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Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Rigel IX, approx. 20 years ago

(Original artwork by Chrislazzer)

The streets were all but empty in the district, it had been another long and weary day for the mining caste. As the distant sunlight dipped behind the towering upper city, an unwelcoming shadowy mist settled across the slums. But it was not the early dark that drove the caste home this night; it was sale day at the Syndicate's stronghold and they had pulled out all the stops to welcome the worst scum and villiany from across the sector.

A far cry from the serene image outside; the stronghold interior was a bustling hive of activity as bidders from systems far and wide gathered to view the Syndicate's latest offerings from the local fesin. They had been promised a fine collection of lodubyaln - or 'life contractors' in the polite common tongue - and the Syndicate did not fail to disappoint.

The girls - all resided to their fate and clad in what could scarcely be described as clothing - huddled in their various pens and waited to see if this was their day. One by one, they were picked out by the hulking guard without incident; each dutifully strutting up to the podium and flaunting themselves accordingly to earn the highest bids. But then the guard came by Marla's pen, and he grinned a wry grin. He tilted his head to the side and looked her over before releasing the bars and dragging her out by force.

"NO! Let her GO gisjacheh!" a fiery youngling virtually screamed at him, spitting venomously in his face as he dragged her protector away. Marla turned back and cradled the girl's cheek gently in her hand, "Ssshh little one, it is my time... don't make him hurt you for me" Her sweet smile had a reasonably soothing effect on the young girl, as she shied away and dropped to the floor - bringing her knees up to her chest and resting her chin there while wrapping her arms around her legs to pull them as tight as she could against her cold body.

The guard threw Marla up to the podium, causing her to stumble slightly on the steps - much to the delighted entertainment of the lively bidders. As she stepped up onto the podium ready to begin her life anew, Marla gave one final glance back to the young girl she had protected and cared for all these years since her mother had been sold off. The guard smiled an evil grin at Marla before turning with a frown to face the child, "Just wait 'til you come of age little Lendaria... I might even keep you for myself" he licks his lips quietly staring the child down, undressing her with his eyes not that much was left to the imagination even in one so young, "bhar, gisjacheh uktas bo urndo korgasant! j'hordak am koledru venari, morakos vyun-pashan!""Low ranking //untranslated profanity//, tentacled beast! Hang on to your thieves honour, the shadow killer will soon bring your death!", the young girl stares coldly up at him with daggers in her eyes and a venomous tone to her already guttural trader's tongue dialgue. The guard's face quickly turned to a heavy frown at being shown such disrespect from a youngling of all people, "Keep that up little Lendaria, and maybe I'll just kill you now" He threatens her in retort, brandishing the dreaded collar remote. Lendaria quickly turned away in a clear huff, burying her face in her still folded knees as she tried to pretend that her one gleaming beacon of salvation had just been ripped away from her.

Meanwhile at the distant border of the system, a Federation starship dropped out of warp, "USS Cairo Captain's Log; Supplemental. We have tracked the Orion Syndicate group responsible for kidnapping my crew members to the Rigel system. Their warp trail leads to the ninth planet; a run down mining district on the southern continent. I can not afford the luxury of waiting for command approval, by then it will be too late. I'm sending in the MACO's to get our people back, no pussy-footing around this time. If command come back and say they don't like it, they can courtmartial my ass, at least my people will be safe. End log."

Marla's bidder had come and gone with his green-skinned prize and the auction had moved forward. Lendaria took little solace in the comfort offered by her cellmates, though nothing could hold back the tears from her eyes as she watched her friend and guardian get dragged away. Then without warning, a loud explosion at the door and the room quickly filled with smoke and phaser fire. Lendaria ducked to the floor and shut her eyes tight, holding her hands over her ears as the chaos ensued throughout the room. Moments felt like hours, seconds passed like days as the young girl lay trembling on the floor with nothing but the throbbing of her own heart echoing through her mind, "uktas bo urndo... uktas bo urndo..." "Blasters and book-keeps... blasters and book-keeps" She murmered to herself over and over again in her now trembling little voice

The MACO's stormed the auction house with tactical precision and attained a total surprise flank on the unsuspecting Syndicate. Quickly dispatching all who did not flee, they made short work of their opposition who were in complete disarray. As the smoke cleared and stray slaves scrambled off in all directions, the MACO's gradually worked their way through the pens to find all their lost comrades. Having secured the area and finding that the desperate resistance from the Syndicate operatives had resulted in a number of injuries, the squad called down a medical team to help the civilians and tend the wounded. The medic's poured through what they saw only as a massacre of the innocent in disgust; waving tricorders and tending all they found with injury.

