Maraht's Story

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Maraht Post #1[edit]

Mission: All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray

Stardate: 2407.02.04

(Deep Space - Cabin of the Shuttle Magellan - Ensign Maraht - 1400)

Day 1

Maraht was enthralled with seeing the stars at warp speed from deep space and never seemed to tire of peering out of the starboard view window of the shuttle. He had dreamed of getting this close to the stars ever since he had gotten interested in old Samuel's stories about traveling in space. He could feel the warp engines throbbing with power as they sped between the stars.

He was so glad to finally graduate from the Academy. He had somehow managed to prove to all those doubting stalks that a Horta could serve and contribute to the Service. ~Just because I am closer to the ground doesn't mean I can't serve somewhere in the Fleet,~ thought Maraht as he peered out of the small round window with his longer phalange. ~In fact, most of those doubting stalks seemed to think that the only thing I could do was be in Security, until I proved them wrong. Security might have been Ok since an immovable salivating Horta was pretty intimidating to many of the younger stalks, but I know I will be happier in the Science Department. Just because I am rocky in body does not mean I am less agile of mind. And Mama was so proud to know that I graduated with honors!~

"Well, we are makin' good time Mr. Maraht," said Lt. James Montgomery in his brogue. "We aught to have you and these extra supplies to the Geneva space station in another five days. To what ship have you been assigned?" asked the tall lanky human pilot, coming back into the passenger area of the cabin. "Don't worry. I have the shuttle on autopilot right now and everythin’ is pretty clear sailin’ out here." He sat down on the seat opposite from Maraht.

Maraht had squeezed himself as close to the small round window in the cabin as he could in spite of the passenger seat which faced out into the cabin underneath it. He politely pulled in his phalange, coiling it away underneath him and rumbled himself reluctantly away from the window. "I have been assigned to the USS Mystique, an Akira class ship. I am told they are heavily armed, but small and very fast. What else can you tell me about it?"

The shuttle pilot smiled and said, "Ah the Mystique!" He nodded his head. "She's a neat quick little ship all right and got a right good crew aboard her. I know she has a cloaking device and some of the firepower had to be sacrificed to make room for it. She's not as heavily armed as some of the other Akira class ships, but she has a lot of strategic advantage as a ship's cloak is not standard issue for an Akira."

They talked for a while about different ships and their classes, maneuverability, armament and firepower. Lt. Montgomery knew an extensive amount about the 52nd Fleet. But he had been piloting supplies to the Geneva Space Station for about a standard year now.

"Mr. Maraht, I'm going to get something to eat. Could you keep an eye out of the cockpit for me?"

Eagerly Maraht said, "I sure would! I was hoping to get a look out the front cockpit window, but I didn't want to be in the way. I have been trained in shuttle basics, but I'm afraid I am no great gravel as a pilot. I only know how to fly in a straight line and slow and speed up. I'll start watch right now! “ Maraht rumbled quickly up to the front view window in front of the pilot's seat and got as close as he could in spite of the two chairs bolted to the floor. James Montgomery watched curiously as Maraht extended his phalange above his rocky body up to the controls and higher towards the viewing window. He shook his head in amazement that nature could equip an obviously intelligent living creature with such a strange form.

~Incredible!~ thought Montgomery . ~Such an eager young mind in such a strange body. I think I like him. At least this particular milk run won’t be so borin’. Wait til I tell the fellas on the Geneva about this Starfleet graduate!~ He shook his head, bemused. He stood up, stretched his tall lanky form and went aft to get a meal.

Day 5

On the fifth day out from the Academy, the subspace communications equipment crackled to life. =/\=Shuttle Magellan, this is Geneva Space Station. Do you read us?=/\=

Lt. Montgomery answered promptly, “This is Shuttle Magellan. We read you loud and clear, Geneva.”

-/\- We have orders for you to divert course to an unexplored region of the Beta sector to rendezvous with the USS Mystique. It will add some time for your trip, but you should be able to reprovision with supplies from the Mystique if you need it. Then come back to deliver your cargo to Geneva PDQ. We’re sending the coordinates in a scrambled electronic burst. -/\-

“Copy that Geneva. Got the new coordinates. See you when I get back on the return trip. And say ahoy to my buddy Charlie Rhondell for me. I’m lookin’ forward to that drink he owes me. Montgomery signed out. He sighed and looked down and over to Maraht. “Sorry Maraht, I know you were looking forward to seeing Geneva , but we’ve been diverted to meet the Mystique directly. I guess that might be good news for you though. You’ll be getting there sooner.” He smiled.

“I had to go to Starbase 32 for testing prior to getting in the Academy, so I have seen a facility like that before,” Maraht said cheerfully. “Nobody was sure that there was a way that a Horta could be in Starfleet, and they had no idea if a being structured physiologically as I am could function on board a humanoid based vessel but I overturned their rocks on it.” Maraht swayed his long phalange in front of him in a way that the shuttle pilot had come to know was indicative of laughter.

“And it seems, from my studies, that many star bases are much the same, each with an engine or power room, drinking and socializing common area, a section for businesses and shops for trade, various computer systems, shields, some type of weaponry and so on. The design and layout differ depending on who built it and when. But the basic ideas are much the same. They all stay in the same places they are constructed in."

"Ships can so widely differ in structure, layout, size, crew complement and speed, but most importantly, in destination," continued Maraht. “It’s one reason why I decided to ask for a posting on board a ship. I found myself more fascinated by the ships coming and going at Starbase 32 than the station itself. I couldn’t help imagining what strange new worlds those ships could be going to and what their crews have seen. If you stay on board a space station, you don’t get to explore the universe for yourself because the view never changes!”

Maraht waved his longer phalange again in good humor. “I might as well have stayed in my own tunnel! I wanted to get out there to explore and experience the universe for myself. What wonders and terrors exist out there to be discovered?”

“Besides,” said Maraht, “It is truly amazing to me that such stalky graceful creatures as yourselves would build ships to travel between the stars out of such rich Horta delicacies as metal! Compare it to flying about in a carved out giant apple, cucumber or loaf of bread or any of your other foods. It’s funny when you think about it that way, isn’t it?”

