Post Spotlight – Stranger on the Shore (Obsidian Command)

Written ByCalliope
Published On

A great collaboration between three writers, who worked together to reveal, through light touches, the existence of a lost UFP Marshal whom no one knew about. Through the tenacity of Chief Deputy Marshal Steiner and the somewhat reluctant cooperation of Major Wallace and CPO Xeri, the mysterious officer’s life is brought to the fore, with the use of an immersive flashback, coloured by Bajoran culture.

(As this post is of significant length, consisting of multiple scenes, we’ve selected an excerpt scene below. To read the entire post, please follow the title link to the sim’s nova site!)

Steiner: Camp Sunrise -Stranger on the shore

Posted on 23 Jul 2023 @ 11:17pm by Chief Deputy Marshal: Ridge Steiner – FMS & Major Porter Wallace & Chief Petty Officer Ibis Xeri

Mission: M3 – Into the Deep


.: [Flashback – Camp Sunrise] :.

Laura scratched the mark for another day into the calendar they’d etched on the wall of the clinic. Seasons didn’t work the same here. And the Korinn day seemed longer than average to Laura. And, indeed, it was. A few of the others with advanced degrees had found means of nature to measure time by, with help from some of the Korin slaves with time pieces, the aid of some universal constants of some sort, and a number of figures worked out in the sand, they had a conversion rate and a general star date. The working theory was that the tally of Korinn days up until this point put them at roughly five years since internment. Eventually, if they were rescued, they’d get to check all their math on that.

Laura also kept a few markings on dried kelp, stored under the workbench in baskets. It was her effort at trying to keep a record of who had been sick and when. She was closing most of their files. Four had recovered. One dead. One… she wasn’t completely sure. Ibis had been in a complete fugue and Laura couldn’t keep up her care any more with everything else.

Her young daughter, Olivia, was on the clinic floor playing with some shells. It was strange, how the children seemed to be able to have lives like that. As if there was nothing out of the ordinary for them. Laura walked to the front stoop of the clinic. Ibis was usually around the clinic every day to talk with her, play with Olivia, and work on restocking the preparations they used. But she was sick now. Maybe even gravely ill. It had been a week since Ibis had even seemed conscious. The fever wouldn’t break and the usually tenacious little dark-haired woman was disconcertingly unable to break her fever and chills and the dissociation from her senses that had set in over her. She’d quake and moan and chatter, her eyes rolled back leaving mostly the whites in a scary look at times as she coping with the muscle pain and seizures. But she wasn’t exactly present. Any time the pains would subside she would fall asleep in exhaustion before it would begin again. Ibis was going to be lucky a million times over if she didn’t already have damage to the brain from encephalitis.

When Laura reported that Ibis’ condition was likely not going to end well, Wallace himself had gone to the sick shack to claim her. Laura wasn’t stupid. Those two loved each other. They had always been love sick for each other, even before the Sunrise had crashed. It was only the two of them acting like they didn’t know it. On the ship it had been an entertaining drama for anyone clued into it. But for the years they continued their self-made charade in the Camp it was one of the hardest things Laura had to watch. She missed Matt everyday. Without a picture to help, she spent a lot of time trying to remember his face. She’d try to imagine his voice, recalling when he’d tease and goad her and banter. She wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single one of their days together.

Wallace, she had thought that day as he clutched Ibis to himself and carried her away, was just realizing he might have missed his chance. Normally he was around keeping everyone honest with their chores and labor rotations, counting heads and keeping the perimeter watch manned. But since he’d taken Ibis home with him, Jimoh had been sitting in the command center of the camp, manning the fires with baby Ikemba strapped to his back. Jimoh was a very different man himself since Rachel’s death. They were all changed, Laura knew. She was just at a loss for what to do about it. Acceptance and grief… But strangely she never felt truly hopeless. She had to survive, she knew, so Olivia could grow up. And that was just that. She was too stubborn to allow reason to argue with her decision on the matter. Besides. She was the only treating doctor in the camp. For all the good it was doing them. Even her closest friend was trying to die on her now.

Laura took a tin cup and walked towards the fire, intending to beg some hot water to make up a tea to take to Ibis.

“Jimoh—” She started to say.

But she was interrupted. There was a strange, distant whine in the sky that drew Laura’s attention. She looked up and shielded her eyes from the sun, trying to make it out.

Jimoh shot up to standing. Despite the sudden motion, Ikemba continued to doze in the backpack-like contraption he and one of the last engineers had sewn together from kelp and seaweed a few weeks ago. “That’s a ship,” he said spotting a rapidly descending craft to the south, “but not one of those slaver ships.” He never referred to the Z’ala by anything other than ‘slavers,’ as if he could shame them into turning on the Pyrryx.

