beams back to the Majestic.

<<Please escort them to Nav 5. We shall have them dock with the TCS Baden Powell.>> The majestic comm officer on duty replies. Obvious chatter in the background.

<<Roger that, Majestic.>> Iceblade responds. Iceblade tightbeams Tsunami. <<Tsunami; suggest you escort the Sabres back on a faster route, we will take this Kilrathi to Nav 5>>

<<Escort her home on an arcing path to not give away our position Lt Karde. Is she stable?>> The Majestic comm officer on duty replies to Talon.

<<Barely>> Clearoff says.

<<We'll be going as fast as these Sabre's can still manage, without giving anyone a straight line back home.>> Tsunami remarks to Ice with a snort, <<Alright ready when you guys are, Black Cats.>>

<<Rho flight, escort pattern around the Kilrathi craft.>> Iceblade orders.

<<Ona's condition is marginally stable but uncertain, Majestic. Her craft's primary systems are mostly undamaged but for the lucky hit on the cockpit.>> Cyric radios back. <<Tsunami will escort Ona back home. I will stay with Rho flight as ordered escorting the potential defector's craft.>> Cyric tightbeams to Majestic.

<< Copy that, >> Silence grumps.

<<Roger that...>> Ona says, <<My blood type is O positive>> Then she adjusts her autopilot.

<<Belay that, we will intercept that flight with the odysseus, it has a medbay and is 20 minutes closer Sigma.>> The Majestic comm officer corrects the course.

<<Kilrathi vessel, fly next to Rapiers.>> Once more, Iceblade attempts to communicate simply. But the Kilrathi craft still remains silence.

<<Copy that Majestic. Heading on the new course.>> Tsunami remarks to the Majestic's correction, then giving the order for her little group to hit the autopilots to get Ona to safety.

Meanwhile in the medbay, the Cag sends an urgent message: "All right, who wants a speed trip to a destroyer riding in the back of a stiletto?"

Iceblade moves alongside the Kilrathi ship and tries to get a data connection. The ship's systems seems as if it is waiting for this connection. Iceblade sets autopilot.

<<Ona, Tsunami, proceed ahead of us.>> Iceblade radios.

<<Unidentified Kilrathi craft, here are your coordinates. Do not deviate from the projected course or you will be fired upon.>> Cyric radios after sending the nav 5 coordinates to the strange Kilrahti ship nav computer.

The craft remains quiet, flying calmly in accordance with the transmitted data.
 
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tarsus

Commodore
Here's a pic of the Naktarg (Edit, it was low res compared to other ships since it was used in engine and downsampled to ~40x40 pixels)
naktarg.png
 
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CHAPTER 2

"My master, you sent for me?" the human teenager stood respectfully at the bottom of the stairs.

"Leonard, forget again? There's no need for all this red tape when we're the only ones around." He waved his paw, signaling the human teenager to come over. Then, unlocked the silver collar from the human cub's neck. "Come, talk to me."

"You know, I have a mission coming up in eight days, to the front line." He twirled the collar with one finger, "Although I will still be a doctor there, there may be more things to do. May not be back soon."

The human teenager was slightly surprised to hear this news and seemed to want to say something, but fell silent, then looked up very formally and said, "May the gods bless my master."

"I know that you like Nala. Before my departure, it is good that you are married. "

Hearing this, the human teenager's jaw dropped, then said with a red face, "Master, that, it's too early, we ...... we're only 17, that's too young for humans."

"How dare you! You've learned to disobey orders?" He roared with mane bristled. The human teen sat down in fear.

Then he laughed with delight, "Well, well, well, look at you wuss. "Think it's too soon, do you? Then... what's that ape word called? Engagement?"

The human teenager was at a loss for words.

"That's it. When I am not at home, be obedient, otherwise if father is not satisfied, he may sell you to another clan, and you may be eaten – oh, haha, just kidding, you are the lord bestowed on our hrai as non-sale goods, always."

He looked up at the clear sky in the distance, a colling breeze coming down from the hills.

"What does the future hold? "





"Where am I... now?" He wakes up.

He has no notion of where he is, but he can tell by the metallic shades that he is no longer in a kilrathi vessel.

He slightly extends his right claw and scratches on his left arm which was shaved off the hair. Although it is not heavy and does not actually hurt himself, it obviously makes a little pain.

"Yes, it pains. I’m awake now… I'm alive." He says silently to himself.

"It worked. So, am I on a human ship now?" He looks around. This room is so small and appears to be a cell.

"Ah, you have awakened, do you also follow the word of the lord? I am Brother Barabas." Suddenly, a voice coming from the side answers.

"..." He turns his head and looks in the direction of the voice.

He sees a solid steel wall.

"..." He keeps silent and waits for the voice to sound again.



"I was carrying out the will of the god of man when I thought my journey beyond was about to being, but my hand was cowardly, and I ejected. I believe this prison is my penitence for having faltered in my faith." The trembling but bombastic voice chants.



"And you, it sounds like you were breathing the void... Your voice is so deep and amelodic... Have you prayed?" The voice continues.



"..." He is still silent, wondering if this is a pre-recorded voice clip.



"I see, I shall pray. May I have your name so I may pray for your salvation from this wretched technology?" The voice inquires, still fluttery with a singsong tone.



"Is this an interrogation? If so, please go on." He speaks in Terran language with some accents. Although with a little growl, it is less pronounced accent than the average Kilrah English.



"An interrogation? My brother, it is never my place to judge. But to execute the god of man's judgement." That voice booms the last part, and he can hear a yearning for pride in that call to action. "Alas, I cannot see you, but I assume that you two have been captured by these degenerates."



Oh, it's not a recording, at least it's an AI. He thinks.



"My brother, your voice is very hoarse, almost beastly, have you been unfortunate in your pursuits and spent time in the cold void?" The voice asks.



"..." What are they doing? He is a little confused. This isn't quite like the harsh interrogations one would expect, even though he knows that human interrogations are different compared to the Empire's. From the information obtained by the clan, it appears that here in the Terran Confederation, at least in principle, each captive is treated mostly as the Empire treats its own internal high-ranking nobles - starting with the spiritual aspect, rather than the direct use of torture.



Suddenly he hears the voice becomes impatient. "Heathens, you shall not sway my righteous path with tawdry offerings!" And the sound of metal flying and hitting a force-field. Another voice replies... "Yeah yeah, gotcha... it's lunch time... you have... a ham sandwich." He hears a sound of force-field deactivate, and the sound of reactivate soon.



Then a human followed by two large guards appears outside this cell.



"As for you... looks like the staff want to get on your good side, here's your meal" The man slides a metal tray at the bottom of your cell. The two guards have mass driver shotguns pointed at him.



He hears the forcefield repolarize.



He is a little surprised for a moment. This is the first time he sees with his own eyes human-beings who are not under control. And, on the contrary, this time, he himself is a captive.



He sees a moderately thick gauge tray. In it, there is a sort of porridge, it is bright red with buoyant white gelatinous cubes in it, as well as a distinct aroma of rotten plant matter as well as pungent seeds. Green rings adorn the top. On its side is a plastic glass with a greenish steaming liquid that smells as though it has been boiling more leaves. A white bowl of grain is left to the side.



"This is food? for me?" He cautiously sniffs the food on the plate. The feeling of hunger returns to him. Indeed, it has been more than eight hours since the last meal.



It smells unappetizing... he can smell the fat which is attractive, but the liquid smells of plant matter and the bowl of food gives off a strong iodine and rotten smell as well as some heat. Upon closer inspection, he can see minute chunks of greyish meat.



The amount of saltiness in the meal is way too high for him.



He also sees a strange tool was given to him, it is made of a plastic, and has a short thin shaft ending in a concave surface adorned with dull teeth at the end.



He recalls the human meals that Nala's parents cooked when he was at home. Those were made from ingredients prepared by the human slaves themselves, includes plenty of plant ingredients. He had tasted it himself, and although it didn't fit, it obviously looked a lot more decent than what is in front of him now. He tastes some of it, just a little. Yes, it is edible.



The tool looks like something called "spoon" uses by Nala's parents. But the one in front of him is not made from metal.



He recalled the way Nala using a spoon, and then he smiles dumbly, starts eating the semi-liquid food with his rough tongue. At the same time, he begins to think about what he just heard.



"This food has been befouled by the taint of technology, oh how I long for the soy and algea farms back home! My brother, I've never seen the guards protecting the server... even when I hurled feces at him... I have not heard as much as a peep out of you. Are you a pirate of Notoriety? Perhaps Redbrandt Rory?" The voice sounds once more. It seems that the man tries again to strike up a conversation.

To be honest, he is more or less expecting this voice to appear again. He raises his pitch, making his voice as close to human's as possible, and then responds: "Hello, man, I just got picked up by them." He does his best to recall the way Nala's father speaks. "You know, I... I'm having a little trouble with my ship's navigation system being tampered with by some bastards."



"Ah, well my brother, I was trained for this situation. All you need to do is answer their questions by ‘I need legal council’ or ‘I do not recollect’, I am glad to hear your voice returning to a natural timbre." The man named Barabas replies with enthusiasm.



"Alas, they might want me to be hunt, so that these cops just got trophy hunting, and the gang could live comfortably for a few days." He tries his best to recall some of the human holomovies about privateers.



"Hunt? how poetic. Well, my brother, if you are released before I… before I experience my release, I hope you can tell my colleagues of my fate. For now, I need to pray." Barabas answers. You can hear him eating his sandwich loudly, with audible 'nom's of satisfaction.



"Anyway, thanks, man." He replies.



After the strange Terran meal, he falls into a deep meditation, since he would like to think about what happened in the past eight hours.



But soon, fatigue makes him quickly fall into a deep sleep.
 
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CHAPTER 3

The medical plots designed in this chapter of this story are fictional. Please do NOT link it to real life!


He is roused out of his meditative trance by a rythmic pounding sound. It is very deep, and he hears a lot of power behind every "thump".

He sees the lights have shifted in hue, everything looks a little brighter and sharper. The color is more in the red end of the spectrum, instead of the dull blues seen typically in a human environment.

"What is up?" He wonders. "Is it time to start the interrogation?" It doesn't really matter, as a doctor himself, he doesn't really know anything critical. Of course, those bastards probably put some fake classified information in the shuttle to make him looks more like an active rebel.

"Let me leave it up to fate."

Then he feels harsh shaking of your cell.

"What is happening?" No, that's not the interrogation, but a combat out there. "Did they find this Terran ship?" This is obviously a very bad situation. If this ship is attacked and then sunk by the Imperial fleet, there will be no last chance to clarify himself.

The lights flicker and the low pitched hum of the force field ceases. You see a white flash and nothing after. Except for the sound of a very heavy metal on metal 'clunk'.

He quickly forms a defensive posture to deal with the possible next impact.

However, at this time, he suddenly hears the voice from the human named Baabas.

"Liberation is at hand... I know it... my friend... I am scared. May you live a good life and I wish the light shines on your soul." Barabas's voice is much more meek and trembling, none of the bombast of yesterday. It sounds as if Barabas is hyperventilating.

"Goodbye... my friend..." He hears a sickly sound of meat hitting the ground.

