Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part One
Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: The Holy Catacombs

    Captain Kematsopoulos peered in cautiously. The room in this part of the tunnel was polished white stone. The Sandokhan dead were neatly entombed in some elaborate pattern. There were statues and all manner of adornment for the tombs. The immense room was minimally illumined with burning torches. The light danced eerily on the walls, tombs and statues giving the illusion of movement.

    The Captain, who was shivering and still carrying the ill Empress, could not help but glance further at the surroundings as he entered. He was impressed. The Sandokhans were a remarkable people and perhaps the saddest casualty of the hatred between the Galadons and Tureth.

    The others followed behind him. Dr. Sarie carried Lasara and Dr. L carried Rolin, who was nearly her size as they searched for a place to hide. A small recessed ledge off to the left side, met their needs. They put the sleeping children in first and made them comfortable. Then it was the adults turn. The Empress convinced the CO that he should enter sleep next and then she'd join them in the second stage of the Ankhanahkstoi, the trancelike restorative sleep.

    The Captain ordered the AMO and CMO to go on without them and escape the cave. The CMO reluctantly agreed, gave him a warning and left.

    "Captain, you are next," the Empress said.

    He pulled himself up on the ledge and looked at her. Her beautiful eyes looked distant and pained. "What is wrong?" he said not being able to seek out the answer through the bond/link. She was shielding him from something.

    She hesitated for a moment as if lost in some other thought.  "The Sandokhans have started some part of their mourning ritual named 'The Call to Mourn'. They ..." she said stopping mid-sentence.  Her eyes became glazed and she started to sway to some inaudible music (the chanting from the ritual).

    "Your Majesty, what is wrong?" he asked straining to understand both her words and her thoughts.

    "Hurry - enter the sleep now!" she said as if someone else was talking though her.

    "No. Not until I know what is going on. What is wrong?" Nouri asked, very worried for her. Something was definitely wrong.

    The Empress continued swaying and began chanting along with the mourners in a guttural alien tongue. The universal translator had a difficult time translating most of the words. Only a few words came out intermittently.

    Suddenly the Empress dropped the mental barrier she erected to prevent the Captain from knowing what had happened to her as the Sandokhans advanced on their position.

    Then he felt it. Nouri felt it himself and through the bond with the Empress. "The Call to Mourn". He shuddered. It was like nothing he had ever felt before.

Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part Two
Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: A hidden upper ledge in the Holy Catacombs

    "The Call to Mourn" called the CMO to join them and she did. It called the Empress who had also fallen under its spell. Now it called to Nouri to join them. It called him to share in their mourning and to share his own grief.

    The grief over the loss of his departed wife rose and swelled with in him and joined that of the mourning party as did their grief in him. He looked down at his wedding ring, which he still wore after being widowered. He rubbed it wishfully. He missed T'Nar very much and always would. He was surprised he could even love another, yet he loved (or so he believed) the Empress.

    His grief swirled and mixed together with the Sandokhans. They became as one people who shared the same losses. Nouri felt compelled to join them and help entomb their dead and to give T'Nar the burial he never had the chance to give her. (Not much was left of her transport shuttle or its passengers after the "accident" ripped the vessel apart. His wife's body was never found.)

    The Empress smiled oddly and read his thoughts. "Join us and entomb our dead," she said as she tried to leave the ledge. The Empress had lost people close the her in the Romulan terrorist attack on her palace and from the capture by the Sandokhans. Nouri felt this too as a lure to join the mourners.

    "No! We cannot. We cannot reveal our location.  We cannot trust K'Arak to set us free. We must enter the second stage of the Ankhanahkstoi, finish the ritual and escape to the surface!!" he said adamantly. Nouri reached out with one hand to hold her and keep her from leaving.

    He reached with his other hand into the medical kit the AMO left him.

Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part Three

Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: A hidden upper ledge in the Holy Catacombs

    After careful but quick thought, the Captain gave the woman he thought he loved a sedative. It was the only way he could think of saving her. She struggled against it then fell limp in his arms. Nouri changed his position to support her dead weight. The hypo fell out of his hand and rolled forward to the beginning of the ledge. It was now visible to any passerby who looked up.

    As Zahrina became unconscious, Captain Kematsopoulos sighed with relief. He had kept her and this location safe from the Sandokhans and was now severed from the strongest link he had to the them.

