All Ahead Full

This Section of the Mission Features the Following NPCs:
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Unable to feel at ease about asking someone to do something he not yet tried, Javier found himself outside of Crewman Pierce's quarters. A security officer stood watch over the door. It was one of the Klingon brothers, Javier couldn't distinguish them apart so he greeted the Klingon with a generic "Qa'pla" before informing the officer of his desire to speak with BHP. The Klingon grunted and stood aside so the Chief Engineer could enter. After passing through the doors Javier found that the room was a wreck. PADDS and books lay strewn about the area. One bed was unmade and old food containers were piled on the desk. Clothes hung on anything with a corner. The sounds of singing and the splash of water came from the direction of the bathroom, alerting Javier as to Pierce's whereabouts.

Hearing attuned to the sounds of the ship and her engines, the engineer detected a low humming noise in the room. He nudged some of the detritus aside so he could cross over to the console. It was dark. As it should be, he's not supposed to have any outside contact. But the low hum came from beneath the desk. Javier reached under the desk and was rewarded with the discovery of a piece of technology. He brought forth the tricorder, disengaging the wires that attached it to the ship's computer and bypassed the security lockdown on the console.

The Chief Engineer sighed and glanced at the information on the tricorder. It had been performing a data retrieval search from SFHQ's Records Department. The tricorder was high tech and didn't come from the Constitution. Scott's Ghost, he is stealing information. He's been using us as a cover. Javier thought as he felt his ire rise.

The sound of water ceased and Pierce exited the lavatory toweling off his hair. He stopped dead-still as his eyes took in Ensign Costala holding the tricorder.

"I trusted you," Javier said, his tone cold. "I went to the captain on your behalf."

"Chief I.."

"What's on here?" Costala inquired as he held up the tricorder. "Fleet codes? The identities of agents? Tactical data? What kind of information are you selling?"

BHP muttered something about getting caught holding the bag again. "It isn't anything like that Chief. I was looking for some information about…about JAG proceedings. I thought I could get a headstart.."

"Save it Pierce!" Costala said in a tone of cold fury, "You've already violated the terms of your incarceration by having the tricorder linked to the system." He felt like flinging the tricorder to the deck and shattering the offending piece of technology. "You're lucky you aren't back at the barracks or you would be on your way to a prison sentence. How did a person like you even make it into the marines.."

BHP's eyes hardened. "I guess they liked the fact that I didn't have any reservations about killing large numbers of people," he replied, his tone holding an edge.

Javier called the Klingon security officer into the room and showed him the tricorder and told him about what Pierce had been involved in. "I suggest you keep him under constant guard. Mr. Pierce has shown an unwillingness to co-operate with us. I want you to cuff him too," Javier added, "until we reach the Outpost he needs to be physically restrained."

"Sir, I wanted you..," Pierce started to reply but Javier left the room without a second glance in the crewman's direction. In the corridor the engineer passed by T'Shaini and Jenny Anderson.

"I was wrong about him," was all Javier said before stalking off to find Lt. Tenanji and update him on what had transpired. He squeezed the tricorder tightly, almost wishing he could crush the device, and with it, the proof of Benjamin Hyde Pierce's betrayal.

Originally Posted 5-17-2008 by Javier Costala


"Jenny, there is no need…" Sighing, T'Shaini began to sprint, she had told Usher she would stay with Anderson and in order to keep up with her hurried pace it looked as if a sprint was in order. Rounding the corner she had to skid to a stop to avoid knocking Jenny into Rak'h…he has a guard?

"Jenny Anderson," Rak'h greeted his fellow security officer, solemnly, "Counselor…"

"I need to speak to Pierce," Jenny said with as much professionalism as she could muster, dressed in sweats and with her hair doing a fair impression of a rat's nest.

Rak'h looked uncertain but…

The counselor jumped in. "We have just received permission from Lieutenant Tenanji, you can confirm with him if you wish."

The Klingon warrior considered the two women… he knew Anderson to be honorable and the Counselor out-ranked him, so, "There is no need," he said. "I cannot allow you to see him, alone, however," he told Jen, "Beyond the original charges, Ensign Costala has given me reason to believe him too dangerous…"

"Oh, come on," Jenny threw her hands up in frustration, "Rak'h, you've seen me train, what do you think…"

"If that is your sole concern I can accompany her…" T'Shaini offered. Dangerous?

"And I guarantee, Lieutenant T'Shaini can kick major butt," Jen threw in.

The beleaguered Klingon hesitated for only a moment before he stood aside, keying open the coded door and allowing the two women to enter. Jen wasted no time and was in the makeshift cell in a heartbeat but what she saw upon entering had her feet tripping to a halt and her heart stuttering in reminiscent fear… BHP, Ben, cuffed and forlorn and just too too much looking as if he were not only ready but willing for the ax to fall.

Putting her hand on the young womans shoulder to steady her, T'Shaini whispered "game face" is that what Javier says… before smiling gently at the engineer. "Clearly you are a dangerous man Benjamin.

"If I had a dime for every time some told me that," BHP started, before kicking at the pile of dirty clothes on the floor, "then I might have enough to make a phone call." He looked up at his visitors. Not the way I would like Jenny to see me, Pierce thought as he looked down at his cuffs, or the counselor for that matter. "It takes two dimes to make a phone call on my homeworld," BHP explained to the two women, trying some light humor on the pair. No one ever gets my jokes. BHP frowned and looked around the room. "Sorry about the mess."

When it became apparent that Jenny was not quite prepared to speak, the counselor cleared away a space on one side of him and sat down. Choosing to acknowledge the 300lb gorilla, T'Shaini lifted up one of his cuffed hands. "What exactly did you do to merit these?"