He realizes that the human seems to have fallen. "Hey! Ba... Barabas? Are you OK? Protect your head and neck with your hands, crouch down quickly and stay away from angular objects!" The kilrathi roars, but in a human way. "What is wrong with you!" As a doctor, the kilrathi quickly realizes that the prisoner next door is in more serious trouble now.

However, there is no answer.

"Keep talking to me! Are you hurt? Don't sleep!" All of a sudden, he realizes that he is instructing as well as rescuing a human, a creature "not of the blood", just as he once did at home.

It would be nice to get close to him! He raps on the cell wall with his paws, "Anyone here? There's someone here who might get hurt and may be unconscious! Somebody!"

The only reply he gets is... silence.

This time, he regains his original voice and let out a loud roar. The halls tremble in fear... but... no answer. He starts to feel that he is on his own there.

"I just can't get out of the cell!" He tries again to call out to the human in the next cell, but there is still no answer.

Suddenly, he notices that the field of the cell is going down, even weaker. "Is the main power system already down here?" He knows this means he has the possibility of leaving the cell. He also hears the deadbolt close on the main cell block, which means that there may not be anyone coming to rescue for a while.

He puts a tip of his claw to make a test. Yes, the forcefield was completely relieved just now. He carefully steps out of the cell.

Peek into his neighbor's cell, he sees a small human lying on the back. The man is convulsing and foam is coming out of the mouth. The smell is more "bitter" than expected.

He quickly comes to this human and calls to him. "Hey, come on! Can you hear me? Answer me in any way!" But the man did not respond.

He retracts his claws and placed his right paw carefully on the human's throat. Fortunately, the profusely sweating man's heart beat is still there. Although there is clearly a very high heart rate and some problems with the heart rhythm.

The heartbeat is fast and strong... at least two beats a second. The human's eyes are open and unfocussed with the pupils dilated.

He quickly takes a general look and initially determines that the man does not appear to have suffered a serious impact to his spine or cranium. For a kilrathi, it is also an instinct to judge whether a creature is injured. He adjusts the man's posture to prevent him from inhaling the vomit and suffocating. Luckily enough, the man's gurgling foam of stomach fluids mixed with saliva slowly drains the the side from the adjustments. The man can now breathe again.

He reaches out with one claw tip and stimulates vertically on the outside of the human's index finger. The human's eyes twitch and a groan escapes the lips while the hand retracts.

Then the he rips the human's clothing away with his claws. And he finds the human has severe bruising on his lower spine, as well as scars from a recent crude surgery there.

"What is the surgery this human just had on his back?" He is a little anxious, "Anyway, I need more information."

"Someone? Someone here needs medical help!" He roars outward.

Getting no response, he put the human down gently on the side, "I'll be right back in seconds." Then he rashes out of the cell and get to the corridor outside. He knows that there may be some first aid tools in the corridor. Luckily, he sees a big white box with a red + sign on it.

He knows the sign is the emblem of the human doctor clan. He comes to this stuff and finds a large box with pulleys. Well, it seems to be a first aid kit at least. He then pulls the stuff into the cell.

The kit is well equipped. He finds everything he needs, such as a scanner module. There is definitely a power button. "It is surely powered by battery, right?" He presses the power button.

A green face appears: "Hello, I am Nimueh, what is the medical emergency at hand?"

He is slightly surprised, and then recalls that there was something similar in a batch of human supplies that he has seen before. He was quite impressed by such things.

Yes, this kit could at least be a semi-intelligence assistance. That is so good!

"Monitor this patient's vital signs as well as making diagnostic tests!" He makes his command.

the scanner replies "The patient appears to be kilrathi, in good shape, approximately 20 years old, male... "

"Not me! You stupid ape machine!" A low growl of anger escaped his throat, "this human on the floor!" Then he pulled over the stupid box and pick out the modules as he remembered, to start the examination manually.

"Condition critical. Heartrate : 143. Blood pressure: 210/120mmHg. SpO2: 93%.... " The AI prattles on.

The result of the tests makes him nervous, especially very high blood pressure. He knows the Terran is in danger.

"The patient's condition is critical, please follow the prompts of this system to do emergency treatment." This stupid ape box finally says something reliable. But...

"Recommend administration of Beta Blockers to prevent an intracranial hemorrhage."

To prevent an intracranial hemorrhage, that's certainly reasonable. However, he vaguely recalls a human medical book he read before, which mentioned some treatment contraindications.

"This ape stuff is still unreliable." Then he uses a safer symptomatic treatment, quickly and precisely.

The support provided by the kit is pretty good. The human's blood pressure is lowered. And the portable scanners of this system work quite well, better compared to the one he used a few years ago.

He initially makes exclusion of intracranial hematoma, Stroke, Thyroid storm, Pheochromocytoma crisis, etc. for the man. In addition, the surgery on the man's lower back appears to be used to implant a type of spinal instrumentation.

However, the blood and urine test results given by the system raises his eyebrows.

"Analyzing anomaly... Indications are a lethally high dose of ultimate"

"Ultimate?" He reads out the strange Terran word on the screen. "What is this? Seems like I've heard of it somewhere. Yes, it seems to have been mentioned in the human privateer holomovies."

"Substance known to synergise with Beta Blockers to increase blood pressure. Analyzing trendlines..." The AI speaks with an absolutely calm tone.

"Projected blood concentration levels will double in 5 minutes."

He realized that his previous judgment was correct, however what now disturbed him is the description of the use of this substance in the holo movie plots.

Yes, that's a pretty dishonorable thing. So, this Barabas, is he a dishonorable Terran male?

He doesn't have time to explain to a stupid ape machine. He just despises the humans here for a moment, how could these soldiers allow a prisoner to bring something like that into the cell? Ridiculous.

Common sense dictates that, according to his knowledge of things that are not honorable, he would simply provide the proper support to stabilize Barabas's status and wait for someone on this ship to come. But the machine's alert just now makes him very nervous. "Projected blood concentration levels will double in 5 minutes."

It wouldn't make sense if the man had just simply used that dishonorable stuff, according to his memory.

He suddenly remembers the situation of a gang leader in a privateer movie - implanting a pump in his body so that he could evade most checks. Then he carefully Barabas' spinal area again. This time, he finally finds a pair of "bladders", one has ruptured.

Turns out, the expertly done surgery on the lumbar that installed spinal alignment hardware (Titanium screws) works a perfect disguise! A seemingly normal lumbar surgical implant is masking a subcutaneous problem! Yes, the swelling of the incision makes the occupation effect of the dishonorable implant less obvious. And the spinal hardware attracts most of people's attention. That's why it was not discovered by the humans on this ship.

"That must be the answer!" He growls. "Brother Barabas? Brother? Huh, you bastard!"

Then he hesitated. He knows that if he does not remove this dishonorable stuff, the fate of the Barabas would soon be... But...

In addition to the risks of the medical treatment itself, what would the humans on this ship think of him? Would there be any misunderstanding? After all, he knows he himself is just another prisoner here.

What is more...

And, is it really worth the risk to save such an dishonorable human being?

Yes, he's seen a lot of humans. There are some who still maintain a decent life even as slaves. But the man in front of him is like a villain out of a human holomovie, perhaps.

The projections of toxicity are increasing polynomially.

"... my brother..." Suddenly, he hears the man's voice. Barabas wakes up.

"My... my sight has left me, I fear I will not be here for long... please go... the power is out... you should esca..." Then, the man passes out again.

Hearing these words, he realizes something else.

This Barabas, is the first one he encountered after being framed and thus becoming a escapee.

So, could it be that he was also framed?

He remembers more of the human books he has read. In fact, what he said to Barabas yesterday, being betrayed by the gang so that the bastards can live a few days of peace, that's a plot from a human novel.

The world is complex. Many things are not as simple as they seem, and there is a wide middle ground between glory and dishonor.

In a flash, some words lit up his mind like a lightning bolt. It was told to him by that old master with pure white mane.

"Yes, grand master, this cub will follow your advice!" Then, he a deep breath, "Prepare to begin implant pump removal surgery."

He looks at the ape machine, "As I know, you accept voice control, Ni... What's your name again?"

"As estimated, the patient has four minutes fifty-four seconds until 50 percent probability of intracranial hemorrhaging starts." The AI has a female authoritative voice.

"Now let's get started. Start your Lumbar Surgery mode." He puts on a pair of surgical eye-wears. He doesn't want to be contaminated by that dishonorable substance.

"Ape's nose... is too narrow!" Luckily, the eye-wares are useable.

"Prepping disinfection." Nimueh states, as it designates and disinfects the area. The patient's back looks cleaned.

"Ni... you do the anesthesia, I am only responsible for surgical position, tracheal intubation, etc." He doesn't look back and starts making his own preparations.

"A suitable 9 mm hose is available in the first aid kit as well as a respirator and 12 minutes of O2" Nimueh informs. "Administering anesthetic on your mark. A pair of syringes jut out from the leg. A milky white liquid is in one."

"This patient needs general anesthetic." He growls as he performs tracheal intubation, then finishes it quickly, among other things. "Your turn, machine. Keep me informed on his vitals."

Looking at the exposed area in the operating field, he realizes that even the muscles of a "strong" human are actually weak compared to an average kitathi's, not to mention the skinny guy named Barabas'.

Then he has his already shaved paws, forearms and elbows disinfected, and covered with high elasticity aseptic layer. Not sure how the material of this Terran membrane is. I have to be careful not to extend the claws to prevent poking through. He finishes the final preparation.




A marine comes to the door of the cell area and tries to activate the door. <<Engineering Control. This Sgt Wilson! Prisoner cell area is still closed but all feeds in the room are out.>> The marine radios.

<<Wilson, we're currently under attack, we will get to it when the emerg is over, until then, man sector 12, commander is setting up a choke point there.>> Engineering radios back. Ensign Smith does take note and increases patrols by that corridor though, nothing is getting out of the cell block, then smirks.

<<Roger Control, diverting to sector 12.>> Sgt. Wilson radios back. He takes only final look at the door, sighs knowing a Kilrathi is lurking behind the door, and leaves the area.




"I have to be very careful, and minimize the amount of operative hemorrhage." He asks the AI system without turning back his head, "I don't think you have enough prepared blood here, do you?"

"Negative, we can put in a request from medbay, accessing wireless network..." Nimueh replies.

After cutting through the skin and superficial fascia, the mysterious object is finally exposed to his naked eyes.

There is a pair of vesicles with three chalasae binding them together. They look strangely like... sausages. one white, one black. The white one looks like it is lightly ruptured. White powder is visible on the inside.

"These are..." He has never seen such a stuff before. "Ni... Nimueh, can you identify the model of this stuff? I'm not familiar with your human things." He finally recalls the AI's name.

"These appear to be implants, one contains a kind of substance called Ultimate. The second contains hepta-fluoro-astatine. If the two substances were to come in contact, an exothermic reaction of 12 kj per 20 mg would occur. Estimating explosive yield at .003 ESK." Nimueh answers matter of factly.

"Exothermic? Explosive? What are you talking about?" Then he suddenly realizes what the situation is. He breaks out in a cold sweat.

"I see..." His mane bristles, "Is there anything wrong with me just removing this broken thing off?"

"It is not attached to the body, excision difficulty rating evaluated at trivial." Nimueh replies in the standard dead-inside voice AIs tend to have.