    Nouri did not know if the Empress would be able to enter the second stage of the ritual with the sedative. He hoped she would. He had no choice though. Being telepathically linked to her, he knew she could not resist the strong compelling urge to join the aliens in their mourning ritual. He could barely do so himself.

    He ignored the hypospray for now, dragged his beloved gently to the back of the recess and put her with the children. She was still very cold as was he. Nouri put her near the two small blissfully snoring Sandokhans. He covered her with one of the blankets that they brought from the holding cell.

    He smiled. The children seemed fine. Little Lasara and her brother Rolin got to enter stage two on time. But for the adults, he felt that something had gone wrong again with the healing ritual. Or perhaps it was just different from the last time for unknown reasons? "Perhaps it was because we (he and the Empress) had not entered the sleep?" he thought. The last time he did at least get to begin the second stage on time.

    Nouri sat down near the Empress. He could still feel the pull but not so intensely. It was difficult but he could manage it. Captain Kematsopoulos set up watch. He knew that he should join the others in stage two but someone had to be on guard when the Sandokhans entered. He hoped that they would not stay long. He put the second blanket over his shivering body and tried to get warm. He put his makeshift weapon down near him.

    For a moment he regretted telling his medical team to leave them but he knew that the chances of them making it out alive being stuck with the four of them who would have to be hiding here for hours was practically nonexistent. He tried to settle more comfortably into his hiding spot with the other three.

Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part Four
Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: A hidden upper ledge in the Holy Catacombs

    L'Asaha and her party arrived at the entrance of the Holy Catacombs. She paused, drawing her will about her and the will of those present. They hit a feverish pitch, sustained it and waited. More joined them.

    The Captain felt this. He began to show the same signs that the Empress had before he sedated her. Nouri fought to hold on. The drums. The chants. The gongs. The bells. The cantors. The unexplainable ritualistic pull. All compelled him to join them. Join them now. Join them or perish.

    L'Asaha, through her ritual and role as priestess, felt someone alien getting caught up in "The Call". It was a male overwhelmed with grief from losing his wife. She intensified her efforts to draw everyone to funeral ceremony and focused on him. She could not tell who he was but she could feel his grief.  She stepped up "The Call to Mourn" to draw him to her.

    She chanted and went nearer to the Captain's location, not knowing exactly where he was. As the mighty priestess drew closer and closer, she tired to ensnare him as she did the CMO. The urge to join them became overpowering for the Captain.

    It became clear to Nouri that he could not hold on.  He had one way left to avoid joining them but was it too late?

    Had he known the CMO was recaptured he would have tried to save her and been surely swept away by "The Call to Mourn". Had he known that the CMO revealed their location he would not have taken this last option either.  But he did not know. He thought the CMO had left with AMO and was safely on her way to freedom. His emerging telepathic abilities from the mutations were just not that strong and he had no idea what to do with them or how to focus them.

    The pull was intense. Nouri fought hard to concentrate and not give in. The Captain reached for the hypospray that rolled away when he moved the Empress. He had momentarily forgotten that it had rolled away as he struggled to keep from joining he mourners. He needed to get it out of view. If the ritual continued its stranglehold on him, he would have to use it on himself. He could think of no other way to escape "The Call", if nothing else worked.

    He continued to execute his specialized training on Vulcan and from his grandmother. He added to it T'Nar's memories from their emafa suru (mind meld). Nouristao used all this to battle them and to struggle to remain in control of his mind. Would all of this be enough? He began to doubt it.

    As soon as he did, Nouri's eyes glazed and he began to sway back and forth to the chanting. He became lost to "The Call to Mourn". His hand that had reached for the hypospray, went palm down instead to support his weight so he could leave the ledge and join the mourners.


Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part Five

Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: A hidden upper ledge in the Holy Catacombs

    Nouri was lost to "The Call to Mourn" and trying to get off the ledge to join the Sandokhans. His eyes showed the tell tale signs of being in the trance. However it was not the one he needed to be saved (The Ankhanahkstoi) but one from the Sandokhans(The Call to Mourn). They called to him to join them in their sorrow.

    He tried to get off the ledge but the fatigue from the last few days of not sleeping and eating enough overwhelmed him. His hand slipped from supporting his weight. Fortunately for him at the same time L'Asaha gave her deaconess control of the ritual so she could question the CMO.  "The Call to Mourn" momentarily lost its complete power over him.