Maraht waved his phalange again while James Montgomery threw back his head and laughed. “I never thought about it that way before, but yes, I suppose that could be true. There’s often something out there that can eat you if it’s big or hungry enough, but I think the most dangerous are the ones with two legs!”

After waving his phalange again in humorous agreement, Maraht said, “You know what the Vulcan motto about life in space is, don’t you? IDIC. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I would have to say that we Hortas are proof of that ideology.”

“Yes,” agreed Montgomery, smiling. “You certainly are!”

Time passed pleasantly for the two alone in the tiny shuttle in the vastness of space.

Day 7

By the middle of the seventh day the officers had gotten to know each other fairly well. Maraht had more of his many hundreds of questions answered about human culture and mannerisms, while James Montgomery learned more than he ever dreamed about the Horta species.

~Imagine their surprise on Geneva when I tell them, “From under what rock did you crawl out?” is a popular Horta pickup line! Who’d a thunk it?~ chuckled Montgomery to himself.

“We’re about to drop out of warp at the coordinates, Lt. Montgomery.” The stars stopped streaming past and Maraht felt the warp engines quiet down.

“We are heading to the fourth planet in this solar system. That scrambled burst Geneva sent indicated it was a Class M planet in a solar system of six planets. Look, there they are! And it looks like they are towing another Akira ship!” said the shuttle pilot.

The ship was framed against the swirling colors of the planet below. “Oh Lieutenant, she is a lovely ship! She looks so sleek and graceful. But it looks as though she’s seen some action. Look at those cargo doors. They look crumpled. How will we dock?” asked Maraht.

“I don’t know, Ensign. We better hail them. Would you like to hail them yourself?”

“I would be delighted Mr. Montgomery,” said Maraht with a small crisp snap of the tip of his phalange. He reached up to the communications console and deftly tapped buttons. “Calling USS Mystique, this is the Shuttle Magellan. Calling USS Mystique, this is the Shuttle Magellan. Come in Mystique.”

(Reply CO, FO, CONN, Any)

(Posted by Sheila)

Maraht Visits Sickbay[edit]

Mission: In the Hands of an Angry God

Day 13

Stardate: 2407.03.19

(USS Hades – Sickbay – Asst CSO Ensign Maraht – 1226)

Maraht hurried down to the Main Sickbay with the commbadge and his tricorder as quickly as possible. He hoped what they had found would shed some light on the pebbles, and give more clues about how to restore Lt. Bosshard and the others to their normal selves. He rumbled through the doors and into Sickbay.

Finding Doctor Gralen, he made his way to him. He waited to get the elder stalk’s attention. “Dr. Gralen, sir,” said Maraht.

(Reply Holis Gralen)

“Here is the commbadge that was with the body. Ensign Trinin said you would need it, sir. I also took quite a few tricorder readings of the plant and animal life in the ecosystem that has developed in the Hydroponics Bay . Some of it was predatory and anyone going in there should wear protective gear, a sealed suit, and be armed with phaser rifles. If anything from there escapes, the potential exists that it could be dangerous to the ship and crew.” Maraht had both articles in his phalange and handed them to Dr. Gralen.

(Reply Holis Gralen)

“I hope both of them help, sir. May I visit for a short time with Ensign Cynthia Darson and Lt. Hanspeter Bosshard?” requested Maraht. “If they are sleeping, I can leave. They may need their rest.”

(Reply Holis Gralen)

“Yes sir,” said Maraht. He rumbled quietly over to Ensign Darson’s biobed. “Hello Ensign Darson,” he said softly. “It is Ensign Maraht the Horta. I came to visit with you for a short time.”

(Reply Cynthia Darson)

Maraht listened, and gently took her green skinned hand with his main phalange, wrapping the end of his main phalange around it, cradling it carefully. “It will be all right. Have courage. We are all working very hard to find how to reverse this.”

(Reply Cynthia Darson)

“Among the Horta there is a story. The Great Lava, the Shaper of All Things, worked to create beings and places with farsighted wisdom. The Great Designer created so much with such great burning love and fervor that it was necessary to eventually retreat to rest after such an outpouring of work. So the handiwork was created to last for a long time to achieve the desired results that would eventually reflect that same great love and passion for life.”

“You, Cynthia Darson, have that same spark and zeal for life that all living sentient creatures share. Where there is life, there is need. Where there is need, there is hope. You are intelligent, strong and courageous. We all care very much what happens to you. Do not give up hope.”

(Reply Cynthia Darson)

“I must go to see Lt. Bosshard now. He was understandably upset when I found him in his quarters. I will come to visit you again, if you like.”

(Reply Cynthia Darson)

With a final gentle tug on her hand, Maraht left her to look for the Lieutenant.

Maraht detected what he knew to be a gurgling moan and recognized Lt. Hanspeter Bosshard. He was in a large tub of water across the way from Ensign Darson. He sloshed about in the water and sat up, gripping the edges of the tub with sucker encrusted tentacles. Seeing he was awake, Maraht approached him.

“Hello Lt. Bosshard. It is Ensign Maraht the Horta. Do you remember me? I found you in your cabin.”

The bulging watery eyes looked at Maraht. “Yesssss, I remember oo fum bufore." His tentacle tip again poked at his misshapen face and chin. “I missss my beard. No more beard.” The unblinking fish like eyes stared with glassy sorrow at Maraht as the misshapen mouth struggled to speak.

“I see,” said Maraht. He lightly rested his main phalange tip on a thicker part of a tentacle with care. “We are working to help restore you and all the others. We will not stop until we find a way to reverse this.”

“Hoord what oo said. Abut love, life.” The Lieutenant struggled to speak and leaned closer to the Horta. “Won' give up,” he assured Maraht. “Not if oo don’t.”

Maraht, moved by the bravery of the mutated officer, gave his tentacle a gentle squeeze. “You too have great courage and intelligence. Keep hope alive burning inside you and allow it to impel you to survive and you will.” He curled his phalange back under him and said, “Rest and gather your strength. You will get through this. I must go now, but I will come back to see you again.”