"Okay, I'll trust you for once." The kilrathi discreetly begins to remove the "broken balloon".




<<Holy sh*tballs! The kilrathi got out of it's cell and is killing the retro! RED ALERT, Sgt Wilson, take Frenchie and Aislin, get in there and stop the kat!>> Smith radios. He just restored the visual feed from the cell block.

Sgt. Wilson and Aislin arrives with an explosive charge outside of the door. "W-wilson... you think my riffle can stop a raging cat... I.. I've never seen... " Frenchie asks.

"You! Get that rifle up and stand back there a ways." Wilson says the other marine.

Aislin drops to a knee, aiming his riffle at the door, a safe distance away.

"And don't point it at me!" Wilson adds.

Aislin, in a cooly laughs at the joke, having mastered firearm control, Frenchie is too twitchy, the line flew over his head.




Lucikily, the removal goes well. As his paw slips in, the light force of removing the broken bladder causes the three membranes to snap and the second bladder is now free. His paws covered by membrane stains some blood with the offending part in them. He begins flushing the incision area. This way at least no dishonorable substances will continue to enter Barabas' body.

"I don't think I need to touch that implant instrument, it's more than what's needed at this point." the Kilrathi says to the machine, "Nimueh, patient's vital?"

"Viable but dropping, estimating 10 minutes until transfusion is required."

"Give the patient blood substitute, maintain the perfusion volume." He orders.




Wilson sets the device and backs up, with rifle at the ready.

Three...two... ONE!!!




He is very focused on the operation, his paws remain stable and he did not drop the bladder, the explosion did however rock the entire area. Nimueh fell to the side.

"I... I see 'im sarge!" Frenchie squeels.

Wilson races in first. He immediately checks the situation. Wilson points his gun at the Kilrathi and yells "CAT, GET YOUR PAWS ON THE GROUND AND GET AWAY FROM THAT MAN!"

"SHIT!" Wilson says as he spies the kind of injuries the human has.

"Oh my god! What is it doing to him! You'll pay for this." Frenchie yells, and fires a warning shot that hits Nimueh.

"This Terran male was suffering from Ultimate overdose due to an implanted pump rupture. I have got the pump removed, medical support is needed now." He turns his head back, and of course, freezes.

Wilson responds to the cat, "Just keep yourself there...HOLD YOUR FIRE" Wilson turns to Frenchie.

The marines see a kilrathi covered in blood, hairless paws drenched red. The area looks worse than it is... a large pool of blood is on the floor, but it is mostly saline from the flushing.

"Y... yes sir." Frenchie says... gun trembling.

He smiles slightly, "I knew this would happen", then he said, "What do I do now? It's against the rules of surgery to put my claws up back my head."

Wilson shoulders his firearm and heads over to the guy.

Aislin chimes in. "Calling medbay, we can get him in stasis with our droids and bring him over there."

"Do it!" Wilson orders.

"Attention medbay, we have an emergency, we need a medbot, lots of blood and a surgeon in cell E as in echo. A kilrathi is... performing surgery, and his assistant bot was damaged in the altercation" Aislin radios.

"I hope your medical team moves faster, and that your ape machine is sturdy enough." He takes a glance at the machine. "Good job, Nimueh."

"Frenchie, out into the cooridor and wait for a doctor or medic to arrive." Wilson orders. "You, what do you know of human medicine," Wilson then asks the Kilrathi.

"As to why there was a chemical 'reactor' in this patient's body, I don't know, that's your business." He then falls silent.

"I don't care about what was in him, can you stablise him and keep him from bleeding out!?!" Wilson says hurriedly.

"I will try." He begins to do the processing quickly and precisely.

"Do it" Wilson stands up and gives the Kilrathi and patient a few meters of room. The marine's hands are on his rifle, fingers near the trigger. The marine should be able to turn the gun toward him within one second and fire.

Luckily it is a surgery in the lumbar region and there is not a lot of hemorrhage. Otherwise, him thinks, perhaps Barabas would have gone to meet his ancestors.

Wilson is confident that he could fight off this particular Kilrathi in hand-to-hand if needed.

"Almost done. By the way, prepare me some Xark... Forget it, sugary milk will do." After the high tension is lifted, he feels some physical strain.

"MILK!?!?" Wilson asks incredulous.

"So, then I go... I sees the kilrathi right... and I was like... preparing suppressive fire... but the ai bot... it... it was an assistant to the kilrathi... I... I saved Wilson from it... " Frenchie is muttering to himself while pacing in the corridor.

"All the work I can do has been done, the following thing is yours. Give him advanced anti-infection, or we'll have to see something terrible in the next few days." He steps back, and takes a deep breath, again.

"In here!" Wilson yells out with attention on him. "Don't mind him, he's helping not hurting the patient..." Wilson then mutter, "apparently."

Dr. Meiko makes it to the holding cell at least 30 seconds before the rest of the team, hardly breathing hard at all, while the rest of the team is panting fairly heavily as they try to keep up with the doctor. "What's going on here." She asks as she looks in, and then adds, "And what'd the Med AI do to get shot?" in her usual snarky manner.

"Twitchie finger Frenchie fired a warning shot and missed the wall." Wilson grumbles.

"It went rogue, it was helping the Kilrathi! I saved you all." Frenchie cackles.

"Stay in the corridor Frenchie... and out of the way." Wilson adds.

"Aye sir! I'll- I'll make sure no other AI turns rogue!" Frenchie stammers.

The rest of the team arrive. The red alert light go off. The attack is over.

"Someone, either needs a break or a mental evaluation." Meiko mutters to herself, as the Kilrathi backs away from the Retro, and she's able to look over the damage for herself. When the rest of the team shows up, she says, "Right, get him on a stretcher and to medbay. We'll need to make sure he doesn't get any infections from this. And to fix whatever other damage he might've done to himself."

Frenchie says something else nonsensical.

"Okay, Cat, back up a bit." Wilson says.

He smiles slightly and steps back to a range that is safe for humans.

The room gets a bit more dull in hue for him, as the lights shift towards the blueish tint.

As Meiko starts to follow after the team taking the Retro to Medbay, she adds to the medic who's just scanned the kilrathi, "Oh, smack that guy around a bit, and try to straighten him up to, before you head back." What a bad day for that medic, having to get close to an unknown cat, and now being told possibly seriously to hit a Marine.

Wilson goes over to whisper into Meiko's ear, "See to it that Frenchie gets a psych evaluation."

Meiko gives a nod at Wilson's whisper, seeming to take that at least more seriously than the suggestion on just punching Frenchie.

Once the retro is gone, Wilson looks at the Kilrathi. "What is your name, cat?"

"Name..." He hesitates.

"Yeah, what other Kilrathi call you. Or would you prefer to be called cat for the duration of your stay with us?" Wilson clarifies, rolling his eyes.

"My name is Ulannajirak..." He does not say his clan's honorific, thinking it best not to do so as a captive. He closed his eyes, prayed silently.

Grand Master, now this cub knows you are right. Yes, sometimes understanding, or even saving your enemy, might save each other.
 
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CHAPTER 4

Ulannajirak glances at the muttering pirate or bounty hunter in another cell. This guy is much less of a pleasant conversation than Barabas. Every 5 or 10 minutes, Ulannajirak hears the guy chargng at the invisible wall and land firmly on his backside. Anyway, the protests are muffled by the forcefield.

Ulannajirak smiles and turns head away, closing his eyes to think about his own business.

He has spent a long day in this new cell. It has been a few hours since a guard came to check on him... even though he doesn't have any means of telling time, it seems longer than usual.

I hope I don't have to operate on this new neighbor. Ulannajirak thought silently. He thinks back to the operation he had performed on the male human named Barabas yesterday. Yes, there were certain problems, but that was close to the optimal solution in that situation. He was escorted to this new cell after the incident, then received sugar milk for a quick energy boost and a very nice meat meal. He remembers very clearly the surprised face of the human soldier named Wilson when he bowed as appreciation.

Ulannajirak knows he likes the feeling, pretty much.

He looks at his paws and arms which had been shaved off the fur. Yes, that barrier was tough enough so that his claws should not have been exposed and thus came into contact with the surgery field. I hope nothing is wrong with Barabas. Ulannajirak thought.

Then he hears the mechanical whir of the cell block door opening. Three security guards walk into the cell block. They are in full body armor, wearing red visors and all have mass driver scattershot and laser sidearms. They stand two meters apart and are holding their shotguns finger outside of the trigger.

The neighbor mutters obscenities at the guards and describes what he would do to their parents. Before rushing into the force field for what seems like the 20th time today.

The center guard has an over-sized pair of handcuffs. He nonchalantly tells Ulannajirak: “All right prisoner, face the wall and place both paws behind your back” Ulannajirak hears his voice is male and quite distorted through the helmet's modulator.

Ulannajirak slowly stands up and acts as ordered.

Both other guards take a kneeling stance towards you. It is not a question of reverence, but precaution. Ulannajirak hears the forcefield depolarize. Even without looking, he knows several lethal weapons aimed at him.

Ulannajirak knows that now he has to show as much obedience as possible, whether according to human or Kilrathi rules.

The metal cuffs feel loose, they were last used on a more sturdy warrior, with full fur. They will however keep Ulannajirak's claws in check.

"Up" the guard states, "Follow me." He passes between the guards as they keep a bead on the kilrathi.

Looks like an interrogation is coming. Ulannajirak doesn't know what he will face. But in any case, it should be better than being taken back to the Empire, he reassures himself.





They bring him down a corridor and turn past some barracks, several marines scowl at the prisoner and laugh amongst themselves. Finally, Ulannajirak arrives at a medium sized room with two guards at the door. There is a table inside. The room is well lit but surprisingly chilly,16 degrees C, perhaps.

The guard motions for Ulannajirak to enter the room. "Sit." He points at the chair away from the door.

In the moment of passing through the corridor just now, Ulannajirak seemed to smell something special. This makes him a little suspicious. But then he tells himself not to be distracted by other things right now.

Oh, humans really make interrogated prisoner sit down? It's true what they portray in their plays. Ulannajirak thinks. Then he sits down slowly.

The room is extremely well lit, shadows are harsh. The colors seem muted, the lights must be more on the blueish side of the spectrum. The guard hands salute the two at the door and leaves, there are now only four guards with mass drivers. Two facing Ulannajirak, with the weapons trained on the prisoner, two facing the door, keeping trouble out.

Ulannajirak lets his fur lay flat, and ears erect. This is a standard submissive posture for the Kilrathi. Also, he keeps his tail stay still and doesn't wag from side to side to show anxiety.

Then he hears a slow click click.

The sound is getting louder but the cadence is constant. A medium framed woman walks in, she walks with a certain swagger in her hips. She looks youthful and strong, she walks with intent. She sits in front of Ulannajirak and stares. She then brushes her auburn hair aside with her hand , thus in a split second, revealing a large trio of scars on her left side. Her hair falls back into a natural position, hiding the scars.

She says nothing and appears to be sizing the sitting kilrathi up and down.

Ulannajirak keeps his ears still and doesn't change the posture because of the willing to track the direction of the sound. When he sees the human, he also does his best to keep eyes natural, not showing confrontation by looking at the human.