    Nouristao looked down at his hand that slipped. Where was he? What was he doing? He forgot. He looked around for a clue. He saw the hypospray. That was an odd place for it he thought. He could not recall that he had used it earlier. He went to pick the up the hypo. "Perhaps it will provide some answer to what I am doing?" he thought. He stretched out his arm to reach it.

    His hand left the almost complete darkness of the recessed ledge and came forward toward the main room top grab the hypospray. He concentrated hard to try to remember what he was doing or hoping to do with it. SPARKLE! The light from the torches reflected off his wedding ring. "T'Nar: Remember me," it seemed to say. S'Tao remembered. He grabbed the hypospray and without hesitation injected himself. He hoped it would be enough.

    The Captain felt himself get drowsy. He hurried to join the other three sleeping hidden recession the ledge. THUNK! He fell unconscious before he could make it all the way back. His torso and hand fell forward and his feet behind him toward the sleeping trio.

Guest Alien Log: L'Asaha

Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part Six
Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: At entrance the Holy Catacombs

    L'Asaha, the mighty high priestess of the Sandokhans continues the rites for their newly dead. The Sandokhan faithful carry their dead in biers laden with exotic flowers and waving banners with images of their dead and favorite saints. The chanting is reverential and the incense inviting. The biers, banners and people sway back in forth to the music. The smoke from the censor wafts lazily into the air making a series of interconnected half circles. The candles flicker slowly.

    They all process in a grand stately manner toward the Holy Catacombs. L'Asaha motions to the others to begin a new part of the funerary services called, "The Call to Mourn". They will gather up both believers and non-believers to mourn and honor the dead as the dead join their ancestors in entombment. The cantors change the chants and deaconess changes the incense. The candles seem to respond to those changes and flicker faster in response to the heightened pace.

    The funeral procession winds along the tunnels until the High Priestess feels something unusual ... something ... something ... alien. She stops.

    She looks around with her physical eyes and does not see anything. Through her role as priestess she "sees" an alien somewhere nearby, a female or maybe two. She steps up the ritual to draw her/them out. (Note: She doesn't "see" a picture of someone, just feel their presence.)

    Unknown to the Sandokhans, the CMO and AMO are hiding just barely out of site in a crevice right behind them. Both of the doctors are having a hard time not giving into "The Call " but the Moeban had the hardest struggle as those with telepathic abilities and closest to the chanting are the most vulnerable.

    The CMO is not a strong telepath but the cantors are practically standing on her feet. She tries hard to resist but finally succumbs, leaving the AMO behind.

    LCDR Laleia-Lii emerges from behind the sloping rock and joins the mourners in the back. She sways and chants with them, fully caught up in "The Call". They become as one people and one voice.

    L'Asaha turns and sees "the alien child" appear. She smiles. It was that the female child that those newly captured aliens brought with them. She moves the procession along and tries not to dwell on how sad a race these new aliens must be to bring children with them on their evil missions.

    The mourning party continues to call others to join in their sorrow and to entomb the dead. Then those newly called get others to join. The sphere of influence under control of "The Call" grows and grows like ripples in a pond.

    Suddenly, L'Asaha feels it again. Another alien!  Whoever this alien woman was she was not nearby and fought her attempts to draw her to them. This one she could tell from prior experience was highly telepathic and Galadonese. She smiles, that will make it easy to "Call" her.

    The Priestess turns her focus to catch this alien also. She increases the strength of "the Call". L'Asaha leans further herself into the ritual to "see" this person. She tries to extend her sphere of influence and get her to invite others near her if any.

    There was something odd in the victim's reaction to her. It is hard to pinpoint. Almost like a mother protecting a child. "How odd," she thinks. She continues to draw her will about her and press the woman with it and the will of everyone present. L'Asaha knows of no one who could escape "The Call" once it was "heard". She increases its strength again.

    The candles flicker wildly, casting dangerous looking shapes on the walls. The smoke from the incense roils furiously out of the censor into the air. The mourners reach a frenzied state. Success! The Empress is unable to resist any longer.

Guest Alien Log: L'Asaha

Title: More Questions Than Answers: The Call to Mourn, Part Seven

Location: Sandokhan Alpha Base
Setting: At entrance the Holy Catacombs

    L'Asaha enters the Holy Catacombs first. Done! The alien woman is broken. She now knows what she was protecting! There was another alien!!! A man...