He whistled loudly, a piercing sound that even the Irix seemed impressed by when he did it around them. A head popped out of the door of one of the nearby shacks. Mikel, a bartender-turned-security-officer asked what was going on. “Go let the Major know, we’ve got company. Laura, better get everyone inside just in case. Please, take Ikemba with you.”

Turning so that she could lift the child out of the pack, Jimoh heard the sound suddenly increase in pitch and saw the ship vanish behind a dune. It must be hovering just on the other side of that tall dune, Jimoh thought. Just as he felt Ikemba’s weight disappear the craft shot straight up and toward the sky. “What the heck? Just dropping by to say hello?”

Laura’s head jerked as she traced the shuttle into the air. It was too much of a blur for her to identify it. The brief hope that it might have been a rescue died before she’d had much chance to think it. She hurried towards the clinic with the baby, calling for Kahler. The Flaxian woman was within earshot where she had been threshing some oats and ran to her in response.

“Watch the children,” Laura said, pushing Ikemba into Kahler’s arms and motioning to where Olivia was playing.

Uncertain if it would be needed, her doctor’s impulse still came to the fore, and Laura quickly wrapped up some supplies in a tied off square of kelp cloth, serving as the closest she could form for a medical kit, and then ran after Jimoh. She came over the dune in time to see Jimoh inspecting someone.

The figure laying on the ground appeared Humanoid and male; it was hard to tell much at first as its head was covered with a grubby and stained brown hood, possibly sackcloth. The figure lay slumped in the sand where he had fallen, not moving after being dragged off the aircraft’s ramp. The only sign of life was his labored breathing, a shallow gasping that ruffled the material of the hood. Besides the hood the only other clothing he wore was the tattered remains of some kind of uniform pants, mostly black. The pants were torn, ripped and stained. He was shoeless, his feet were covered in dirt but not enough to cover the bruising and dried blood.

The figure’s naked torso was covered in bruises, some fresh dark blue ones, others older and turned yellow. There were numerous, cuts, welts and what looked like burn marks. Rows of round red sores, some in lines, some randomly placed, some had scabbed over, others look more recent.

One arm, the right was outstretched, the other under the body; the right hand was like the feet, bruised and bloodstained, where there had once been fingernails there were now just scabs and puss. The wrist was encircled with a wide band of torn and smeared skin, where some kind of restraint had been in place, and there were similar marks around both ankles.

A thick putrid smell rolled off the figure, sweat, blood, infection, cut with a sharper odor of urine and feces.

“Iye mwẹn! Did they get another one of our starships?” Jimoh exclaimed, putting the back of his hand to his nose to ward off the stench.

Even Laura was repulsed. But not more than she was deeply pained for this obviously tortured man. “He looks like he’s been brutalized for weeks, if not longer!” It was hard to tell with the injuries and bruises compiled. She tried to find a spot on his body that wasn’t a sore, in order to try and turn him a little and evaluate the rest of him, while Jimoh reached to remove the hood—

At the first touch the figure jerked, recoiling, trying to squirm away in the sand. The right arm came up protectively towards its hooded head and a thin wavering cry of fear came from within the hood, cut short by a racking heaving cough as the figure struggled to pull its left arm free. He curled up in a near fetal position—one hand over his head, the other hugging himself by the knees— and lay there, on the left side, trembling, panting and sobbing.

The side, and what could now be seen of the figure’s chest, was similarly marked like the back. Cuts, some fresh, some older, numerous welts and a dark spread of bruises over the left rib cage. There was more, a series of lines had been cut, almost carved into the chest, there were many of them forming some kind of complex shape, but not all could be seen due to the figure’s position.

Laura continued to mentally catalog the injuries. “Good grief. Some of these are infected. He’s been carved up like a halloween pumpkin.”

“Hold on man, we are trying to help.” Jimoh managed to snatch the hood even as the man writhed away.

As the hood came off the sobbing and panting increased. The figure curled up tighter, and he pushed his head down towards its chest, both arms wrapped around his knees, rocking and mumbling incoherently. The face was still hidden, but the rest of the head was visible, the severely cropped blonde hair did nothing to cover the multiple scars and dried blood. Part of one ear, the right, had been cut away in an almost surgical slice, although the open wound oozed with infection. The shorn hair blended into thick matching blonde stubble down the sideburn. Around the back and side of the neck was a mark like those on the wrists and ankles, it circled down under the chin.