"Good, you know our culture. if you look across the room, you will notice industrial forcefield emitters. These are not callibrated for human or kilrathi sensibilities, so know that there will be an impenetrable wall between you and me right now." She presses a button on her quine. Instantaneously Ulannajirak's manacles unlatch and fall to the ground. He smells ozone and other free ions from the field that polarized between him and her.

"I understand." Ulannajirak replies calmly.

She silently assesses his reaction and starts her delivery is stiff and memorized. "This interrogation has as a purpose to determine whether or not you are really defecting as you stated and where your loyalties lie. If I determine that you are indeed a spy, double agent or other liability, under martial law you shall be delivered to the civilian government of Nitir to do as they see fit." She tries to hide a sadistic smile at what the civilians would do without the code of ethics every officer pledges allegiance to. "If on the other hand, you aid us and are an asset, we shall grant you asylum and a path to confederate citizenry. Do you understand?" She leans forward, in an aggressive posture.

It looks like the previously recorded distress signal was successfully broadcast. Ulannajirak rejoices silently. On the way of escape, he used his portable terminal to record the voice request for protection in multiple human languages. He wasn't sure if his grammar was correct, and in fact there may have been some grammatical and wording mistakes. But there didn't seem to be any major problems.

"Yes, I understand." Ulannajirak replies.

She flashes her teeth with a grim smile. "Good, now let's start with some easy questions. What is your name and your caste?"

"My name is Ulannjirak." Ulannajirak still withholding his clan honorific. "Caste... I come from a hrai of doctor. However, anyway, I am an outcast now."

"Ulannajirak, Hrai Doctor, I see." She says her kilrathi accent sounding somewhat more teutonic. "You flew in using an jury rigged an atmospheric shuttle for spaceflight. And just happened to encounter a patrol, the odds of that are... minute." She looks very suspicious so far.

"Are you ordering me to give an statement?" Ulannajirak glances up slightly at the human.

"Would you care to elaborate how you found the engagement?" She clarifies.

"In fact, I have no idea about it. My ship's operating system was locked for some reason and almost everything was pretty much out of my control, all I knew is that the auto-navigation was aimed at the approximate area where... you are located." Ulannajirak replies. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that he was still able to activate the global frequency boost as a testing function, he would have been shot down by the pursuers halfway on the road.

She slams her fist on the table in anger at the response. "We are located? you knew our location? What would a Doctor be doing with military hardware and military secrets?"

"Just the general area." Ulannajirak answers calmly. But he knows it wasn't important. As long as the act of fleeing to the human ship appears to be established, then his identity as a fugitive would have been seated.

It's ridiculous isn't it? In order to survive and thus have a chance to clarify myself, I have to first really become an escapee. Ulannajirak thinks silently.

"As for what a doctor knows. I think you have my portable terminal, I hope you didn't break it." Ulannajirak continues, "But there is nothing in it that is of direct value to the military, and if you find anything else, all I can say is that it's none of my business, and I make no promises about their authenticity."

"Do you have any direct affiliation or link to the Kilrathi imperial army, navy or space force?" She continues.

"As for the affiliation", Ulannajirak smiled, "How should I start..." In a cultural sense, even doctors are still considered to be on the side of warriors. Whether it is for the battle-wounded who are considered not yet supposed to go to meet their ancestors, or for the injured who survive a duel, doctors are useful. But in his own case, the past few days have been like a troublesome nightmare, starting with his sudden assignment to the front line.

She leans back expecting a long philosophical diatribe meaning yes in her checkbox.

"All I can say is that I just came to this sector, you Terran call it Gemini Sector, right. It's only been about eight days."

"As per Baron's instructions, I just left my homeworld to come here and do some support work." Ulannajirak added.

"You know what Baron means, right? Our honored clan elder as well as my master. Of course, as I said, I'm an outcast now, so perhaps I'm not qualified to mention his honorable name anymore."

"You arrived with the invading forces then. Who is the Baron, consider that you have the choice of us returning you to the civilians or granting you refuge? Are you talking Kohl or Zheklan."

She groans. "You will throw your life away to protect the worthless name of the one you claim wants you dead. Pathetic."

Ulannajirak is upset to hear this, but he keeps his composure. He knows that making a prisoner's emotions fluctuate is a normal method of interrogation. "I was sent by Baron to assist a kil named Hajjnah." He tries to lead the topic to another direction.

"Hajjnah... name means nothing to me. Instead of performing your duty, you defected. I will need you to explain." She probes deeper.

"Ah..." Ulannajirak sighs , as if he is struggling the will to go on. "I disagreed with what he was about to do because such behavior would be bad for the honor of our clan. But he was hell bent on doing it. In accordance with the authority given to me by Baron, I decided to return to my homeworld, and then, something happened, as you see." Ulannajirak looks at the woman. "I am framed, I think."

"If I understand, this is an internal Kilrathi affair. You are persecuted by one or several clans now." She leans and stares him down some more.

"Thank you for your understanding." Ulannajirak raises his head, and shows his throat. For a Kilrathi, exposing throat to another one, indicates respect and trust[1]. "I have nowhere to go," He remembers what the white maned grand master had told him. Yes, once he reached this point, from his hrai to the entire clan, all of them would no longer be responsible for him.

"Are the clans after you in the following: Kiranka, Caxki, Kira, Qarg, Sikhtag, Kur'u'tak, Ragitagha or Sutaghi" She asks.

"With no offense to you, would you be interested in having me make a brief introduction to our noble clans?" Ulannajirak finds this human is actually not familiar with the eight clans, which could be a topic of conversation.

She stares blankly. "Do enlighten us on your clans if you will, I want to know if it's one of the big eight."

He cleared his throat slightly and spoke in a very respectful tone,

"We Kilrathi have Eights of eights clans, of which the most honored are the eight top noble clans. They are the eldest and most honored nar Ki'ra, followed by nar Qarg, nar Sutaghi, nar Ragitagha, nar Kurutak, nar Caxki, nar Sutaghi, and of course, the Imperial Royal clan, nar Kiranka, respectively."

As of the narrative order, Ulannajirak deliberately put the Kilrah Emperor's clan last, following the Sutaghi, who is considered to be the lowest of the eight noble clans.

"Of course, over the years of engagement, I believe you already know many of Clan's celebrities to a greater or lesser extent." Ulannajirak continues, "Some of them are still in active service and some have gone to meet their ancestors."

"As for the current situation, because of some things, as I think you all know, the warrior in power under his Majesty the Emperor recently is Crown Prince Thrakhath, grandson of his Majesty," as well as a dangerous, arrogant Kiranka, Ulannajirak thinks silently.

"Now if we could return to question at hand, and I will reformulate it. Are you being pursued by one of the major 8 houses, or is it a minor house?" She replies, unphased by the glowing exposition.

Ulannajiarak then realized that he has only been saying what he wants to say, and he apologizes, "I am sorry, I will answer your question now. Actually I am not sure, but I think... Hajjnah... knows all the answer. The identity of the pursuer does not matter; once they have been ordered, the pursuit is duty."

"I see, I assume we will not be going further on this line today" She says vexxed.

"Now our engineering team has put your terminal in quarantine, storage has been removed and the power supply as well as any other potential explosives are in isolation. If you wish to provide decryption keys, it would expedite that investigation." She starts a new subject.

"No problem. I will cooperate." Ulannajirak replies, "Maybe you can find the answer to the question in it. I'd also love to know which dishonorable Kil was framing me." No matter who they are, you are definitely one of them, Hajjnah. Ulannajirak thought silently.

"Now let's get to the pressing matter, not one day after your incarceration. We find you... forearms deep into the back of a cellmate." Finally the woman starts the topic on the incident yesterday.

"Oh," Ulannajirak sighs in relief, as if dropped a heavy load. "The man called Barabas? I was doing operation on him. It is a duty for a doctor. Mabe it is a bit strange to you."

"Yes, the retro inmate." However, the woman's voice is not as friendly as expected. "Eyewitness accounts from a sergeant Frenchie says that you were viciously mauling the prisoner after a struggle. However the security camera feed show that your assault was more slow and deliberate."

"How can we trust a monster such as yourself on this ship!" She gives Ulannajirak a dark look, knowing his life is weighing in on what is said next.

Sure enough, Ulannajirak smiles bitterly. Humans are still very biased. And of course he knows that after years of war, this prejudice is not at all surprising. "If I really wanted to, say, hurt him, how many seconds do you think it would take me to.... finish the damage?"

"No offense to you, but please look at my claws", Ulannajirak slowly raised his right paw, palm to the diagonal back outward, and slowly extended the claw, which were four five-centimeter level sharp objects that glinted in the light.

"I know your type. You never want a clean kill, you toy with your prey, for hours or even days. You went for the nerves you sick bastard... Trying to stimulate pain receptors? I've seen it before." She pulls up her hairline again deliberately exposing the three scars on the side of her skull above the ear. "Do you know what these are?"

This time, Ulannajirak sees the scars clearly. That's definitely scars of... claw marks. Ulannajirak now realizes what happened to this woman before. He knows he made a stupid mistake just now.

"To answer my question, about the scars, I am a liberated slave from Vega 4." she points at her scalp, "This cut was given to me when I was 14. I did nothing wrong. A guard suspected I was thinking of running. You kilrathi are evil and shall be exterminated by our hand."

Ulannajirak can see the rage seething from the woman. She wanted the cat sitting here dead, now she doesn't think that's enough.

Tormenting the prey? Boring Kiranka game... Ulannajirak thought to himself. "Barabas' nerves should not have been physically damaged, and I am confident that he is recovering now." Ulannajirak shows a confident expression, which is the first time in this interrogation.

"I find your statements be they true or false, insufficient to grant you asylum!” The woman is going to hand down that verdict.

However, her quine beeps fervently.

She looks outraged at her device for interrupting her rant. “What is this? A Nimueh unit has put a commendation in for you? How can it have up-linked to the main network and have a functioning terminal?"

In the following seconds, Ulannajirak sees the expression on woman's face changing dramatically.

"I... I suppose such a voucher would suffice for a conditional asylum. Just know that you’re on thin ice. This is a large ship, I hope I never see you again.” The woman slowly utters these words, revealing a full of disappointment and resignation.

She turns to the guards. “Take this prisoner out of my sight!” Then she gets up and leaves.

"Do I have the chance to know the current situation of Barabas? He is my patient and I am responsible for him." Ulannajirak looks at the back of the woman.

Ulannajirak just hears her kick the wall a few steps away... and a sniffle, maybe.

Receiving no response, he closed his eyes, luckily that now I would not be sent back to the Empire.

A guard answered. "We'll handle your paperwork place your claws back in the manacles and come with us."

"Yes, I see." Ulannajirak stands up.





The guards return Ulannajirak to his cell.

"Now that you have a conditional asylum, you may access green zones on the ship. A yeoman will handle your release. You are to be escorted during a probation period by an MP. And... er... congratulations on the asylum. Engineering will also contact you for decrypting your data." The guard leaves.

"Appreciated." Ulannajirak now thinks of the scar on the woman's head. Maybe you should thank the guard for his... kindness, although limited. Otherwise you won't even have a chance to form the scars.

But the thought of something else then comes to him. He shakes his head, and sighs.

Ulannajirak certainly wishes to get out of cell and look around at the environment here, but thinking of the woman's words just now, he decides to stay in the cell first. It is safe here, for me, and for you all.