(Reply Cynthia Darson, Holis Gralen)

(Posted by Sheila)

Maraht at the Wedding of Travis Keswick and Vren Marto[edit]

Mission: Port of Call

Day: 5

Stardate: 2407.02.21

(USS Mystique – Deck 6, Primary Cargo Bay – Asst CSO Ensign Maraht - 1329)

Maraht followed what he saw many beings doing; congratulating the happy couple on the official proclamation of the start of their mated life. He also saw others getting something to eat form the food table.

Maraht considered and decided to do both. He wanted to check on his favorite dip and make sure that no one decided to throw it out as spoiled or inedible. Crude oil was one of his favorite flavorings and was a special rich rare treat. He rumbled over to the food table and reached up with his main phalange to pick up an old used data solid to dunk in his dip. Without getting it anywhere he carefully pulled it underneath himself and oh it was so tasty! He was proud as he didn’t make any drips. Carefully exuding only the tiniest bits of acid he ate small bits at a time. Eating in small amounts this way had him making a hissing noise as the treat was more slowly dissolved, but he hoped no one would notice his indiscretion.

After having a tasty bit of his favorite treat and cleaning himself up of any leftover dribbles with a specially treated napkin from one of the catering staff, Maraht went to greet Travis Keswick and his favorite Doctor.

Maraht reached up and began to shake Travis Keswicks hand by wrapping his main phalange around Travis’s hand and wrist. “I learned this with humans in the Academy. I likened it to pumping water out of a well,” said Maraht merrily. “How do you like being mated so far?”

(Reply Travis Keswick)

Maraht let go of Travis Keswick’s hand and waved his main phalange in proper humorous fashion. He went on to greet the good doctor.

“Dr. Vren Marto!” said Maraht. “You are the best doctor in Sickbay, and it is always a pleasure to see you. Congratulations on your joining with the mate of your choice,” said Maraht happily.

(Reply Dr. Keswick)

“Oh I understand. I hope you like your gifts from me and Physioc. That was why we went onto the Starbase and Physioc got hurt when we got attacked by that mob; we had to go shopping while we had the chance. I had never been shopping before, you see.” Maraht reached up and gently wrapped his main phalange around Marto’s hand. “You deserve to be happy. May you have many hatchings.”

(Reply Dr. Keswick)

Maraht gave a final gentle squeeze to the doctor’s hand and turned to go back to have some more of that tasty dip. Between him and the food table was a Bajoran group of stalks; obviously the Vren family. Maraht courteously tucked his larger phalange under him and greeted each one, commenting on how wonderful it was to meet them. Maraht remembered Vren Dora, the only male of the group from the stag ritual party the evening prior, and made sure to warmly greet him. They all seemed very polite, though a little surprised at meeting Maraht.

On his way back toward the food table, Maraht passed a few of the Klingons. They seemed uncomfortable. Maraht paused thoughtfully. ~I wonder if I could make them feel more at home.~ He had an idea.

Rumbling up to T’gokh with his main phalange sternly curled under him to keep it from showing his glee, Maraht firmly planted himself in front of the Klingon. He waited quietly until he was noticed.

(Reply T’gokh)

“I am aware you have not felt as…comfortable aboard the Mystique as you would on your own ship. Would you or any of your fellow Klingons might enjoy a workout with me on one of the holodecks? That is… if you think you can survive it…?”

(Reply T’gokh)

“Most humanoids would run in fear after glimpsing one of my holodeck workout programs. I am speaking of bubbling lakes of hot lava, burning pools of acid, the stench of poisonous gases, the ground spouting hot sudden geyers of water and steam, all stalked by insidious strong creatures who I fight with no weapons. I use only what I was hatched with… although if you think you need a blade of some sort… I suppose you might bring one.” Maraht made a noise that he knew conveyed contempt for such unnecessary burdens.

(Reply T’gokh)

(Posted by Sheila)

Maraht's Calisthenics Program[edit]

Mission: Port of Call

Day 5

Stardate: 2407.02.21

(USS Mystique – Holodeck 1 - Asst CSO Ensign Maraht - 1939

The doors to the holodeck swooshed opened letting out a blast of heat. Maraht let it wash over him; it felt so good. Too bad the Klingons were not allowed to stay to work out with him.

Wistfully he looked around the transformed holodeck. With nostalgia he studied the bubbling pools of acid sending up great clouds of noxious gases, the lava lake nearby popping and belching and the other hot lake off in the distance surrounding a distant churning volcano, the sudden startling music of hot geysers that swirled and gushed nearby, and the sizzling spires of rock that occasionally cracked and tumbled about him. The red colored sun in the sky cast everything in a blood tinged light.

Maraht was like any of his species, normally peaceful. But with the Federation at war with itself, he felt it necessary to challenge himself and keep on his tactical ‘toes’ as much as possible. So periodically he would do a more strenuous workout such as this one. No single workout of his was ever the same.

For now all was quiet. But that was about to change. “Computer level two, Maraht program beta gamma one. Start program.”

In the distance there was a roar. Maraht scurried around and began tunneling near the base of an exceptionally large thick rock spire. Within seconds he was through the crust and under the rocky spire waiting quietly.

The ground shook. A great monstrous reptilian creature with a large body and powerful hind legs and tail, huge jaws and teeth, beady cunning eyes, and tiny front forelegs came crashing through past the rocky spires. It stopped and was quiet, sniffing the air suspiciously.

Maraht was able to detect where it was and when it stopped. He burrowed quickly and carefully. The spire vibrated and small chunks rattled off its sides. Maraht stopped listening. The great creature roared and came closer, seeing movement. Maraht continued tunneling under the base and just before the spire came down he burrowed out of the way in time. The spire went crashing right into the beast’s great head and cracked its skull. It went down with a thunderous roar and pulled down some of the more fragile rock spires with it.

For a moment, the quiet returned. Then a great snarling cry came from the sky. Maraht came up from the below ground and sat in the tunnel mouth. A large flying creature sailed up above on great leathery wings and was followed by three more. It had a long beakish snout with fangs, scaly looking skin and two powerful back legs for gripping and tearing prey. The fingerlike talons in the middle of its wing ridges were useful for pinning down anything living, before tearing it to shreds with its razor-sharp teeth.

