The Smuggler's home

Souleymane.Senghor climbs the final steps and walks onto his 'front porch". The walk was a long one, or it was for little Fukujuso. About halfway, he took her on his back, like a piggyback ride. The walk through the caves was interesting. Fukujuso held tightly onto him. The many, many steps around to his place made for a long walk, but hed long ago grown used to it. He explained during the walk that he had lived here almost three years now and he loved it because of its remoteness.

The moon itself was so disturbed by the Takaar Nebula that beaming down was impossible. Communication on the surface was accomplished by hard lines underground. He had told Poison to land the runabout at the pier and had pretended not to watch her as they walked through Gati to his home. She had seen the natives .. the stone like creatures, but he had not slowed. Even the greetings he received were answered with a nod or a wave of the hand .. but no one seemed surprised at it. He tried to gauge Poisons reaction to the graffiti at the club The Blue Door, but he had missed much of it.

She would certainly understand why he did not want Fukujuso living here. They are greeted by a dog that is almost as tall as he is, but apparently friendly. He lets Fuku down and she and the dog bond immediately as the dor licks her so enthusiastically that the child winds up on her butt. But she giggles like crazy. "That's Dia." he explains. "He won't let anything happen to you." he tells the child. Then he looks at Po. "Lets go on inside." he pushes a panel and the door slides up and he enters. The windows are black, until he says "Windows, clear." and they appear to vanish.

Senshi.Fukujuso giggles as the dog picks her up and sets her on her feet. Then when the door opens, she rushes inside and looks with wide eyes out the window.

Poison Toocooll follows Souley through a maze of places, caves, buildings... statues or creatures? Her instincts aren't sure. Finally they end up at some kind of a module, which appears to be Souley's home. He opens the door and a huge hound comes out, her hackles raise for a moment and she moves to protect the child, but can't get there before the dog knocks Shenshi over, but in a benign and friendly way. She smiles at that and enters the house, eyes luminous, curious, and a bit wary

Souleymane.Senghor grins as Fuku seems to make herself to home immediately. The view is one of the best on the island, even in the dark of night. "Ahhh home again." he almost sighs the words. "Can I get you anything, Poison?" he asks, keeping the familiarity he's adopted. "The fruit is fresh." he nods to the dining area .. beside the fireplace.

Senshi.Fukujuso giggles and is already looking at the fruit on the table. Hearing the permission she reaches for a bunch of grapes and begins to eat ... as comfortable in this home as she is with its owner.

Poison Toocool steps further inside, feeling a little awkward. She isn't even sure now why she decided to bring them here, curiosity? "I'm really thirsty," she says to Souley, "That was a long walk." She moves to Shenshi, feeling a bit... safer with the child, aware the man is behind her. "How is this fruit fresh?" she wonders aloud, knowing he's been with her for... a couple weeks or more. She turns to look at him with raised eyebrows.

Souleymane.Senghor comes over and pats Fuku on the head as she giggles and contiues to explore the house. He moves tot he cabinet and pulls out a simple looking glass, fills it at the sink and offers it to her. It is fresh because Jude would have seen us land and put it out for me. He's te owner of the lighthouse we passed as we came out of the cave." he explains. "He's ... not the friendliest looking guy, but he and I have become friends. He is the one brought me here in the first place and suggested I stay." he get some water for himself and bolts it down.

Senshi.Fukujuso giggles and heads down the stone staircase and out of sight

Poison Toocool takes the glass and nods, drinking slowly, wanting to tell Shenshi to stay in sight but stopping herself. "Sounds like a good friend," she says, still feeling awkward and disliking it. "It feels sort of cold in here," she adds, rubbing her arms. "But nice. I've lived in all sorts of places," she confesses, rubbing one hand along the back of the couch, "are you comfortable here?" Again she feels like she's just making conversation.