    She leans in further to the ritual trying to differentiate between the two aliens. The woman's spiritual wounds were very fresh. The man's ran deep. "Good," she thinks. She could use those weaknesses to draw them to her.

    The rest of the mourning party enters with the CMO in tow. Her tricorder, still dangling from her hand, is still recording everything.

    L'Asaha shivers and nods to her deaconess to take over. "Could now be time of the Last Prophecy?" she wonders. She needed to get some answers.

    L'Asaha runs the ancient poem, "The Last Prophecy of Tarrook", through her head.

    She lingers on this part:

"In the darkness, where the dead things grow,
Among the dead, the six trying go
Among the dead, the four dying go
Is taken the one who shines blue. "


    "After I catch the man and woman and compel them to join us, there will be three aliens who will be in the Holy Catacombs," she thinks. (She does not know yet that the CO and Empress are already there and who came with them.) L'Asaha tries to find out what is happening and if there are three more people involved in this to give a count of six. She turns to the alien child that they captured a few days ago. "Tell me about yourself," she asks gently but firmly.

    The CMO is strangely compelled to tell her everything. "I am a Moeban... a doctor, the Chief Medical Officer of the USS Eagle..." she hears herself say as if it was someone else was talking.

    The Priestess reigns in her surprise and smiles. Now she was going to get some more answers and figure this all out! She nods to her deaconess to proceed without her.  Then suddenly ... she feels the woman she was trying to catch disappear and then the man. "What happened???" she wonders. She could not feel them any longer. "Where did they go? How could they get away?" she asks herself.

    "Why are you here?" the high priestess demands from the CMO hoping she might have some answers.

    "I was fleeing the Sandokhans with two small, sick Sandokhan children.  I was trying to help them.  They were both ill.  The youngest was very sick, nearly about to die.  I was trying to save his life...Your people are being poisoned.  I couldn't help him. His sister seemed to believe in a Lady In Blue who would 'save us all,'" the doctor explains.

    "Where is the Lady and what happened? " the priestess asks eagerly.

    "Hiding ... on a ledge ... with the Captain and the children...The youngest was healed ... by the Lady... " the CMO still under the spell of "The Call" continues to answer.

    "Who are the four dying?" L'Asaha asks trying to make sense of this in light of the Prophecy.

    "The Captain ... and the children ... and the Empress..." she lists.

    L'Asaha is both surprised and vindicated. "So the Lady is an Empress!" she thought. That could satisfy the part of the Prophecy that said "product of ancient king and queen".

    L'Asaha of course has no idea yet that the maid was the Empress of all Galadon in disguise. (Zahrina had done this to both protect herself and the peace proceedings. She had lied heavily about her true identity when she was captured to keep her people from paying a ransom or wiping out the Sandokhans. The Empress believed that if the Galadonese people knew what the Sandokhans had done to her and those with her that they'd be out for blood. Her people could easily transfer their hatred of the Tureth and their wishes to eliminate that race on the Sandokhans.)

    "Why are they dying? Take me to them!" L'Asaha both asks and orders.
        
    "They are dying because of a... a... ritual...that they could not complete immediately. They could not rest as we were fleeing and began to die. They had to rest then or die so we came here," she explains. Then LCDR Laleia-Lii still in a trancelike state, begins walking toward the CO, Empress, and children. L'Asaha follows her and thinks hard.

    L'Asaha counted to herself, Lady in Blue, two children, one captain, this doctor makes five". "I count only five where is the other one that was with you?" L'Asaha asks.

    "Other one?" the CMO replies distantly.

    "The other who came to you to this place where our honored dead are?" L'Asaha asks.

    "The AMO?" the CMO says hesitating. There were others on the Eagle that came to the tunnels but not to this place.

    "Yes. Where is she and were their others who came here?" the priestess asks.

    "She was on the ledge where I was...She did not join..." Dr.  Laleia-Lii replies

    "And who else was with you?" she asks, hoping to find that there were only six.

    "No one. There is no one else," the Moeban finishes.

    L'Asaha smiles triumphantly. That was six with four dying! The Prophecy will come true now! The Sandokhans will be saved. She needed to speak with the Lady in Blue immediately. She would ask the doctor about the poison along the way. The Prophecy took precedence over all.



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