All four of the creatures descended on the great slain beast and began voraciously tearing it to shreds to feed. Maraht waited for them to become sated and quietly backed down his tunnel. He began to burrow again, and tunneled in the direction of the large dead carcass, deep underground. He began to criss cross underneath the enormous dead creature only about 10 feet below the surface to weaken the ground below it. It wasn’t long before the body crashed through the ground to the pit below that Maraht had created. The creatures started up in fright, but were not about to leave such a feast. They settled to feeding once again.

Maraht was about to grab one of the flapping leathery creatures from the side wall of the pit to pull it into a tunnel and trap it, but halted. The ground began vibrating in an enormous earthquake. The rocky earth around him convulsed like a living thing and a crack opened up near the dead carcass. Maraht scurried out to the top of the ground in order to preserve his rocky carapace by staying away from any possible lava flows. Though he could tolerate great heat, he did not push the holodeck safeties to their limits and opted to steer clear of any of the melted flowing rock. The flying reptiles ignored the earthquake and kept feeding, tearing out great chunks of ichoric meat.

Sure enough the lava began to pour out and headed for the pit Maraht had created as the lowest point. It cascaded over the edge and fell on the dead carcass and the greedy flying reptiles. They hardly had time to snarl or cry out before the lava covered them in a glowing hot red and orange hissing pool. Maraht left them to their fate and journey deeper into the hostile world.

NRPG: Perhaps this is the real reason why the dinosaurs died out. There could have been Hortas around at the time......!

(Reply none or any IYW)

(Posted by Sheila)

Maraht at the Hades Launch Party meeting a Special Friend[edit]

Mission: Port of Call

Day 12

Stardate 2407.02.28

(USS Hades - Largest Holodeck – Asst CSO Ensign Maraht - 1903)

Ranae just joined Maraht again when there was an unmistakable rumbling sound. Ranae gave her friend a poke as another Horta moved across the floor towards them.

Maraht turned in surprise; and was stunned. He could barely move and didn’t even twitch a single phalange.

An absolutely beautiful Horta was coming toward him. She too was adorned with sparkling jewels that flashed in the light as he was, but with the addition of a string of pearls that accentuated her thicker lovely extra fine fringe. She was reddish with flecks of black and white granite. Maraht thought she was the most lovely Horta he had ever seen.

As the female Horta reached them, Ranae introduced her to Maraht.

"Maraht, meet Oona, she's a gift from me to you. You can come to any holodeck whenever you get homesick, and ask for the RumblesOne program and you'll find yourself back on, or rather in, Janus VI, and Oona will be there for company if you want her."

Ranae smiled at Maraht and gave Maraht an affectionate slap. Maraht hardly felt it and was only peripherally aware of the rest of the beings in the room. He was so surprised and with all the excitement over the bomb hunt, Physioc getting hurt and wedding rituals that he had forgotten how homesick he had been before getting to know the crewmembers.

He struggled to get some words out through his astonishment. “Ranae, will she be able to be stay for the whole launch party? Can she come to my quarters or must she stay on the holodeck? I can take pictures of her to send home to Venerable Mother, can’t I?” Maraht knew he was beginning to babble idiotically, but he didn’t care.

(Reply Ammon Ranae)

Maraht, noticing that Oona had no vox, hesitantly approached Oona. Extending his main phalange, he gently touched her reddish carapace. She uncoiled her main phalange and touched him back. Using their own native language of electrical impulses that flashed back and forth between them, Maraht could literally see her matrix grow more complex as he told her all about his life. She told him what little she knew about being a Horta. Maraht began to fill her in on many of the finer points about his home and what Hortas do and how they speak. Her matrix changed, growing more fully realized and more beautiful every nanosecond.

As their main phalangi gently caressed and twined in a gentle dance between them, he told her all the details that had been passed down to him of how the Federation had found Janus, the great and wise Spock, the Venerable Mother with no way to speak to the miners and forced to defend herself and her eggs, and of the Chamber of the Ages containing the Vault of Tomorrow. He told her all about his wish to explore the universe, of joining Starfleet, and of the need to protect the Federation planets and their home of Janus from the depredations of Doenitz. He told her of the stories of the first Horta who began the Way of Truth and her great compassion and love. He told her many of the stories that had been recorded and carved onto the tunnels and caves of his home planet.

After all this he paused. “Welcome to being a Horta, Oona. I wish you long life and many hatchings. Let us find you something to eat.”

(Reply Any)

(Posted by Sheila)

Maraht Gets Mad[edit]

Mission: In the Hands of an Angry God

Day: 13

Stardate 2407.03.19

(USS Hades, Phlegathon – Deck 5, Corridor - ACSO Ensign Maraht, Subaltern Na'Goresh'Niman - 1825)

Maraht moved swiftly down the corridor on silent phalangi tip. He peeked his main phalange tip around each corner, and finally came to the aft quadrant near section 9 to the Phlegathon's Engineering. These were extra large enemy, or at least to Maraht they seemed extra large, outside of Engineering and they appeared to be on guard. The patrol that he had decimated a few minutes ago hadn't been very quiet.

Pulling back behind the corner, Maraht sent another silent message to Security and the Bridge. "Bridge and Phlegathon Security, this is Ensign Maraht. I am in section 8 on Deck 5, spying down the corridor. This group of enemy may be tougher. Their armor looks more heavily powered than the last group that I…..uh…..ran over. I would prefer to engage this group with help from our Security. If they could be on the other end of the corridor, we could catch them between us and probably stop them."

-/\-Understood, Maraht. Proceed with caution,-/\- Baylon's voice responded.

Niman was monitoring the situation with growing irritation. They had finally breached the outer bulkheads only to discover a barrier field blocking any further attempt at entry. As a pair of his men worked to bypass the field by cutting out the emitters, Niman was monitoring the progress of the remainder of his force.

A group of Marines had been wiped out by a living rock and Niman wondered if the report that he had received was accurate or simply the delusional description of a wounded soldiers. He didn't have very long to wait before the truth became apparent.

"Subaltern, I am detecting a silicon based lifeform just ahead and around the corner," one of the Immortals reported.

"Are you certain?" he asked. While he knew such a species could theoretically evolve, in all their battles and conquests they had never encountered a silicon based life form.