Souleymane.Senghor nods. "He is." he says shortly. "I'd light a fire. I've been gone a long time and Jude loves it cold. Actually ...." he moves to the fireplace and kneels, building a fire anyway. Soon it is all but roaring in the fireplace. "It ... suits me more than my other place." he moves to her. "I'm more comfortable here NOW than I have been in the past ...." he rumbles, setting a hand on her upper arm. "The place feels more ... alive now." he tells her, only half willing to make conversation. He has reservations about bringing her here. So why did he suggest it? He could have waited to get his clothes. But he was ... compelled .... to share this place with her. Why?

Poison Toocool moves towards the fireplace, watching as Souley builds a fire. In a way she appreciates their quietness together, she doesn't find the need to talk all the time the way some do. "Does Jude live here," she waits for the warmth of the fire to come to her. Souley moves to her and puts his hand on her arm, finally the heat from the fire starts to penetrate her bones, "I don't know why I felt so cold. This is nice," she says of the fire, wishing she could relax more.

Souleymane.Senghor grins into the fire. "No. Jude is the lighthouse keeper .... he has his own place. I have always lived here .... alone." the last word is emphasized and a touch sad. He stands and turns his back to the fire, moving to her. "It's a moon .... they can get pretty cold." he moves directly in front of her. "But this IS very nice....." he agrees. then he cannot help himself and the devilish part of him adds. "I've always wanted to make love in front of this fire ...."

Senshi Fukujuso hops into a chair and stares. After a while she calls upstairs. "Soul-san .... who is the pretty lady in the picture?" curiously.

Poison Toocool closes her eyes, letting the heat come to her, willing herself to relax, hearing his baritone tones as he tells her about Jude, that he has lived alone, how cold it can be, she feels herself letting go just a little, then he makes a crack about making love in front of the fire and her eyes fly open, looking to his. Shenshi's voice calls to them, something about a picture, she steps back from him, nerved, calling, "what picture is that Shen?"

Souleymane.Senghor watches Po's eyes fly open and would laugh if not for the interruption from Fuku. He turns and takes Po's hand, if she lets him to lead her downstairs. He lets her hand go at the foot of the steps and looks at the picture. "That is Kat ...." he tells her. He pauses and glances slightly back at Poison. "Kattell Daro. She .... " he pauses again. "She was an artist I knew once." he suddenly straightens. "How about you go play with Dia." he suggests. "He hasn't had any one to play with for months." he pauses, afraid that won't be enough for the child. But she brightens and, question answered, she runs up and out to the dog, laughing.

Poison Toocool allows him to take her hand and pull her down the stairs, she almost trips, taken aback by the incredible view. He lets her go and she finishes the rest of the way by herself, distracted by the ocean beneath them, "lovely," she says on an outflow of breath, then turning to see Shenshi, and Souley, and this picture. An artist's picture, in his personal quart... area? "She is pretty," she says politely, moving aside to let Fuku trundle up the stairs and outside to play with the dog. Once the child is gone, she looks to him. "Cardassian?"

Souleymane.Senghor is long used to the view. It is the picture he is now staring at. He hasn't seen it since he left a couple of months ago. He hears Poison behind him. "Yes. She was Cardassian." he begins and licks his lips. He hesitates. "She painted that for me." he rumbles and his voice becomes a growl that might be more at home in the Cardassian Wolfhoind Dia. "Before she was killed."

Poison Toocool raises her eyebrows. "She IS stunning and paints very well too," she says quietly, her body stiff. She'd only met a couple of Cardassians in her day, but she knew of them, and what they did to Bajor and other worlds. She dislikes them the same way she dislikes Klingons and Hirogen and Borg. Because of how they have acted. When he says the girl was killed, she moves to him, reaching a hand to his arm, hearing the growl in his voice, thinking he might be feeling some pain but unsure, as she always feels unsure around him. "I'm sorry to hear that," she adds even quieter, any spurt of ill feeling about him having a beautiful girl in his past disappears now.