But then, he recalls the smell, or say, odor in the corridor. What was that?


[1] Action Stations, Chapter Four
 
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CHAPTER 5

0900 Prison Block D, TCS Majestic.

Ulannajirak is sitting in his cell, a very unpleasant cacophony is being emitted from the neighboring cell. "And so he goes he says... I like the cut of your jib, and I go, good to hear cuz it's the only jib I got!" This has been going on for hours.

Ulannajirak is bored with it. However, he recalls what White maned grand master's words. "Yes, I will not be distracted by external things and have a mind like still water." Ulannajirak thinks. Then he tries his best to keep calm.

A guard comes to the cell block escorted by a very portly man that looks surprisingly light in his step.

"Bad is good baby! down with government!" The other prisoner greets the duo.

"Ulannajirak?" The yeoman has granted you a probationary tour of the majestic, as well as a couple possibilities to integrate you into the crew. " The guard states. "Senior Specialist Dallas Seelig will be showing you around."

These words still catch Ulannajirak's attention. Oh, this is the first time I have personally heard the slogan of human against their masters, well, maybe not masters, just... something else.

"Oh, sorry." Ulannajirak raises his head. "You mean I will be led to have a look at this place?" He asks.



"That is the idea, kilrathi... why someone volunteered to do it is beyond me." The guard stops hiding his contempt.

Senior Specialist Dallas Seelig... Ulannajirak keeps this this name in his mind.

"Kilrathi? I just, uh, I just uh, wanted to use, the uh, and so he says Evil's OK in by my book what about yours and I go Yeah Baby Yeah! Yeah! I just wanted to uh, wash my hands…" The cellmate answers, learning he is next to a mortal foe.

I'd rather choose Barabas as my neighbor, if I had the chance. But after all Ulannajirak knows that is not something he should ask for.

The door depolarises and you hear a battlecry. "AN OBJECT AT REST...CANNOT BE STOPPED!" as the cellmate runs at his cell door, not realizing Ulannajirak's was the one opened. He is greeted by 96 kilonewton/meters of resistance and falls on his butt.

The larger man unleashes a belly laugh. "I twerked the settings on that cell door, may have less bounce in it than standard issue."

As the forcefield goes down, the air in the cell is slowly changing... you smell what can be described as partially detonated explosive as well as onions and fermentation.

Ulannajirak's nose twitched slightly a few times, taking in the smells. He recalls the smell he got before the interrogation. But this time he doesn't find it.

He stands up slowly, and looks outside.

"Kilrathi, do you want to stay in this prison, or come along for the selection of duty process?" The guard asks.

"No hair off my butt either way." Seelig adds.

"What should I do now?" Ulannajirak asks, "Clawcuffs?"

"Ifin yer wanting... but in my experience, its easier to use an oaf." Seelig pulls up his quine. "I'll start by sayin' yer in a pocket of air, in space. Escape is not an option, and if ya did... you'd be flyin to death. I am unarmed, and yer main lifeline at this moment. Do you promise to behave?"

"I do. Appreciation from Ulannajirak for your trust." Ulannajirak makes a very formal bowing. A little different from the common Kilrahi bowing, he has this salute with both paws folded and hugged together.

"Will you keep a 2 maks (kilrathi unit of distance) from any other individual in the ship if possible?"

"At your service." Ulannajirak replys, "And, My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, Mister Seelig."

Seelig grunts at the reverence shown to him.

The trio walk out of the cell block. The guard is keeping a certain distance from Seelig and Ulannajirak.

"Ey, I was axed to keep my peepers on you for the next hour. Suffice it to say, I’m getting some r&r&r out of this equation, as well as meeting another kilrakhra. So... I understand that you were given the choicest decision to make, what to do with your time? The insecurity footage showed you are pretty nimble wit’ your digits, they could use some help in engineerding. Our techs could always use some more tor queue. And of course medbay could use a disorderly. Comon, let’s go see the jerbs." Seelig asks Ulannajirak. "First, let's see the enge bay?"

"Yes, sir..." Ulannajirak suddenly notices a word from those unintelligible statement, a kilrahra!?

He wants to ask, but after thinking about it, he doesn't say anything.

"As your arrangement, Mister." Ulannajirak replies politely.

They go down the corridor, to the left, and up a lift. They arrive at a room where many officers are working. The office is wide open and the people look to be less muscular than the typical officer. They all have their eyes glued to their monitors and do not notice Seelig enter with the following guests.

A particularly skinny balding man with a curved back, pencil line moustache and very little muscle tone doesn't turn away from his monitor. "Go away flunky, we can all smell you."

Seelig answers in a meek tone but an impish grin "I came with a prospective refugee intern, any of you wish to show him the engineering marvels you concoct?"

This reminds Ulannajirak of his previous experience when White maned Grand Master took him to see Ki'ra's advanced R&D factory. Those humans wear silver collars.

Although Ulannajirak has seen the working conditions of human beings in a free state from the holovids data, today is the first time he has seen this kind of scene with his own eyes.

"Fiiiiiine... welcome to the engineering deck of the TCS Majestic, please ingore our underling who brought youHOLYCRAPITSAKILRATHI!!!!" the engineer says finally bothering to turn his head and look at the team.

Seelig can't hold in his laughter.

"That alone was worth the volunteering fer the jerb." He casually slips back into his dialect.

"'Ere you would be doing the 'old jazz hands routine at the confusers to project jump trajectories, avoiding hyperspace bum holes and repolarizing shields... iffin that's yer thing." he continues.

"..." Ulannajirak regrets that he did not carefully learn the human language courses to the advanced level. He had been thought that it was OK as long as he could communicate with each other, or say, his slaves.

The tour continues, it goes on to the flight deck.

"'Ere's the flight deck, ya see the nak'targ o'er dere?" he points at your shuttle, partially dismantled.

Dismantled? Without authorization!? Ulannajirak is surprised, but he is aware that this is the normal situation, and he should never voice any objection on it.

Hope you put my shuttle to... good use. Ulannajirak sighs silently.

"The tin foil hat brigade took it a part. Always looking out for the next threat. I've been tasked with re-fabricobbling it back together in mostly one piece. Some assistance wit da cocktail napkin plans would help. Heck, maybe we can get you to fly it again, iffin that's yer cup-o-tea."

"Fly it?" Ulannajirak finally finds the topic. "Mister... Seelig, May a ask a question on this issue?"

"Best way to be dissapointed by an answer." he replies.

"I think you know what occupation I am, right? I am not a fighter pilot." Ulannajirak says carefully, "I am a doctor."

Seelig blinks blankly at Ulannajirak. "A doctor... so we could use some o' dat clawful precision in the microsolders. But ya may prefer the third work item yer offered then. Shall I put this offer in the faqit bucket."

"As I think you have seen in my shuttle, it is equipped with only the most basic defensive weapon." Ulannajirak continues, "So, I hope you are not expecting me to... fight... the other... Kilrathi..."

"Nobody would, I was tinkin' ye may wish to perform exterior inspections on the maje's outer casing. Make sure the greeble is still positively affixed in place." He replied.

"Eh... my pleasure... but could I know who is... Maje?" Ulannajirak is confused, "A Male or a Female? Age?"

"Da ship ye'r on. The tcs Majestic." He points at the flight deck where the name is emblazoned in bright yellow paint.

"Ship?" Ulannajirak realizes what the point is. "Oh, I see."

"Seeing as how ye'r a doctor, how about I show ya da last potential jerb. It's in the medbay." Seelig changes topics.

Ulannajirak realizes that It is time for the Patient rounds. Hope you are recovering well, Barabas.





Seelig escorts the refugee to the medbay.

The medical bay is surprisingly quiet. After entering the medbay, Ulannajirak is noticeably more confident.

A nurse is startled by the Kilrathi. "Ah, we've been expecting you. We need an orderly, and this could be a good integration point for you. We saw the security footage of your work."

Ulannajirak notice a few things here. Namely the lights are even more blue than usual. You suspect that there's some constant UV light disinfection going on. He also smell Seelig less. The air is at a lower (negative) pressure. Keeps bugs inside.

Ulannajirak bows again, this time to the nurse. "May I have a check at the nursing chart of the patient names Barabas, Madam?"

"Uh... you mean... Brett, right?" She asks.

"Brett?" Ulannajirak is confused, "I mean the patient... I operated on."

Seelig sees Ulannajirak's relaxed posture, he understands that the job was chosen. "I see yer picking this job. I'll wait here while you do yer rounds."

"Appreciated, Mister Seelig." Ulannajirak replies.

The nurse escorts Ulannajirak to a disinfection/de-dusting post which seems like a giant vacuum.

Ulannajirak then sees the same man he saw before, with better color, he looks hydrated and clean shaved. He is reading a book by Degrasse Tyson about the wonders of technology.

He is still hooked up to the sensors. His heartrate jumped from 55 to 110. He looks startled to see Ulannajirak.

"N-n-nurse.... this is against the prisoner of war accords... what are you doing?" He looks really panicked.

Ulannajirak is relieved to see Barabas is in a good status. But then he realized the point. He slowly crouches down.

"What is this??? why are you bringing that thing to kill me? what happened to do no harm?" He is very distraught.

Ulannajirak speaks in a raised octave tone he used at the time, "Don't be afraid, man. It's me, your neighbor, the guy who was framed by the bastards."

The man pauses and wonders, as if wondering whether the kilrathi swallowed the other prisoner whole?

The nurse interjects... "He.. " She looks at Ulannajirak to make sure she didn't misgender him. "He was your cell mate, he saved your life"

"Well, thanks so much for guiding me... Now they have released me from cell and have allowed me to live on this ship temporarily," because of the operation on you, perhaps, Ulannajirak thinks.

"Oh... you know me by my dead name then... Barabas died on that floor. I was told that the drugs were blasphemous, but they injected me with them without me knowing." Damnit I shoulda said unbeknownst. Brett replies. "You can call me Brett Finley, it was my name before I joined the church of man."

While listening to him, Ulannajirak looks at the nursing charts. He sees that the patient had spinal alignment done in New Detroit, then formed a habit of painkillers... until he moved to rynkel where he stopped alltogether. He is in decent shape for a human, not as strong as a confed officer, but he should be able to live to 120.

"Well, so you are also framed, right?" Ulannajirak looks at Brett kindly, "You had a pair of Chemical reactor sets in your body. It would have been a disaster if it was not removed in time." For you, and also for me as well as the others here.

"I was betrayed. Father Benengeli personally asked me to carry a mission out for him, giving me a most revered name in the process. I should have known by the fact that my medical screening required an anesthetic, but it happened so fast. They had my flying a Talon to stop fleeing civilians from spreading their evil technology. But I was stopped by a wing of sabres. I ejected, and then was captured and brought to prison. The last year was a wild ride... and now... I think I need to repay society." He answers... he looks fatigued by the emotional rollercoaster and bloodloss.

"Don't get agitated, what you need now is to rest and recuperate." Ulannajirak says, "Oh, sorry, I don’t think I have introduced myself yet. I’m Doctor Ulannajirak. Nice to meet you, Mr. Brett."

"I still can't believe I was saved by a... you. Why did you come here?" he replies with confusion.