"As certain as I can be, sir. The scanners indicate it highly likely that the readings I am receiving are constructed along a coherent silicon and metal structure and should be theoretically capable of producing and sustaining biochemical life."

Niman found the answer ambiguous at best, but accepted it for what was meant; I think so.

"Set your weapons to maximum yield," he ordered the Immortals over the encrypted commchannel. Then did so himself.

Down the hallway around the corner, Maraht was doing his own preparations, using the Phlegathon's scrambled and encoded channel, again on silent mode. "Ensign Harrod, I am down section 8 aft quadrant deck 5. Can you sneak down here and position yourself down the corridor from me without them hearing you?"

-/\-Yes, I can Ensign Maraht. I am here with Ensign T'Vall. We are very close to your position. We have the heavier phaser rifles.-/\-

"Good," sent back Maraht silently. "I think you are going to need them. This bunch looks more heavily armed. This group's armor has some electronic components. Expect the unexpected. Remember to shoot higher if I am engaging the enemy."

In only a few seconds, Maraht's vox silently received the signal that they were in position. "Start shooting!" he sent. At the same time he charged for the invaders.

As before time seemed to slow. After having had practice at dodging weapons fire, Maraht found he was getting better at it. Pain was a swift, though merciless teacher. Dodging back and forth through the wide corridor, Maraht shot with his own phaser until he could work his way close enough to engage them. When he got closer, he would discard the phaser in favor of his own personal style of combat.

Oddly, his phaser was having little effect on this group, but it made for an interesting distraction. When his phaser blasts hit them, as they made no effort to move, they glowed with a light around them. ~Personal armor shields!~ The more powerful phaser rifles had to be draining the power supply packs on them. He could see the power slowly beginning to wain. "Keep shooting!" shouted Maraht, not bothering with stealth now. He danced back and forth and kept shooting occassionally for those smug faces and shot more for the floor under their feet. If they were going to keep standing there, he was determined to make it hot.

Ensigns Harrod and T'Val had the same thought and began to melt the floor beneath the invaders feet with weapons fire as well.

Niman recognized the danger immediately. His tactical coordinator had been so focused on the silicon life form that he had failed to notice the other enemy troops move into firing positions.

When the firing started, he had been worried at first. But the shields of the combat armor absorbed the blasts with little difficulty. His own barrier shield shimmered in a rainbow of color as an enemy weapons blast struck his chest plate.

He raised his weapon and prepared to fire, when suddenly a blob-like creature rounded the corridor ahead of his assault team and charged his men.

He shifted his aim and fired, but watched in amazement as the creature slipped sideways in the wide hall and his shot missed.

The creature must have become aware that his weapons were ineffective against the suits barrier shields as he suddenly shifted his fire to the floor. Niman recognized the danger immediately as the floor began to glow.

"Spread out! Concentrate your fire on the silicon lifeform!" he ordered.

Contrary to his own orders however, he accessed the targeting subroutine for the suit and selected the explosive projectiles option for his weapon.

He took aim down the length of the corridor and fired three short blasts from the weapon, launching three magnetically contained plasma charges into the enemy firing position.

The first round exploded, ripping a hole in the wall of the inner corridor. Niman knew the tactic was dangerous since he did not know the volatility of the equipment in the areas adjacent to the corridor. The second and third plasma charge went off and the firing from the heavy phased enemy riflemen stopped.

But by that time, the silicon lifeform was among the front rank of his men wreaking havoc. The immortals, while no strangers to hand to hand combat with the enemy, found themselves dealing with a creature that did not have the body structures that their training had told them to exploit.

There were no eyes, limbs, genitals or head to speak of. It was a rock with no discernable weakness. There was nothing to indicate where he should fire, so Niman selected the only discernable structure that the creature had: A mechanical device attached to its surface.

He lowered his weapon and fired at the device that he assumed kept the silicon creature a slave to its master race. The device exploded in a shower of molten metal and shrapnel, but the creature did not pause for a single instant.

~Perhaps the creature was fighting on its own behalf.~

"Pound your armored fists into the top of its body," he commanded, then watched as his Immortals complied.

Agony tore through Maraht when his vox exploded. Fully incensed with loathing and disgust at such contemptible creatures, Maraht moved even faster, knocking down and acidifying as quickly as possible with a terribly cold detachment. He worked, even in his struggles, to get to the one whose insignia and person the others were guarding.

From behind Maraht came more weapons fire that looked like phaser blasts from their own security forces. They were aiming higher in an effort to not hit Maraht. Maraht kept up his attack. When the enemy forces mistakenly thought they could hurt him by pummeling him, he grimly laughed to himself and whipped around more corrosive acid, redoubling his efforts to decimate their forces. He shifted and danced, raising and leaping with a ferocity and speed of which even he had not known he was capable. ~They will NOT take my ship! They WILL be stopped here!~ raged Maraht in relentless fortitude.

The corridor was awash with smoldering acid and steaming piles from Maraht's deadly embrace. Immune to his own acid, he slid in it, using it to increase his speed, crushing a helmeted head here and smashing a limb there, all the while hearing the screams from his prey when his rush of acid dissolved and melted as he performed his toxic ballet.

He could see their power packs for their armor of those still standing, steadily draining away and hoped the Phlegathon's security forces would keep up their attack. At least half were now left upright. More weapons fire came from the other end of the corridor, distracting them as Maraht did his grisly work, further draining the enemy's personal force shields. He jumped and shifted, watching with care how they shot and moved, ramming, crushing and exuding his terrible kiss of death.

Niman was amazed that a rock could cause such mayhem. The creature slammed against his armored immortals with a vigor that could only be described as bloodlust. His men fell under the mass of the beast and acid washed over them. Their barrier shields failed under the mass of the creature and once that happened the acid quickly burned its way through the hardened Tritanium/Duranium alloy.

The Immortals died screaming as the acid dripped through the newly formed gaps in their armor and dissolved their flesh. Niman was appalled.

He backpedaled until his barrier shield made contact with the force field beyond the door that his men had already cut through.

There was a sudden pop, as the forcefields interacted and the field that had been blocking the doors a moment ago was suddenly gone. His own barrier field was significantly drained but intact.