Laura could tell the man had been tied with restraints a long time. They’d cut into him everywhere and worn him raw. Her heart was breaking. She was honestly not sure where to begin, but she started with speaking gently and trying to daub some of the puss from his wounds with a plant fiber swab and some alcohol, keenly aware that it was going to burn. When she touched him, he recoiled and she looked to Jimoh, uncertain what to do without holding him down to be treated.

The figure sobbed louder, then slowly lifted its head, the nose was broken and split, there were traces of nasal ridges, which Laura atfirst mistook to be scabbed over cuts before she realized he was Bajoran and the ridges were just caked with blood which had pooled and dried in them. Both his eyes were blackened, the left one swollen shut; there were cuts on both cheeks, almost like small puncture wounds, in an oval pattern, dozens of them overlapping, these continued over the cut, cracked and torn lips. The remnants of shattered and broken teeth flickered between the lips as they sucked in and expelled air. The right eye flashed open, blood shot and fearful, a wild, unfocused gaze, that saw nothing, then shut again in the bright sunlight.

The figure moaned in terror, “Jalda Jalda Jalda… please…Ah’no balchi… Jalda.. please… I’m sorry.. I don’t know! Please” He curled up tighter, rocking back and forth, whispering to itself “Jia’kaja, tre’nu’tol’a rem… La’por i’lanu kos… I’nar tan’a’tali nor…”

Mikel came up from behind them, out of breath. Mostly skin and bones now, he’d once been a portly middle-aged man and still moved like it. Upon seeing the man lying in the sand, he immediately began retching.

“It sounds like Bajoran,” Jimoh told Laura.

“It is!” Mikel had retreated several yards and was looking everywhere, but the man. “I worked on Bajor after the war. In a brothel. A nice one. Classy. Heard a lot of Bajoran there. I never learned much myself, but Riya’s a Bajoran. I mean, you already knew that, of course.”

Riya and Wallace had been apprenticing with N’to to work on small machinery. She’d been glad to find something to do, quantum physicists were not in much demand on the island.

“Where is she now?” Jimoh asked.

“There was some work up at the complex. She and N’to have been up around the ‘cano all day. Should be back any minute I suspect.”

“Mikel, come, help us move him to the Clinic…” Laura said sadly. She was already preparing herself for the idea that they would have to hold him down just to treat his wounds. But there was nothing for it. Although there were a few numbing herbals she could try, she had no anesthesia or medications to relax him or take away the pain. “He’s going to struggle, but I don’t think he has much strength left in him.”

“No way in hell! I’m not going to—”

“Mikel!” Jimoh repeated. “Get over here!”

Mikel was slow to make any move towards the disturbing sight but Jimoh barked again for him to come, now. It had been years being on the island and the old chain of command was nothing like it used to be, but there was still something of a force of law among them. Jimoh answered faithfully to Wallace, and if Mikal gave Jimoh a hard time, he knew Wallace would hear of it, making his own miserable life less pleasant than it already was. The thought was sufficiently motivating for Mikel to shuffle his way closer. He dry heaved at the smell before he could manage to touch the mangled figure, getting under one of his arms while Jimoh raised the Bajoran between them under the other arm.

As the man was lifted, he twisted and tried to pull his arms away, a wild incoherent cry of fear left his ruined lips, spittle and blood flew, his eyes stared wide and fearful at those holding him. Looking without comprehension, his eyes were focused not on them but on whatever nightmare vision he was seeing in his mind. He tried to struggle, but within seconds the resistance left his limbs, his head dropped to his chest and he sagged, trudging forward now without resistance. The defeated compliance of a broken man.

He sobbed quietly, repeating the same few words over and over “Jia’kaja, tre’nu’tol’a rem… Oh Prophets do not forsake me… La’por i’lanu kos…. Protect me from this torment I beg of thee… I’nar tan’a’tali nor.”

As he stumbled forward his bare feet left bloody marks in the sand, with his arms held out to his sides the marks on his chest were more visible. The many bruises, fresh and older, were marked with cuts and burns, over his heart was a larger burn, a star shape, five pointed, with an encircling band. There was some kind of lettering or characters within the burn, but it was smudged and partly scarred over. Over the star-shaped burn there was a series of geometric cuts, fresher, still red, they were in a sort of octagonal shape, like a square with rounded off corners. The shape was repeated within the outermost cuts, it looked almost like gemstone or a spider’s web.

Led to the building the figure collapsed onto the makeshift table, chest heaving as he panted and murmured his prayer over and over, eyes tightly closed, rocking his body gently back and forth.

Quickly, Laura moved to collect what supplies she thought she could use, setting up on the worktable. She wished very much for Ibis’ help, but it was not going to be had. “Hang in there, Mister,” she said. “Let’s see what we can do for you.”