Ulannajirak pauses for a moment, thinks about it, and then tried to start the conversation, "I think you know about the long years of war between the Empire and the Confederation..."

Brett nods.

"Yes, the long years of war have left both the races with deep animosity towards each other. However, even if it seems weird and even absurd, not all of the two races meet with bloody conflict." Ulannajirak tries his best to make a statement that makes sense.

The nurse rolls her eyes behind Ulannajirak, she lost her sister to repleetah.

"Like the rebels of Ghorah Khar, or... " Ulannajirak also recalls the group of "M", but he stops here. "Well, I am not saying I am one from Ghorah Khar, I am from another world. Any way, I am an outcast now. Also, anyway, for my hrai of Doctor, it is always my duty to save lives, no matter who, or what they are."

"That must make you... unpopular? back home" Brett asks.

"Well..." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly, "Certainly."

"Why help those that scorn you?" The man continues.

”I guess my items have been taken away from the pedigree in the hrai shrine.“ And there should be two Vacant seats in the pedigree in the shrine now. Ulannajirak sighs, but that should be the best, parents would not be responsible for his escapement.

Brett looks quizingly at Ulannajirak for that last statement.

"Sorry, some hrai... family issue. I mean, for us doctors, if there is no order to give up, we will always try to save lives. But for even more reason..." Ulannajirak recalls the words from White Maned Grand Master.

"Saving the... foe, may save both." Ulannajirak finally speaks out the words he heared before he left his home world.

"... Ah, well, I have nowhere else to go... when I get better, I will be serving my time." Brett answers, with his own issues. "Why? though... I should have died back there, and few dozen times before." Brett replies. "Well, I may have been ready before to take the final step... but I think I could make amends for previous transgressions." Brett continues. "For what it's worth... I am in your debt."

"My debt?" Ulannajirak smiles, "You don't owe me anything."

"I owe many people even if they don't think so... and I hope to have a chance to make amends." The man looks at the ceiling, as if he sees the galaxy.

This conversation touches Ulannajirak's thoughts. He suddenly realizes that he had many doubts about what the Empire means to the Kilrathi race, once more...

He has always heard the propaganda of the Empire that it would take only four more years to conquer humans, but now it is more than three eight years, The war seems to have no end, and the blood of the Kilrathi is constantly being consumed. Is it a debt to the race?

Then, what is human? As the propaganda of the empire says, foolish prey? Or just telling the truth, the completely equal opponents? Or even...

The nurse approaches. "Will you take on the role in medbay? You do sign... right?" The nurse offers Ulannajirak the signup sheet to be an orderly in medbay.

"Oh, sorry!" Ulannajirak is pulled back to reality from his contemplation.

"Of course I am honored to be take the role, as long as you... you feel safe." Ulannajirak looks at Seelig who is standing at the entrance of the room.

"Eh, as I said, I've escorted you here. The tin foil hat patrol's gotta worry about security." Seelig answers.





After signing, Ulannajirak is escorted back to his cell, he will work 6 hour shifts in the medbay.

”Appreciated, Mister Seelig.“ Ulannajirak bows to the human again.

Sitting in the cell, Ulannajiraka recalls what Brett said about being framed, and then he shakes his head, laughs dumbly. That's true. Humans are a lot more similar to us than it seems to be.
 
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CHAPTER 6

It‘s been a few hours since the last engagement. Several pilots have come to the medbay to check in on Ona.

Lt. Bradford enters the medbay and surveys the room.

Ona is looking fairly good, all things considered. Megan is with her, dressed in shorts and a tank top.

"Hi, guys," Ona says.

Kanani wanders in not much after Phillip enters the medbay, and says to Ona, "Hey there, how you feeling today?" looking over the room idly as she moves over to where Ona is.

Elsewhere in the Medbay, Meiko's lurking talking with one of the nurses as she does her rounds.

"Pain's largely gone", Ona replies, "Healing up nicely too."

"She's getting a pieing later," Clearoff adds.

Iceblade heads to Ona. "That's good, maybe you can be back in the quarterback seat again; nuking frigates for us."

Cyric comes into the medbay. "Hello, Ona! Clearoff, Kanani, Phillip! Good to see everyone in one piece after that battle. How are you feeling, Ona? Has the Doc been taking good care of you with some decent pain-killers?" Cyric asks.

"Decent painkillers, yep," Ona replied. "But limiting them so I don't get addicted."

Cyric looks off in the corner and does a double-take before casually turning the doc aside. ANOTHER CAT on the Confederation's only remaining Carrier in this system!?! Is the Brass trying to get us all killed in our sleep? "What is that Cat doing in the corner, doc?" Cyric whispers. "Are we running a pet shelter for lost Cats on this ship now? Does command still know there is an active war on against the Kilrathi Empire?"

"I was just about to ask about that." Phillip adds.

Ulannajirak is checking medical records in the corner. Seeing the pilot talking, he is a little nervous. Of course, he knows that's expected.

"Pretty sure that's the one we grabbed a couple days ago." Kanani remarks with a shake of her head.

"Isn't he a little short for a Kilrathi?" Phillip asks while taking a good look at this kilrathi with light red mane, who has shaved hair from his paws to his elbows.

"Considering I've only ever met a few of them in person, I couldn't say. Most of the ones I've talked to were sitting in cockpits." Kanani muses with a chuckle at Phillip's question.

"Don't know", Ona repllies. "I'd have to check our guides again."

Cyric sighs. So, it was true. "So, I guess Intel has put him in our medical bay around our wounded because of some classified purpose far above our pay-grades? Great. That's great. I've heard of keeping your enemy close but I doubt they meant near your jugular within easy claw reach." He adds in a whisper.

After thinking about it, Ulannajirak put down the tablet and carefully steps forward, then bows to the pilots.

"Hello", Ona said.

"Hello, what is your name?" Phillip asks in simple English.

"My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, warriors." Ulannajirak gives a very formal greeting.

"Hello, My Blood", Clearoff says.

"I am Ulannajirak, a doctor." Ulannajirak introduces himself, "and thank you so much for rescuing me."

Cyric looks at Clearoff as if she went crazy for a second - My Blood? - before turning back to the cat. "Hello, doctor. What brings you to our side of this interstellar war?" He asks with stoic casualness.

Ulannajirak sighs, "Simply put, I was framed."

Clearoff doesn't say anything, but remembers some of the names they used in Puritan England.

"You know much about Human anatomy Ully?" Phillip asks.

My Blood? Ully? It seems that humans like to simplify Kilrah words. Ulannajirak thinks, just like Ula, the way Nala calls me.

"Ah, I'll answer your question. Yes, I have studied human medicine in my homeworld." Ulannajirak answers the question from Phillip humbly.

"What were you framed for, who framed you, why were you framed, and how did that lead you to turn against your own people?" Cyric asks evenly with the same stoic calm.

Kanani just tilts her head slightly at the statements from the Kilrathi, listening quietly as the others shotgun out more questions.

Ona turns to listen to all this.

Turn against MY OWN people? Ulannajirak gives a bitter smile, then shakes his head. "Alas, I was framed as having defected to you with so-called secrets. My shuttle system was locked and targeted the approximate area where you all were at the time."

"Who framed me... I shouldn't tell my guess until I have a definite answer, it's a matter of reputation. I hope you understand." Ulannajirak bows again.

"So, you defected for real?" Clearoff asks.

Phillip listens and grows a little concerned and confused.

"I didn't have a choice at the time or I might have been shot down with a stigma that didn't belong to me. It's ironic, isn't it? Now I really become one of you." Ulannajirak pauses, then continues, "if you could accept me, just like you accept the people on Ghorah Khar..."

"That's not up to us, actually." Phillip comments simply.

Cyric listens quietly and almost reflexively nods his head at Phillip's comment. "As they say, acceptance such as it is must come from our superiors. We must abide by their commands in order to keep our honor intact. I am sure you understand, doctor." Cyric answers stoically.

"Well, provided you don't try to kill us." Ona says.

Hearing Ona saying this again, Ulannajirak replies very formally, "Please be assured of this, the doctors of my family cannot challenge others, nor do we accept challenges."

"Challenges?" Ona asks.

"Well, in other words, we do not do duel." Ulannajirak says.

"Well, I wasn't asking for a duel..." Ona asks.

"Unless you want a pie duel," Clearoff quips.

"We don't much anymore either... well except in the sims." Phillip says with a smile.

"I think that's where the Cat's fight it out for being the top cat." Kanani remarks to Ona, with a snicker, holding up her quine to show a picture of a pair of spotted kittens wrestling around. "Like that."

"I know you wasn't asking for a duel." Ulannajirak realizes that Ona may have misunderstood him.

Ona resists the urge to aww when she sees the picture of the kittens.

"Aww" Clearoff goes at the picture.

Hearing this, Ulannajirak is a bit eager to correct these human prejudices against Kilrathi culture. Even within the warrior class, dueling is not something that can be casually proposed. There is a complex system to prevent unreasonable over-the-top challenges. But is here the right place for me to explain it?

He must also admit that during recent years, the level of violence within the warrior class is higher than before, and some unnecessary conflicts occur from time to time.

He sometimes wondered if this was really what the Empire needed. Or... is this exactly what the court needs?

"No, no duels are necessary, doctor. We understand that your caste is other than the Warrior caste of your race and that you are not allowed to engage in honor duels of that sort. Thus, we welcome you to our carrier however as long as our superiors wish it and your behavior remains that of our honorable guest." Cyric answers the Cat's unspoken query.

"Yes, so don't try to kill us", Clearoff replies.

Phillip raises an eyebrow at Cyric's somewhat unexpected response. "So how come you know so much about humans?" Phillip asks.

Ulannajirak sees Clearoff kindly, "Please don't worry."

Cyric glances at Phillip and shrugs slightly with stoic resignation in response before awaiting the Cat's answer to Phillip's question. It was a fair one given the fact the only way he could come by such experience was only through prisoners or slaves taken by force for experimentation purposes. Biological warfare, perhaps?

Clearoff smiles.

"Well, now, while I may not be qualified to speak on behalf of my family or our clan anymore, as a statement of fact, I would still like to say that there are indeed some of us who are working hard to understand, or say, comprehend human civilization." Ulannajirak pauses, "You may think it is a dangerous thing for you, a preparation for conquest and enslavement. I do not completely deny the existence of such purposes, but at the same time, I would say that human civilization, at least, attracts a part of us, although perhaps this part is not much at the moment."

"That's nice", Clearoff replied. "You're not all trying to kill us, which I suppose is something."

"Okay??? So, what's are those?" Phillip asks.

"For a long time, we Kilrathi don't admire intellect, only brute strength and courage." Uannajirak repeats the words of the White Maned Grand Master. "Maybe there is something we need in human civilization."

"I think you are the first Kilrathi to openly admit that." Phillip says.

"Well, we haven't met many Kilrathi," Ona adds. "Not face to face."

"Perhaps in your eyes, we are all beasts with a bloodthirsty appetite, right?" Ulannajirak smiles bitterly and continues, "Well, now while that is true for you most of the time, I should say that we are also creatures with unique lives, and families, relatives, friends."

"Pity your leadership has been trying to snuff our unique lives out then," Clearoff comments.

Ulannajirak don't know how to answer this query for a moment. "Eh..."