Souleymane.Senghor clears his throat gruffly. "She ..made her arms too thin .. and her chest too big .... but ... yes ... she was .... stunning." he chokes. "He turns at her touch and looks at her. "You mentioned that when I told you about her before ...." he sighs deeply. "Yea .... the woman I loved that got herself killed was Cardassian ....." he shrugs and swallows. "That water is going right through me." he lies, his voice cracking only slightly. "If you'll excuse me." he turns and goes into the small room under the stairs .. apparently waste reclamation ... and she hears water rinning .. his bladder is fine. He just needs to splash some water on his face and collect himself.

Poison Toocool watches him move away from her and close the door. She turned to look at the ocean again. She could not claim to know what he was feeling, but having had losses of her own, she felt a sympathy she didn't know how to express to him. Words often failed her in these circumstances. In charge of things, deciding what to do, and get it done, she was good at that. Inside her, that place that was her and not her and all of her hers and hims, that place glowed faintly, with her instinct to sooth and heal and help. She breathed, the air was slightly stale, she wished she could open a window, suddenly the silence seemed too great, although her ears could detect the cackling of the fire, Shenshi's giggle outside, and even the lap of the waves below. She breathed again, and set herself to wait, closing her eyes, visioning a peaceful place, trying to empty her mind of before and future, of worries and doubts, to be, in a sense, non-sentient for a moment, and just exist.

Souleymane.Senghor looks at his reflection in the mirror, then reaches for a towel, dries his face and looks again. He licks his lips slowly and sighs deeply .... putting the last pieces of himself in place ... he hopes. He comes out and moves to a position right behind her, just giving the painting of Kat a glance. "I'm sorry about that." he apologizes. Then he looks over her shoulder. "It IS a great view, isn't it?" he murmurs and he steps out of her space slightly, crossing his arms and rubbing them, even though the place is warming.

Poison Toocool hears him open the door and come back to her, her instincts follow his footsteps as he crosses to her, and makes a comment about the view. Were they to say nothing about what just occurred then? Maybe he didn't want to go that deep, share that pain. Shenshi was near, too. She was confused by the dance between them, and, not knowing what to say, chose to say nothing at all, but nodded, and glanced to him, acknowledging him. She did not smile though, as part of her was still imagining his loss and feeling something in response to it, she tried to push it away, afraid it would mingle with other feelings she had and become some kind of dragon she'd have to slay before it overcame him and her. Sometimes she felt she could cry an ocean at all the terrible things sentient beings did to each other. Finally she just moved towards him, wanting to reach a hand with gentle fingers to his arm.

Souleymane.Senghor looks at her when she turns and he unfolds his arms. He knew he was being defensive and he really didn't want that. He bites his bottom lip. "It's not always easy to let go and move on." he murmurs. "But that is where I am now, Poison." he looks at her intently. "So i want to ask you .... does the idea of my being with .... loving ... a Cardassian ... bother you?" the question may seem to come completely out of left field, as it were.

Poison Toocool's eyes darken, looking at him. Her life before Starfleet was a jangled mess of imagery and instinctual living. She had always been alone and getting accepted into the Academy had been a huge effort. She had struggled with some of the things the others took for granted... being in close quarters, constant chatter, the food, the atmosphere on the stations and ships. But it gave her life a structure she didn't even know she desperately needed. Now, standing here with him, wondering what she was even doing, she thought about his question. She knew logically that you can't paint a species with one brush, but emotions were not known for being logical. Her lips twist in a small smile. Getting Vulcan, was she. "I'd like to say," she says on an outflow of breath, "I'd like to say that, if you loved her, she must of been a lovely person. I'd like to think that we are more than... races or species. That we don't have to limit ourselves to those boundaries. That being loyal to a specific set of sentient beings should not mean you have the right to hate all others." She moves away towards a chair, finally sitting down, putting her elbows on her knees, and looking up to him.