"Fall back through the hatch," he ordered then led the way.

He knew better than to hope that the enemy wouldn't have troops on the other side of the door. As he turned, his barrier shield shimmered as a series of bright phased energy bursts struck him.

He cleared the entry door to allow more of his men through. He turned his weapon at one of the aliens and smiled in glee as he fired. The smaller unarmored creature flew backwards as the gravitons flash boiled his cells. He died instantly.

Half of his remaining force managed to enter into the engineering compartment and began to return fire against the compartments defenders. The other half was trapped by the continued attack of the silicon life form.

Niman made a decision. He'd have no choice but to sacrifice the portion of his bodyguard that did not nor could not respond to his order quickly enough.

He activated a graviton mine and placed it on the inside of the hatch. He stepped away from it and watch as the device armed itself, its personal barrier shield springing to life to protect it against ranged attack.

-/\-Subaltern, we will begin transporting you and your men back to the Bloody Gauntlet at once,-/\= his suit communications device buzzed.

A moment later, he and his men, alive and dead, were once again on the assault deck of the Bloody Gauntlet.

Though Maraht saw the enemy retreat through to Engineering, he knew he could not stop or these genocidal killers might kill or kidnap more of his fellow crew members. So he kept up his assault on the boarding party, in an effort to do as much damage as possible. There were too many in the way as he tried to fight his way through to Engineering, so he resorted to running them over like a small rocky armored tank. Abruptly to his surprise, he saw them all disappear. ~They retreated?~ he thought dazed with exertion and no small amount of triumph.

Then the graviton mine exploded. The deafening blast grabbed him and slammed him into the bulkhead, just outside Engineering. He smashed into the crumpling wall and left a sizeable dent. He both heard and felt the sickening crack as his carapace hit, smashing off several sizeable chunks. The blast dropped him upright, though it left him stunned.

It became very dark and blessedly quiet.

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Maraht and the Klingons[edit]

(IKS DoQ'boS - Galley - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 1035)

"I have programming chips and a small replicator I have brought with me for purposes of making my own food. I am more than capable of hooking it up to a power emitter in your galley. Allow me to do so." Maraht, knowing he had to be firm and could show no fear, rumbled closer to the outraged Klingon that was taking his turn as cook in the galley.

The Klingon's lip curled, and Maraht detected many sharp teeth and even a few fangs sticking out of the Klingon's mouth. "Who let you in here?!" he roared, and Maraht, turning up the volume on his Vox, roared right back, "Your commanding officer told me to come down here! If you have any arguments, take it up with him!"

The Klingon bent down toward Maraht and hissed, "I will see to it that your body parts are flung into the nearest star after I drill out core samples from your hide if I find that you are lying."

Giving a flip of the tip of his main phalange even though most of it was wrapped around the replicator unit, Maraht snapped back, "That will be difficult for you to do if I have already melted your carcass down to sludge and eaten you. Go and complain to your captain if you have any objections. In the meantime, get out of my way!"

The Klingons eyes narrowed and he growled. Then he turned and stalked out of the galley kitchen.

Maraht nearly dropped the replicator unit in relief, but didn't. He wasn't too sure if any other Klingon stalks would come in wanting to pound him into powder, but he had learned well how to deal with Klingons. Firm decisiveness and an aggressive stance seemed to go a long way with this variety of stalks.

Maraht worked carefully within the galley and he soon had some granite materializing. He repeatedly brought the small chunks into the eating area of the mess hall and dumped them into the large dish he had set up in a corner. Right now, there was no one in the mess area at the moment. The Klingon Bird of Prey was a small ship and he was sure that someone would stride in soon.

~Sure enough, speak of the magma.~ A Klingon female strode in and gaped at the Horta. Maraht ignored her and she, suddenly aware that her mouth was open, busied herself with getting some bloodwine in a tankard from a nearby keg on a shelf. Maraht noted that she kept staring at him as much as possible even as she did so.

After piling up enough granite chunks in his low edged eating dish, Maraht climbed on the top of the pile and ate his meal, with much satisfactory hissing as the rock melted under the onslaught of his digestive acid. He carefully and neatly used his hair-like fringe to sweep up any uneaten bits and pieces and wiped up any leftover acid in his dish.

The expression on the Klingon woman's face was worth its weight in a mountain of gold pressed latinum and pergium. It was an odd combination of surprise, consternation and outright fear. She was sitting at the galley table as far away from him as was possible.

Maraht knew he walked a fine tightrope with his presence on this ship. He knew the strange aggressive stalks had to be fearful enough to leave him alone but not fearful enough to view him as a threat to their immediate existence. So he decided he should see if he could get her to talk to him. He knew she would spread it around the crew that he was not a danger to the ship if he could convince her. After all, a small ship made for a small crew. ~Let's see what will happen.~

Maraht rumbled out of his eating dish and pushed it into the corner out of the way. He moved to the middle of the room and faced the speaker grill toward the Klingon. "Greetings, I am Lt. Maraht. Your captain has agreed to give me a ride across the quadrant, now that the Federation Civil War has ended. I am normally assigned to the USS Hades, but I have been granted leave. You would be?"

The Klingon woman's eyes widened and she hastily raised her tankard to her lips and drank. Putting it down on the table in front of her, she said, "I am 2nd Engineer Ba'raD." She stared openly at Maraht now. "Just what in the name of Kahless are you?"

"I am a Horta. My species are a silicon based life form, proud members of the Federation and the greatest natural miners the universe has ever seen. As far as I know, I am the only Horta in Starfleet." Maraht was justifiably proud of his race and felt no need to pretend otherwise.

"A rock that talks," muttered the Klingon. ~It's probably filthy and carries diseases crawling around like that.~ "Did I just see a bunch of stones?"

Maraht replied, "My corrosive digestive acid that I exude dissolves the stones for immediate ingestion, yes."

Ba'raD's eyes widened in horror as she absorbed the implications of that. "Don't worry, I am civilized. I won't eat your ship or anyone that behaves themselves," Maraht said, hoping to prevent a panic among the crew. "I am a decorated Lieutenant, having been in several battles, some of them hand to to hand. I would not be allowed on any starship of the Federation if I was thought to be untrustworthy or have bad manners. I know better than any pebble to not drool."