He knows that not only some of the top nobles and warriors, but many commoners, and even pariahs, are looking forward to conquering humans and enslaving them like enslaving the races they had conquered before, to do with them as they pleased. However, there are some who are different, I know this fact exactly.

"It is what it is, that is not for us to answer here but on the battlefield where such answers are found. As I said before, we welcome you to our carrier for however as long as Command wishes it and your behavior warrants it. We give you the peace of the day." Cyric says with even more formality. "Good to see you doing better, Ona! Say, Doc; how much longer are you going to keep Ona around here?" Cyric asks with more friendliness in his tone.

Phillip adds, "Yeah, we are due some sim time soon."

"Well..." Although according to Kilrathi's prevailing values, a wounded warrior should return to combat sequences as soon as possible, Ulannajirak knows that Ona actually needs more rehabilitation.

"She's not yet cleared for full operations," the doc says.

"But she can do sims."

"The burns aren't quite fully healed."

"In terms of the will to fight, she should be able to pick up a weapon again even now, but ......" Ulannajirak hesitated, "she's actually not fit for actual combat right now, I suppose you all don't mind admitting that, do you?"

"No, don't mind admitting that," Ona replies.

"Great news! At least you won't be bored to death while waiting on the new skin to form and the old scars to heal, eh?" Cyric turns to Phillip and adds half-jokingly. "When do we get started simming around in Hornet II's, Wing Commander?"

Phillip's eyes widen, and he tells Cyric to hush with his eyes.

Ulannajirak is happy with Ona's response. His professional advice as a doctor is respected, unlike the past eight days in the imperial fleet, when the warriors of those other clans focused only on willpower and despised the facts.

"We are scheduled for the sims within the hour." Phillip comments.

"Sounds good."

"See you there, guys!" Cyric adds and nods in the direction of the Kilrathi doctor. "It was an honor to meet you, doctor. With any luck, we will meet again. In the meantime, I grant you the peace of the day." Cyric waves good bye at the gang, gives a salute to the Captain on the bed, turns around and marches off to get ready for the upcoming sim battle.

"Indeed, I will join you shortly," Ona says.

Ulannajirak bows again to requite.

Phillip nods. "I will be heading out, see you soon." Then the pilots walks out.

Looking at the back of this group of human pilot, Ulannajirak has to admit that for the first impression, he actually feels better here than he did before in the Imperial fleet.

Perhaps I could find the answer here, White Maned Grand Master. Ulannajirak secretly thinks, this cub will work hard, for the future of my family, for the clan, and even for the race.
 
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CHAPTER 7

The mess hall is full of new faces. This is the "green" zone, guests and declassified people only.

Guided, or say, under escort by the guard, Ulannajirak comes to one of the entrances here. There are audible gasps from some civilians in the area. Others don't seem to notice... He is greeted by some jazzy standards playing in the hall.

Ulannajirak can see many civilians that were rescued in the last few sorties.

"Excuse me, sir." Ulannajirak asks the guard, "Who are these people here? What is going on in the hall?"

The chef responds first, "Now ah was warned in advance 'bout another kilrathi being on board... but golly, look at ya." he continues, "These are some refugees that we're keeping safe while their ships are being patched up."

Ulannajirak notice that everyone even though they are minding their business are giving him a 3m berth.

"Refugees? I see..." Ulannajirak is careful to put himself in as inconspicuously as possible, avoiding direct light, and sits down.

There are a couple of people who don't flinch as you approach though, either by ignorance, bravado or curiosity.

Ulannajirak is still a bit nervous. After all, he rarely sees so many humans at the same time, alone. On is a diminutive female with longer hair. She looks shorter but stocky, as if she is used to high gravity training. She smells like an odd mix... Artificial strawberry sweetner and anxiety. Opposite her is a Terran male, who is chatting with the woman.

Ulannajirak makes himself appear as gentle and friendly as possible. He almost curls up. He glances at the human female, then leaves his eyes and looks down, avoiding looking directly at her for a long time, so as not to put pressure on her. He can hear the woman yammering on about something... it sounds like gossip about local celebrities or something indecipherable.

Also, he sees three empty glasses next to her with syruppy residues in them. Ulannajirak remembers the smell, it is close to something from Nala's father's stuff.

The man looks at the glasses, gets a whiff of the glasses, then turns to the lady, "I wonder if some of the folks here just had a Flaming Carlin..."

The lady turns around and sees Ulannajirak. She doesn't seem as put off as she should. She looks him up and down.

"Hi, guessing you're in the refugees? I didn't read about any kilrathi being rescued here... "
She then sees the guards behind Ulannajirak. "Ohhhhhhhhhhh"

Ulannajirak raises his head, "Hello, ma'am."

"Enforcer," she turns to the man, " I think you haven't met our latest refugee... I- I haven't yet either, but I was briefed... You can call me Julianna. What do you wish to be called?" She looks up at the kilrathi.

"Nice to meet you, Madam Julianna." Ulannajirak answers politely, "I am Ulannajirak, a doctor."

Julianna blinks... "You were flying that shuttle right? Those weren't doctor moves. Want to sit with us Ulannajira? I'm down between missions." She eyes the security guards behind him. Ulannajirak can tell she's not used to kilrathi words, and she's not mispronouncing on purpose.

Missions? Ulannajirak is surprised, "Excuse me, Madam Julianna. You say missions... You mean you are...?"

The man keeps a watchful eye, making sure that nobody causes undue trouble.

"I am a pilot... I've seen your kind before. Out there... they don't act as they do on the carrier. It's complicated." Julianna sighs. "But I was about to get another strawberry smoothie, Enforcer, want one." she is mindful to use his callsign in public, it's up to the man himself if he wants to reveal more.

Ulannajirak stands up, faces to Julianna, then formally bows, "My Blood Warms at the Sight of Thee, warrior."

Julianna purses her lips at the word. Then her smile returns to her fourth rate poker face. She gets up to get the drinks.

Julianna returns with three glasses filled with overly sweetened strawberry juice. Ulannajirak would estimate about 200g of sugar per glass.

Looks like everything is ok in the mess hall... for now.

Ulannajirak straightens up slightly, knowing that his height, though only medium for a Kilrathi male, is obviously too conspicuous here.

The man graciously takes his glass and waits until Julianna is ready. He then raises his glass in thanks and takes a sip. It is the first time he has had anything this sweet since childhood, and it brings back some fun memories.

"Eh... I ask your forgiveness for any disrespect I may have shown, but may I sit down as not to disturb others? " Ulannajirak speaks to Julianna with a formal and polite tone.

Julianna drinks half of it, and puts the glass next to her three empties. She turns to Ulannajirak and answers "Please!". She slides a chair out, making sure the back has a gap between the seat section, as if she was trained well in that aspect at least. The man looks around the room, seems to be in an attempt to see what food is being served at this hour.

"Thank you!" Ulannajirak carefully sits down on the chair, in order to avoid make any noise, then put his tail in the correct place.

Julianna narrows her eyes... she definitely noticed something... but can't process what it is yet.

Ulannajirak is tempted to ask Julianna if she is one of the members who rescued him at that time, but for a while he doesn't not know how to speak.

"Ulannajira, you came to us... anything shock you culturally yet?" Julianna asks first, sipping on the rest of her "smoothie".

"I should say, the commonly presence of women warriors like you is what makes me feel admired." Ulannajirak speaks with a formal tone. This is something he admires very much in humans. In the human fleet, the proportion of female warriors is quite high, and brave in combat.

Julianna puts an open palm on her heart area and replies 'aww'. It is clearly a rehearsed move. The man is so preoccupied with looking for a good cut of beef that he misses the nuance in Ulannajirak's voice.

Ulannajirak notices this move, but he just continues, "You may know that in Kilrathi traditional, females are not supposed to fight on the front lines."

"Of course, please allow me to say that in the cold weapon era, it was considered immoral to let women go into battle because our females' physical conditions were so different from those of males. Then this tradition has been last for eights of eight generations." Ulannajirak continues to avoid a possible insult.

"I heard they occupy more religious roles and administrative ones... except for one that has attacked us a few months ago... Bonechain. "
Julianna squints... She can't put her finger on it yet... "But you grew up on the same planet and environment... right?" The woman asks with a lost look in her eyes. Ulannajirak seems to feel a change in the aura emanating from this human female. It is subtle, but certainly present.

"Same planet? " Ulannajirak then gets the point, "In fact, like the Condederation, we Kilrathi now have a large number of colonized planets, or say, fiefdoms belonging to various clans. I am not sure where the female warrior you mentioned was born, but I guess she is not from my homeworld."

Julianna pauses. "I- I meant, you share the planet with females... women... so... they survived OK before on Kilrah" She probes. The waiter arrives at the table and drops a chipped beef sandwich in front of Steele. Looks like the finest meat to come out of a can. "This looks perfect! Thank you!" The man takes a bite of the sandwich while listening to the conversation. The food appears to have prevented the sugar rush, and subsequent crash.

"Kilrah..." Ulannajirak pauses a while, then continues, "Since Kilrah is the Emperor family's planet now, it's probably not appropriate for me to talk much about this world."

Yes, although Kilrah is the planet where the Kilrathi species and civilization were born, it has in fact belonged to the Emperor since the time of interstellar voyages eights of eights years ago, and other clans have been moved out one after another. Ulannajirak thinks silently.

"Your family is not that of the emperor?" Julianna's mouth remains slightly agape. "And .. and you're saying it as if they are unwelcome. I would assume it goes both ways..." She looks at Ulannajirak at the head.

Hearing this, Ulannajirak suddenly notices that he may have inadvertently revealed his true attitude towards the Emperor's family. But then he is relieved, it is the human's ship here after all.

"May i ask... how... how" she pauses trying to not cause a massive security breach "do you see this ending... the little I know, is that if the emperor says to go to war, the entire race leaps to action..."

"I should say, I have never been to Kilrah." Ulannajirak tries to switch the topic. "My father and grandparents have been there as doctors together with our Baron. But in my case, it is the first time I left my homeworld." Ulannajirak smiles bitterly, "and then... I have faced some troubles..."

"I- I don't see a viable solution forward unless more pe- kilrathi do what you did. Was your honor pushing you this way, or were you forced to leave?" The woman looks Ulannajirak straight in the eye. For an instant the 75 cm difference in height and over 100 kg difference disappeared.

Ulannajirak watches Julianna's eyes, "Madam Julianna, do you have the time to listen to me? Or, do you really trust me... at the moment?"

The security guard states: "All right Kilrathi, time to return to your room, we have too many people staring."

The woman pilot stares down the guard. She may look up the guard's manager.

"Got it," Ulannajirak sighs, and stands up, bows again to Julianna. "Thank you so much, madam."

"Ulannajira... stay safe... We'll meet again."

Ulannajirak says kindly, "I believe so, you have appreciation from Ulannajirak."

After Ulannajirak is escorted out, Julianna turns to the man. "Shoot, I was supposed to ask him about that professor."

"Is he supposed to be leaving soon? You should have a chance to speak with him again." The man repiles.




While walking back to his cell, Ulannajirak smells something else... something musky and feline.

He thinks back to the conversation he just had. The woman pilot named Julianna didn't seem to know much about the Empire, except for a few moves showing respect. Where, or rather, with whom, did she learn them?