Souleymane.Senghor arches his brows and his eyes follow her to the chair she finally settled into. "I see ...." he moves around his own desk and stands beside his chair. "That was a very careful answer, but .... alright." he places his hands on his own knees, and leans forward .. his downturned face close to her upturned one. "Then you won't be overly offended when I tell you that you remind me a lot of Kat." his eyes search her .. for that glow .. for anything. "And between me, you and the walls .... scares the living hell out of me." he realizes now... he needs to get this out and done .. to know ... one way or another ... at least where he is in his own skin.

Poison Toocool looks to him as he moves to sit down. In reply to what he has said, she murmurs, "Careful, I guess that's true." She feels him looking at her, his words brush by her. She grows taunt and still as she takes in what he has said. Again she feels wordless. She wants to say she isn't Kat. He knows she's not. He just means maybe there's something in both of them that seems familiar. It seems like ages before her mind formulates some kind of reply, finally she blurts out, "You don't know me, I don't know you, I don't even know what's happening." And lastly, she looks down and says in a small voice, almost in a childlike simplicity, "I'm scared too."

Souleymane.Senghor not only senses but sees her go tense. "And if you have YOUR way ...." he leans in even closer, their foreheads almost touching. He knows he is crowding her, but in a way it feels right, no matter how dangerous he believes it is on an instinctual level. "You never WILL know me." he tells her, feeling as if he knows that IS what she means. "But let me tell you what *I* think is happening. I think ..no .. I KNOW .. we are experiencing an extremely strong mutual attraction that is scaring us both." his voice lowers and his eyes search hers .. and her face ... "But I might surprise you, Poison. Might be stronger than you think I am. But to find that out, you have to NOT push me away." and if he is allowed he will move that fraction more until their foreheads are physically touching.

Poison Toocool sighs softly, stretching her hands out and rubbing her legs absentmindedly. She feels a chill in the room, the fire is so far away. Does she shiver from that, or from emotion? The Fleet Captain is gone for a moment, and she is just a youngling. He moves in on her, it seems aggressive to her, and she doesn't like it. She tries to calm her nerves and stills again, listening. She almost growls, hackles rising, as he emphasizes words. "How have I pushed you away? I spent time with you and Shenshi, I even took LOA to bring you both here, why do you think I did that?" she spits, leaning back, wanting to get up and move, irritated, but staying put and looking back at him, eyes straight into his, holding her ground.

Souleymane.Senghor doesn't relax his stance just yet. "You've done all of that." he concedes, not complaining when she backs up. "You have, indeed...." he pauses and closes his eyes a moment. "Maybe you did it because while you care about this child that has given herself to us, you also care something for the animal that led you to her." he opens his eyes. "And before you take that gigantic leap you took back ont he ship ... I am not talking about love or marriage or anything like that." he scoffs the slightest laugh. "I am still amazed that you made that ... slip ...." he thinks back ...it was a telling slip of her tongue, as he remembers it.

Poison Toocool shakes her head at him, "Don't call yourself an animal. You are not that. You can't be that," he may not understand how she knows this but she has to say it. "I care about Senshi, who wouldn't. She's remarkable. She reminds me of me. And if you think I'd reject a child who needs me, you don't know me AT ALL." As the the rest she shrugs her shoulders, "You seemed to think the fact that she has 'adopted us' made us... you and me, into something." Now she did get up and move away, but turned to look at him, "If you think I was sitting at night scribbling your name and mine in little hearts, you are dreaming, Souley."

She scoffs, "Don't project your own feelings or wishes or desires or thoughts onto me. If I don't tell you what I think or feel, you don't know it. I wanted us," she slows down, full of angst and needing to get it out, "I WANT us to be friends. And I want you to... let me be me, and let me breathe, and let me find my way... but I don't know that's right or fair or anything, I just feel... trapped by this," she waves her arms at him and her, "because it's not something I ever expected or thought I needed. You know?" she crosses her arms, looking at him, begging him with her eyes to understand. Perhaps he can't, she doesn't know. She sighs again, waiting for him to... say or do whatever he'll do now.