Ba'raD's mouth dropped open, and grabbing her tankard she downed the rest in a single large swig. Having fortified herself with some liquid courage, she said, "You don't even have eyes. How in the name of Kahless can you see?"

Before Maraht could answer, the door opened into the mess hall. The commanding officer of the DoQ'boS, Commander Duk'char stepped in. Glancing around the room and taking note, his eyes found Maraht. "You are ready? You have eaten?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. I am ready to be shown around your fine ship. I have been looking forward to it," replied Maraht. "I will talk to you later, Engineer Ba'raD." He rumbled his way out, following the tall stalky Klingon.

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(IKS DoQ'boS - Corridor - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 1045)

Commander Duk'char gestured toward the Engineering room. "That is our Engine Room, but we do not let visitors in it for security purposes."

"I understand completely. We do the same on our ship with visitors," said Maraht.

"Come!" Duk'char pointed down the corridor. "We go to the bridge."

"Yes, sir," said Maraht respectfully. As they went to the small lift, Maraht could not stop his curiosity. "Have you seen many battles in this ship? How long have you been assigned to the DoQ'boS?"

Stepping into the turbolift and squeezing over for Maraht, the Commander stared at the Horta with surprise and suspicion. "Curiosity could get you killed, Starfleet officer. Be careful what you ask."

Maraht answered, "I am merely surprised at the design efficiency of this vessel. What it might lack in spaciousness, it more than makes up for in speed and agility. It could easily run rings around many ships I have seen. You must be very proud."

Duk'char raised both eyebrows and studying the Horta, he nodded. "Yes, I am proud of this ship. We have been through many battles together. I could tell you great stories of our times here."

The turbolift doors opened, allowing them onto the dark cramped bridge. From the viewscreen it looked as if they were already at warp speed. "I have read about the history and development of the mek'leth and the bat'leth. I thought it was fascinating. Klingon weaponry has a much more colorful history than the development of phaser weapons."

Astonished, Duk'char's eyes widened and he nodded. The bridge crew on duty turned and stared at their captain with his unlikely companion. "Get back to your work!" Duk'char snapped to his crew. "Status?" he asked a shorter heavily muscled Klingon as he sat down in the center seat. Maraht assumed that this must be Commander Duk'char's first officer or the Klingon equivalent.

"Everything is going well. The minor repairs have been finished, but we are still low on food stores," was the answer.

"Maybe we can pick up some meat soon. I am tired of dead gahg myself. I would like to have fresher food." Maraht thought he detected agreement from the other bridge officers, though they said little.

The ship shook and bucked abruptly. "What was that? Did someone fire on us?" snapped out Duk'char.

"No Commander. Our engines are overheating," spoke up another of the Klingons peering into a screen. Turning to the Commander he said, "Engineering reports that one of the magnetic bottles is in danger of failing."

"What!" shouted the commander. "We cannot have survived such a glorious battle with our allies of the 52nd Fleet to die from malfunction now. Shut down the engines."

The first officer spoke up. "The damage might have been minute and undetectable until we went to warp speed."

Maraht felt it was time that he spoke up. "Sir, I may be able to help with repairs."

Commander Duk'char and his first officer looked at Maraht with no small amount of distrust. "How could you possibly help repair a warp engine? You are a talking rock!" sneered the burly Klingon first officer. He turned to Duk'char and said, "This is little more than a trained animal."

Commander Duk'char held up his hand to forestall the Klingon from continuing. "I doubt this Starfleet officer wishes to die. If we don't trust it to help us, then we will die and it will not be in battle. If we do trust it, then we might live to eat some fresh meat and see home again. I would like to live to tell the tales of our recent victories."

Duk'char turned back to Maraht. "Go to Engineering and repair the malfunction. I am sure we have limited time. Martoq will accompany you."

"Yes sir," said Maraht.

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(IKS DoQ'boS - Engine Room - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 1050)

It wasn't long before Maraht and First Officer Martoq were moving through the doors to Engineering. The light was dim and red warning lights were flicking on and off. A countdown was in progress. There appeared to be only three engineers at work. Two were struggling to stabilize the magnetic bottles manually. Another had his head inside a conduit.

"Is there a tool kit around?" asked Maraht. ~That would help.~ Martoq barked an order and somebody brought them a tool kit and handed it uncertainly to Martoq. ~Great Lava!~ Maraht's main phalange snaked out and plucked it from the Klingon's hand.

"Shut that blinking light down and turn down the volume on your noisemakers. We already know there's a problem." Martoq glared at the engineering staff and snarled another order. It became much quieter.

Maraht asked Martoq, "Can your warp core be ejected in case of an imminent breach?"

Maroq scowled. "Yes, but then we would have to be rescued. There is little honor in being dragged home by tractor beam."

"All right then," said Maraht. "Let's see what we can do." The Horta rumbled his way through the cramped engine room, Martoq following. He started pulling off consoles covers as he went, looking diligently for the problem. In doing so, he detected a few variances and some shorts in the electrical systems. "Alright, here is one end of the problem," said Maraht. "You have a cascade failure starting in your injector coils. See here," and Maraht rumbled over to one open console, to illustrate with his main phalange, "You have a very small short here that is causing an imbalance in your antimatter/matter mix. The uneven mix is causing more thermal dispersal than it should, putting more stress on your articulation frame. Now I am no engineer, but even as a science officer, I can tell that the stress is causing your second magnetic bottle to flux."

An engineer, scanner in hand, ran over to Martoq and began talking to him in low tones. The First Officer listened and then his eyes widened. In astonishment he said, "My engineers say that you are telling the truth."

Impatiently Maraht flicked his phalange tip at him and said, "Of course I am." He began pulling tools out of the kit. "I can create a stable bypass around the short and that should begin to help with the problem." He stopped and pointed a spanner with his phalange toward an engineer he recognized. "2nd Engineer Ba'raD, I want your assistance. I want you to use your scanner to check for any fluctuating variances in this system. It will help to have another person watching and giving me feedback to coordinate my efforts. I want those magenetic bottles to be closely monitored."