Another Kilra'hra mentioned by Senior Specialist Dallas Seelig? Ulannajirak checks the smell carefully.
 
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CHAPTER 8

After finishing his work, Ulannajirak leaves the medbay. Escorted by guards, he comes to the entrance of a venue that looks a little different. A poorly printed banner that reads "Bugs and Cats. " is suspended over the entrance.

Ulannajirak had thought that the place where he had talked to Julianna earlier was a makeshift conference center or something, and that some VIP was coming for a lecture. By the time he got back to the Cell, he realized it was the dinner place - and he hadn't eaten anything.

But it was okay, anyway. Otherwise, he might have been the center of attention just for eating.

"Well, sir, where is this place?" Ulannajirak asks the guard. He decides to know the usage of this place first this time.

"Movie night, cat, it's entertainment for the crew." The guard answers... he obviously would rather watch the screen than answer the questions.

"Entertainment? I see..." Ulannajirak smells some complex mix of odors from the entrance.

"Am I authored to... take a look here?" he asks very carefully.

"Yeah, we can go in, you're scheduled for cultural learnings soon, consider this an intro." the guard answers, nonchalantly.

"Thank you very much, sir." Ulannajirak bows to the guard, and he finds food vending.

After a general look, he chooses a creamy ice cream - a snack that could be licked even for humans, so it might suit Ulannajirak now. Then he carefully steps into the movie theater.





Ulannajirak sees the screening hall filled with soft red lights. He remembers what he had read before, that the human visual system cannot see visible light for Kilrathi that is in the long wave band.

Ulannajirak sees an empty seat against the aisle and the neighbor next to it sits... Julianna, that woman pilot. It is the only seat in the theater left.

Julianna doesn't flinch and just says "Hey Jamie."

Jamie? Ulannajirak notices that Julianna might have the wrong person.

"Excuse me, Madam Julianna. It is me, Ulannajirak." A quick reunion, Ulannajirak thinks.

Julianna inhales sharply from the deep voice's surprise. "Oh, hi Ulannajirak... I just smelled the vanilla, assumed you were... someone else."

"Nice to see you again here." Ulannajirak says, "Do you mind if I sit next to you?"

"You're free to do so, I don't mind." Julianna smiles. "Aww what a cute birdman, it almost looks like those Firekkans."

"Oh, thank you very much!" Ulannajirak carefully sits down into the small seat. It is indeed a little small, but it is okay. A birdman? Firekkan? Seeing the character, Ulannajirak remembers the Firekka event a few years ago, and even Ghorah Khar rebels, and the forbidden name...

Julianna watches the movie plot with outright disgust. "What does he mean... woman hater?" She looks incensed.

Ulannajirak glances back at the guards who is still in a guarded posture. He knows that the guards' mission is to watch him, not to watch the movie. So, he doesn't say anything, but just looks at the screen.

"Huh, he couldn't hit a duck in a barrel." The lights turn back on as the movie finishes. "Well... that was something."

"What did you think about the Hata Mary? Ulannajirak." She learned his name, finally. "It's funny, historically animated non-sentient animals were used for alegory... what were the chances that it has a new meaning now like it does." She continues.

Ulannajirak is pulled back to reality by Julianna. "Ugh!" He is embarrassed. "Sorry, the lines in the movie were a little fast for me."

"Daffy duck is a speed talker allright. And his voice was made to modulate what they assumed a duck would sound like."

"Daffy Duck? Oh, I see." Ulannajirak gets the point, "In the empire, Daffy and his rabbit foe are recognized as Terran war heroes."

Ulannajirak does not say that the imperial court intelligence had developed a ridiculous set of provocative phrases for these cartoon characters. And this is almost a joke that cannot be openly laughed out loud for his clan, who really have understanding of human culture.

His french is so good. Julianna thinks.

The lights dim and the next movie starts.

"I heard nothing of the sort. Last kilrathi to taunt us... Tsunami mocked to oblivion." The woman pilot replies.





The lights come back on. As the light turns blueish, Ulannajirak notices a Terran comes to the other side next to Julianna. That's the man having meal with Julianna last time.

"Hey Enforcer, welcome!" Julianna sees the man snuck in during the second film.

"Greetings, Karen!" The man walks over and sits down.

Karen? Ulannajirak wonders for a second, Oh, it is Julianna's family name... or...

"You know... I'm a fan of bureaucracy... it prevents mistakes... but this blind faith in the law is a bit extreme, no?" Karen asks. Face full of popcorn.

"Well... Maybe... but..." Ulannajirak is hesitate to continue his words, "I read something else from this."

"Ah, what did you read?" Julianna asks.

Ulannajirak hesitates a bit, wondering if he had said too much in front of the humans, such as the last time he had inadvertently revealed his displeasure with the Emperor's family.

"Well, using Kilrathi's traditional mainstream perspective, those two ridiculous preys were just fighting for their lives in front of their predator." Ulannajirak pauses, "But..."

Hearing this, Julianna, or say, Karen looks at her feet, realizing how prey-like she behaves sometimes...

Ulannajirak looks at the man called Enforcer, then continues, "If you change the perspective, the rabbit and the duck are still seen as two warriors, then something makes us feel a little uneasy."

"Fighting with words... that is a good way to put it." Enforcer looks at Ulannajirak's clothing, trying to determine whether he was of noble or common birth.

"For example, a certain lord makes two warriors fight each other, so that he could benefits from the tussle or something..." Ulannajirak doesn't say that this plot makes him remember two clans with long generations of conflict, and the Kiranka royal family have gained a lot from this.

"Ah, you mean their abuse of power in order to leverage people against each other." Julianna seems to be interested.

"Funny how the fierce loyalty to a tribe overrides the loyalty to the peer. We do that too. We did that a lot, World War 1, 2 and 4. 3 was economic though." Singh comments.

"Wabbits?" Karen wooks bemusedwy at Uwannajiwak. How does he stay so cool? Julianna wonders.

"You haven't heard Imperial pilots... talking about them in combat? For example... oh never mind." Ulannajirak suddenly realizes that the topic could not continue, because some of those provocative terms are very vulgar and not suitable to be said in front of a lady.

"It regrettably does, Karen. You also see that with ideologies. Look at the country called the United States in the early 1860s."

"Finally, however, as the rabbit and the duck formed a consensus, that predator became the prey." Ulannajirak finally tells his idea to Julianna and Enforcer.

The lights dim for the 3rd and final movie.

"Gremlins? Our techs exterminated most of them." Karen mentions, "Enforcer, you hit any in your plane? The Russian landscape looks so bleak... I wonder if Cyric would agree." They lowers the voice.

"I've dealt with one or two in my day. They can be dangerous."

Karen covers her mouth trying not to laugh at the old thumbtack in the butt joke.

"Well, the predator said he was only hunting for sporting purposes, not to fill his stomach. I think there is a great similarity between Kilrathi and humans in this regard." Ulannajirak carefully says, "Something that was meant to be done for survival, slowly detached from its original purpose and turned into something else."

"Is this movie a propaganda piece mocking the enemy filmed during human's second global war?" Ulannajirak asks while looking at the screen.

"Was jack-ass a common insult in the day? two movies so far have that curse." Karen asks.

"Second... not sure... Earth history was never my strong point... maybe?" She shrugs back at Ulannajirak.

"Yes. It goes with the stubbornness of the donkey, which they used to nickname an ass or jackass."

"I see..." Suddenly Ulannajirak has a very unusual idea: Will there be such a propaganda moive for this war now? Seriously, he wants to see how ridiculous the royals of the Kiranka family were portrayed ridiculous.

"My nonna used to cook ass when I was younger... she had to special order it from earth. Tough meat." She recalls.

But I don't want to say this, especially after knowing that there are other Kilra'hra on this ship. Ulannajirak thinks.

Keyan notices Ulannajirak’s hesitation. "You are among friends here. Please do not be perturbed."

"Friends?" Ulannajirak looks at Enforcer. "Do you really regard me a friend?"

"Certainly." Karen looks away. "I- I consider you a safe acquaintance. But you're in a safe place" Karen continues.

Ulannajirak remembers the words that the White Maned Grand Master had told him: Never talk about the royal family in the imperial fleet, since no matter how good partners they seem to be, all those words would reach the ears of relevant imperial departments.

"Thank you so much for this, Mr. Enforcer." Ulannajirak decides not to talk too much on the Kiranka topic here., though it is a human ship here.

Finally, Ulannajirak tries to change the topic, "Eh, I don’t know if it’s appropriate to discuss this here, but I have some personal belongings on my shuttle, such as clothes - well, I haven’t changed this outfit for several days."

"We can put in a req with the Yeoman. But, I'm not sure how much has been inventoried... we can check... there is another option though... " Julianna mentions. "The captured kilrathi freighter has a lot of swag, and we don't know what to do with a lot of it. Normally it gets incinerated on the 3rd of every month."

"Eh! You mean disposal?" Ulannajirak shows a anxious look. "Please! There is one thing really important for me on my shuttle!" Ulannajirak is in a hurry, "Please keep it."

"None of these long robes fit us. Maybe if I stood on Enforcer's shoulders..." Karen continues, not noticing Ulannajirak's panicked look.

"It is an instrument in a case -- a Terran instrument!" Ulannajirak is almost like praying.

"Let's see the flight deck?" Julianna asks the guard.

"I got it from my s... well, I got it in the process of learning about human culture." Ulannajirak continues, "It is important to me."

Ulannajirak looks at the two humans in front of him, and the guard behind him, "If possible, please lead the way."

Julianna smiles, as if she is making a guess with Ulannajirk's words, and gets something funny. "Let's go." Karen muses.

Karen walks up to the flight deck with the guards, and Ulannajirak, as well as Enforcer. "I'll stay here... but you can ask the technicians for access to your effects." Julianna says. She appears to not want to enter the flight deck. Upon entering a certain pungent aroma greets you.

"Thank you, madam." Ulannajirak bows, and quickly steps to the technicians on the deck.





"'Ey, it's the Kilra'hra! Come to see the progress in reverse enginerding your shuttle?" A large technician greets Ulannajirak.

"By the way, I tooks the freedumb of collecting your gear, didn't want to stain your garb with molybdenum disulfide." Seelig continues.

"My blood warms at the sight of you all." Ulannajirak quickly asks, "I just wonder if you got a Terran style small case on my... on the shuttle?"

He nods at a box in the corner, with several robes. a couple golden sashes and a white ash sliding box.

"Eh..." Ulannajirak just wants to get it, but he carefully stops and asks Seelig, "Can I take them back to the cell? I think you have checked them, no dangerous."

"No hair off my butt, I had to get rid of them by tuesday, yer doing me a favor."

"You have my gratitude, Mr. Seelig." Ulannajirak bows to Seelig as well as the others, then opens the case. There are the clothes, and also, in a sub-case, a musical instrument made of bamboo that looks like a flute.

"Ah, you are here safely, my old buddy." Ulannajirak breathes a sigh of relief, closes the case.





After one more bowing to Seelig and otheres, Ulannajirak takes the case out of the deck, and says to the guards, "Now please take me back to my cell."

"And, great to see you again, Madam Julianna and Mr. Enforcer." Ulannajirak bows to them, "Please expect something new from Ulannajirak soon."

Karen looks nonplussed. "What could that box contain though?"
 
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