Souleymane.Senghor sighs. "Lets never mind what I am ...." he pauses and listens .. the the entire tirade ... and lets her go .. get up and move .... "We ARE friends. That much ... we got." he pauses and looks at her with understanding. He moves to the front of his desk and leans against it. "You never thought you would ever want ot need a friend ..." he says slowly. "Never mind ... something more ...." he nods. "I know." he whispers. "When that happened to me before I was sort of .. stunned. I lashed out ... and fought it ..." his head drops, but the corners of his mouth twitch and there is an ironic humor in his voice when he continues. "Physically." she may see his eyes cut tot he painting, as if she, Kat, had a part in this .. physical fight.

Poison Toocool shakes her head at him again. "I have friends. Good ones," the thought of Hars comes to her mind. "Friends who know me and stand by me. People I work with, and more. But this, I don't know what, romance or attraction or... no, I don't need it. I had it once, it just about Killed me, do you understand? I almost died from it. My life was... nothing after that. I don't want to care that much again. I don't even know if I can. So if I'm fighting you, it's not just because you can't truly know me, not really," it's cryptic but she can't say more, "it's because I can't afford to go there again." She thinks he glances to the girl's picture as he talks about how he fought against the feelings for her, and she adds, "I'm not saying you didn't feel what you felt, for her, or after her. It's just not simple."

She takes a deep breath, "So, let's say we decide to... tumble into this relationship, to hell with everything else. Well, I'm a Fleet Captain in an organization you clearly despise. I have a million responsibilities, and very little free time. And, I'm not like you. I have.. I'm different. I'm not human. I suspect you already know that, you're not totally blind." She wrings her hands together, "We can't just, jump in, even if we want to, and even if it's even... possible."

Souleymane.Senghor nods slowly as she speaks, taking in every word she speaks to him. "You think I want to feel that kind of pain again?" he asks her but without a frown. It is a strangely mildly toned question. "We fought for the little we had. Because she was one of an almost extinct people. So of course .. no human blood was welcome." he sighs and looks at her. "To hell with everything." he smiles and laughs then. "You are a Starfleet Fleet Captain with a million responsibilities. I'm a suspected smuggler from a long, long line of suspected smugglers." the irony certainly isn't lost on him ... that would be a problem ... even in a friendship. "I know you're not human, Poison. I have no blessed clue WHAT you are. And I don't care. I had an entire species hate me for loving one of theirs without BEING one of them. And ... if emotions warrant ... " he shrugs and looks at her evenly. "I can jump into anything I want to. Are you saying if this goes further than 'just friends'..." he straightens and reaches for her hand, if she'll let him take it. "That you might kill me?" he'll hold her hand if he can. "And that if it could, that it should stop me?"

Poison Toocool feels worn out from this conversation. She pricks her ears, wondering if Shenshi is okay. She wonders if the hound is smart enough to alert them if there's a problem. She trembles again, from saying so much, from daring to even mention how she's different, does he know how much it takes for her to say that, to trust him with that huge overwhelming fact that only a handful of people have ever known about her, and all sworn to secrecy. Her eyes grow luminous as she looks at him, her skin begins to flow faintly, as she allows herself to reveal just a little, she listens to him speak, "Almost extinct," she nods, feeling a kinship with Kat, alone and without any others of her kind. He laughs for a second and the glow becomes more silver. a faint hue, as he reaches for her, she shakes her head but takes his hand anyway, "I could, but I won't. I detest killing and violence. I will protect who I need to protect, including myself. And Shenshi. And you," looking up into his eyes, sure he doesn't need or want her... protection, but all she feels safe offering in this moment.

Souleymane.Senghor only nods once as she mentions extinction and glows a bit. He listens to her answer. "That's nice to know .... but ...." he pauses and squeezes her hand a moment. "What matters to me the most ... for me and Fukujuso and even Driss is ..." he moves close and leans in to murmur in her ear. "Could you love us enough to kill us, if leaving us alive would be worse than letting us live?" he kisses her on the cheek quickly, if allowed, then straightens at a loud high pitched little girl laugh. He lets go of her hand and heads up the stairs calling. "Alright, that's enough fun! I want to have some too ....." and he heads out now that dawn has broken on Ndoto ... on Gati island .... a brand new day. But this isn't over .. he knows it .. even if Poison doesn't..