The Klingon engineering staff looked irritated and were fuming. Maraht turned up the volume on his Vox and roared at them. "Now! I want this all done now! Get moving or we could all be marooned here! Do you want to be stranded in space with me for weeks or months? Or go home with your tails tucked between your legs? *Get going!*"

Martoq shoved the engineer still standing next to him and they all jumped into action. Maraht worked quickly, with Ba'raD feeding him the variance fluctuations. It wasn't long before they had the bypass in place.

"Magnetic bottle stabilizing, Commander Martoq," reported an engineer. Maroq looked for himself at the screen the engineer indicated and nodded. "Yes, we can go to warp again?" His bushy eyebrows quivered with distaste at the Horta.

"Given that there are no more problems, you should have your warp drive functioning again," said Maraht. "I suggest you have your crew run some diagnostics of your systems, though, just to be sure. There could still be some minuscule damage from the battle that has not been detected that could affect the stability."

The Klingon engineers look ready to murder Maraht again. "I mean no disrespect, and I am sure you are good engineers or you would not have survived. This same thing could happen on my own vessel, the Hades. Entropy exists. Materials wear out and parts break down. It happens," snapped Maraht. "Deal with it."

"Get back to your duties," Martoq ordered them and turning to Maraht he said simply, "Come." He stalked out of the engine room, Maraht close behind.

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(IKS DoQ'boS - Bridge - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 1120)

Commander Duk'char stared at the Horta with no small amount of astonishment. "Martoq tells me that you were successful in fixing the problem with our warp drive. How could a one such as you be able to fix an engine problem?"

Maraht, containing his amusement merely said, "I have had good teachers, and good Captains. It doesn't hurt a bit that I am a Horta. We are a talented race."

The expression on the Martoq's face conveyed disbelief. Duk'char's bushy eyebrows trembled with amazement. "Well you certainly have your uses," said the Commander grudgingly.

"You are curious?" asked Maraht. "I have many things I can tell you. Why not come to the galley with me and over a tankard of bloodwine you can hear it all," offered Maraht.

The Klingon commander nodded and stood. He said, "I would like to hear your story. And I want to know how you became a Starfleet Officer. We shall celebrate with a toast to our victory."

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Maraht at home on Janus IV[edit]

(Janus IV - Mining Colony - Samuel's Quarters - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 1700)

"I had thought, Samuel, that we were going to be destroyed and I would be nothing more than some rock dust," said Maraht. "But the Great Lava had other things in store for me. I survived that terrible battle and I am on leave now. I have come home to visit. I hope to have some long talks with Venerable Mother. There is much to discuss."

The old man, sitting on the creaking wooden rocking chair, smiled and chortled. "I know that you came through a lot. We heard only bits and pieces here. But as long as we kept up the quotas and maintained the workload, the powers that be saw fit to leave us alone." The muddy brown eyes twinkled at Maraht. "You think the Great Lava had anything to do with that?"

"It could be so," answered Maraht. "There are powers at work at which we can only guess." The old man cackled and patted Maraht fondly. Muttering and chuckling, he soon fell asleep, his head nodding. "How long has he been like this?" asked Maraht softly. "He seems so shrunken down and wizened." The Venerable Mother stirred, and touching her main phalange to his, told him that the beginning of illness in Old Samuel had occurred not long after Maraht had left Janus IV. The medic, strong and vital with youth, stepped in the door. "He needs to rest and you should leave now. He had a good visit with you but he tires easily. It won't be long now. I shall let you know as soon as there are any changes in his condition."

"Yes, I shall and thank you. I appreciate you taking such good care of him," said Maraht. His phalange clasped briefly around the medic's hand and then he and Venerable Mother rumbled through the door and down the tunnel.

The Mother indicated that she would like to speak with Maraht in the Chamber of the Ages. Obediently Maraht followed, happy to be in her presence after being away for so long. Together they meandered through the tunnels descending level after level, occasionally meeting a miner and other Horta.

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Stardate: 2407.09.02

(Janus IV - Mining Colony - Chamber of the Ages - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 1730)

Touching her phalange to his, the Venerable Mother told Maraht that she wanted to know all that had happened to him. She wished him to inscribe it on a new wall in the Chamber of the Ages. Maraht, awed that such an honor be accorded to him, humbly agreed.

"It will take some time to inscribe. There is a lot to tell. I had better get started." Maraht respectfully curled up his main phalange. Briefly touching her phalange to his carapace, she bid him goodbye for now as she had other children to attend.

Starting at one end of a long stretch of wall in a newly hollowed out section of the Chamber, Maraht carefully exuded acid and in graphic relief carved out the story of his trip to the Starbase, his time at the Academy, his assignment to the USS Mystique and then the Hades. He described in detail his part in the battle of Beta Seranis, the death of Captain Saleke, the rescue of Baylon Trinin, and the terrible fight to rid the Federation of Doenitz. There was so much he had to tell that he was captivated for hours, until a beep on his Vox alerted him.

The voice of the medic startled him. "Maraht, there has been a change in Samuel's condition. You should come at once."

Maraht acknowledged and immediately left. Finding the nearest Horta in the tunnel outside the Chamber, he told her to fetch Venerable Mother and to request her to come to Old Samuel's quarters.

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(Janus IV - Mining Colony - Samuel's Quarters - ACSO Lt. Maraht - 2300)

Maraht and the Mother arrived at Samuel's quarters. He lay on the bed, not far from his beloved rocking chair. His breathing had become noisy and he muttered. The medic was standing at one side of the bed. Maraht moved to the other.

Extending his main phalange, Maraht tenderly touched Samuel's wrinkled forehead. The muddy brown eyes opened and he dreamily stared at Maraht. He whispered, "My heart's not working well...too many strokes. I wish that I could live longer to see things get better..not gonna happen."

Sadly, Maraht held the wrinkled old callused hand with great affection. "You inspired me so. I have helped make things better because of you and Venerable Mother. I will always remember you, Samuel. The great deeds you have done for the Horta will not be forgotten. They will be carved on the walls of the Chamber of the Ages."

Samuel smiled a little and then the light went out of his eyes. His raspy breath struggled and then stopped. The hand Maraht held went limp.

Beloved Old Samuel was gone.

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