Doctor Denton was in shock at the sight which befell her eyes upon beaming down. She knew their MACO's had not directly caused so many innocent deaths and that it was the fire from the Syndicate which had mowed so many down, but still she could not shake the feeling of the weight of their responsibility for had they not stormed the building then surely many of those who now lay at her feet would still be alive. She worked desperately through pens searching for lost colleagues and civilians in need of treatment, focusing entirely on the task at hand and apporaching the scene as clinically as she could. Then her tricorder chirrupped... lifesigns! She narrowed her search to a slave pen where she found several Orion slave girls all laying dead on the floor. Confirming her readings one last time she began to gently pull the green-skinned beauties apart, checking each for lifesigns as she did. It was then that she saw her... the young girl cuddled up in a ball underneath the bodies, trembling in fear with her eyes squeezed shut and her hands clasped over her ears. The Doctor felt a tear roll down her cheek as she looked down at the child - in that moment feeling all the woes this young Orion's life had known and culminated in this... being buried under the bodies of her sisters-in-kind. She gently reached forward and placed a reassuring hand on the girls shoulder, to which she instanly recoiled and tried to scramble backwards."Ssshhh.... It's okay sweetie, I'm not going to hurt you" She offered with the most sincere face possible whilst tentatively offering a hand to the girl, "gisjacheh, GISJACHECH! uktas bo urndo... uktas bo urndo, GISJACHECH!" The child flailed hysterically and the Doctor had to call a MACO over to restrain her so she could be sedated. As the child gently succumbed to the sedative, Denton cradled her in her arms and gently brushed her hair back from her cheek. "Don't worry little one... I won't let anybody hurt you ever again" she whispered gently to the unconcious child.


Kelterre Sector, Stardate 92791.3

The USS Gainsborough has followed Taulan's breadcrumb trail to an asteroid field. Whilst battling the mysterious power failures throughout the ship, their attention is held by an anomalous reading buried deep between the asteroids. As their investigation progressed, they discovered it was the wreck of the Federation starship - USS Cairo - and Captain Lazard promptly dispatched Lieutenant Commander Leveson-Scott and her away team to investigate the ghost ship and retrieve it's logs.

"The Cairo's logs were recovered and await decryption to determine the fate of her crew. Let it be stated for the record, that desperate timed called for desperate measures and the Cairo's remains were sacrificed to save thousands of lives aboard the Gainsborough - I can think of no more fitting testimonial to the memory of that ship and those who once served on board her." ~ LTCD Leveson-Scott, official incident report


Deep Space 13, present day

"I can't believe it's actually happenin'... I'm-a finally here..." Lendaria grinned happily looking around her new lab having not only seen the acceptance of her transfer request to the station - but immediate assignment to the task which held the greatest importance to her. She entered the lab area and picked up the PADD, "Such a small thing" she mused looking the thing over. At first glance it was exactly like all the other thousands of PADD's around the place. But this one was special, it was the most iimportant PADD in the known universe as far as the young Orion woman was concerned. In her hand she held the locked away answers as to the fate of Dr. Denton - her adopted mother - and the USS Cairo. This PADD now contained all that was left of the family she grew into adulthood with. The family who had taken her in during her darkest hour and welcomed her as one of their own. This was more than a quest for personal closure after 12 years of not knowing; this was about bringing peace to the memory of her adopted family and all the others like herself who had been left with a cold and empty void inside them where the memory of loved ones once filled. "Don't you worry momma, is my turn now t'look after you" She spoke... seemingly to the PADD, as she laid it down and began the upload. It would be a long and arduous task to safely recover the data; but it was worth every moment, every second, every hour... and every day.