=A=

Heading home

Colony Commander's Log
XO's Ready Room, USS Temujin
Location: Sector G-009E, Enroute to Astraios

Stardate 150215

After two days cramped together on the USS Mont Cervin, the runabout was thankfully met by the Akira Class USS Temujin, and taken aboard. The civilians are all assigned to quarters now, and the XO has graciously offered me his ready room while I am aboard. This gave me the opportunity to spend some hours going over the information from the Task Force working on G-009F, including interesting reports from the Davy Crockett regarding life forms in Sig Sigma Alpha system. In addition, I was able to catch up on reports from the Colony and from Science with regard to the Sig Sigma capsule still under study. At the end of all that, instead of a break to relax, I had to...I needed to deal with Mr Senghor, who seemed to feel we needed to talk about the situation with the child, Shenshi. In the end we agreed she should be placed with his sister, Idrissa, at the Colony, and I will look for suitable housing for them. He..

*she pauses, loathe to talk about it, even to a computer*

Well, he seems to think the child needs parents, and has chosen us. Him. Me.

*Moves restlessly*

I have nothing but sympathy for her, she's a sweet child, lost within herself sometimes but that's not surprising given what she's been through.

But neither of them know what they are asking. Nor do they know... who... what... they are dealing with. No one does.

Computer, erase that last line, and play back.

<acknowledged>

'But neither of them know what they are asking.'

*Sighs*

Computer, erase the whole damn thing.

<recording deleted>

Stability

Colony Commander's Log, 
Ready Room, USS Argonaut
Location: Sector G-009E

Enroute to Sig Sigma Alpha
Stardate 150203
======================

Well, we managed to find a way to use transwarp despite the worry that it might cause a problem with stability in the sector. We found the asteroid belt and the slavers’ hide out. Most of them are either dead, in the brig or sickbay, or have fled. We tracked a few small ships leaving the area, cloaking as they went. We’ve sent their trajectory to the sector patrols in the hopes they might pick up a couple.

Souleymane... Mr Senghor assisted us to find and shut down the pirate shuttle bay, damaging several fighters in the process. I admit some discomfort with this decision, now I look back at it. Our rules of engagement are very clear. To come in, all guns blazing, without any provocation... that is not our way. I am... *sighs*

...Science located a vessel hidden in the belt, that was phasing in and out of view due to a damaged cloak and other systems. As we could not get a secure transporter lock on the civilians, an away team was sent to the upper deck of the vessel. It was hoped they could stabilize it for a few minutes, giving us time to locate and move the civilians if need be, or use transporter boosters in order to get them over to us. I went with the away team. An unusual thing for a Captain, but... since I had some experience of the slavers due to my kidnapping two years ago, I determined my knowledge of their habits might assist us in locating the women and girls who had been abducted. We found them, in the end.

Unfortunately some were already dead. But there are several in our sickbay, including a small child... who it appears has latched onto Sou.. Mr Senghor and myself as security. She lost both her parents in this debacle... the rescued civilians will soon be on the USS Mont Cervin, heading back to Sector G-009 and Astraios. I may go with them. The Argonaut is now on course for her first assignment in Sig Sigma... at medium warp to allow time for some repairs and diagnostics. If I do choose to return to Astraios, there is a little time before the runabout will leave. Medical wants to make sure the civilians are stable and relatively calm before sending them off. The ship is at blue alert, and some relaxation is in order after the urgency of the past few days.

At Astraios there is an alien object to be examined, found orbiting the Sig Sigma Alpha sun. And there are other important duties to attend to. In particular I want science and medical to check everything out and ensure that the use of transwarp in the restricted zone has not affected our station, colony, Astraios Prime, or the fabric of space around us in sector G-009D.