"These are for bowling a 168 the other night," BHP said as he looked up at Jenny Anderson and smiled. "In some circles that kind of score is considered dangerous."

"Bullshit," Jen kicked at the already abused pile of clothes. "The only thing you've done wrong is help me… you have to know… it's my fault. I got a frigging time out because someone tagged my last data request… tried to put a tracer on the Connie but, Pierce," now she crossed to kneel in front of him, one hand on his knee, "you can't take this accusation lying down… it's too huge… someone out there wants to fry your ass…"

"And here I figured it might have been a hit put out by Kal-El for the Oatmeal Incident," Pierce joked as he avoided talking about the data request. His hands moved back slightly so that his fingers brushed against Jenny's as he moved them. "It isn't your fault; I've been expecting this for a while now, just came sooner than I would have liked." He raised his head and turned just enough away from the counselor so he could mouth the words 'I found something.' to Jenny.

"Why would you be expect…" Jen bit off the question as he jumped a bit and knocked her off-balance, to land briefly in the pile o' filthy laundry. Okay, even she could recognize your average brick when it dropped her on the floor… Sparing a glance at the bemused T'Shaini, Jen hopped to her feet, "What did you find?" she asked, point blank. "And, by the way, Counselor, my boyfriend and I are having serious issues in our relationship, so, you know, I think this counseling session is going need to remain completely confidential…" unless I can use it to clear BHP's initials, anyway. "What do you think?"

"Of course." T'Shaini held each of their eyes in turn. "I can assure you nothing spoken here will leave this room…unless of course you request that I bring some information to someone in authority in order to facilitate the clearing of charges against Benjamin."

"Boyfriend? I don't want to be around when you talk about him..and you..and mostly I don't want to hear about him," BHP said as he looked from one woman to the other. "And please counselor, it's either Ben, Pierce or BHP. Benjamin makes me sound too much like a…lawyer or..a ship's captain."

Jen felt her eyes start to roll but pulled it together and sat down on Pierce's other side before placing her hand over his… cuffs. "Now, dear," she pointed out, each word a stiletto, "don't waste what little time we have together. I'm only allowed thirty minutes and T'Shaini promised to help us out so," she gave his wrists a vigorous shake, "you said you found something - spill it so we can start fixing this CF." And they had to fix it. She wasn't letting him take the fall for something that had been entirely her idea.

"OH." realization hit BHP like anti-matter passing through the warp core. "Okay..counselor, sometimes Jenny doesn't know how to voice her feelings and I think the reason behind it…" BHP caught the look of chagrin and decided to go with what he had discovered. "There was a hit off the Starfleet Records Office, one of the race promoters had a separate file there..the name was.." his face scrunched up in thought, "I don't remember. It's on the tricorder! That the Chief took to security.." His voice sing-songed at the highs and lows.

"Took to security?" Suddenly the pieces of the puzzle fell together. "May we assume…Ben, that Javier found the tricorder and assumed that it was being used for something far more illicit than your" Her gesture included both he and Jenny. "investigation?"

"The Chief thought I was stealing information," Pierce confirmed. "I wanted to set him straight but I thought I would get Fenton in trouble. It was his tricorder, and he showed me how to bypass the security settings." BHP shrugged then turned the cuffs so he trapped Jenny's hand in the metal link between them, then turned them again and freed it just as easily. "He asked me, said he had spoken to the captain, but Fenton's got his whole life ahead of him, doesn't need a bad mark on his record now."

"Like you do?" Jen thwapped him with her newly-freed hand even as she fought down a surge of guilty nausea… Fenton, too? "What did you two think you were doing? Bypassing those settings…" crapcrapcrapcrap… "Okay, okay," she stared down at the wilderness of muck on the floor, "Okay, you found something useful and, fact is, you were looking because I asked you to… that has to count for something. I'll make it…" She looked back at him, shocked by the intensity of his gaze, "I'll make it count. I'll make this stop, I promise…"

"What did we think we were doing? We were helping you," BHP replied, his tone incredulous, "so it didn't work out like we planned, that's no one's fault. Or maybe the Chief's because he has hearing like a bat..you can't fix this." He pulled away from them, rising to his feet to kick some junk out of the way. "Just leave it alone," Pierce said as he sat on the edge of the desk. "I think visitation is over."

"No," Jen automatically followed him across the small space and placed herself in front of him, "and if anyone hasn't noticed by now, this whole mess came out of me not being able to leave something alone."

At that moment the doors slid open and Rak'h peered in, "Lieutenant Tenanji has ordered the visit terminated," he said, though their might have been a note of regret in the trademark growl.

Jen looked over to T'Shaini, "Two minutes… one minute… please?"

Nodding at Jenny T'Shaini crossed to the open door. Blocking the entrance for a moment she looked up to the large security officer's face. "I am concerned that you have not been back to see me about Koll's difficulty…" She said, perhaps a little louder than necessary. A vaguely horrified grunt was the last thing the two heard before the Vulcan was pulled into the hallway and the door quickly slid shut behind her.

"Listen bub," Jen said, poking the seated BHP in the chest, "I don't give a rat's ass what deep dark secrets you think you have, I don't," she emphasized with a particularly vicious prod, "just like I don't intend to just sit around and watch while one more person I care about gets trashed by some scum-sucking bent POS hiding in a Starfleet uniform. You think you brought any of this down on yourself you are delusional…" Words, meet wall… "Okay, you're delusional. But you're just going to have to deal with people helping you." He still said nothing and the silence was getting cold. "And if none of that means squat all to you, then maybe," her breath hitched a bit and she had to look away from him, "maybe it will matter that I don't think I can come back from one more loss… not this soon…"

"That's a lot of talk for the little girl I saw blubbering in the armory the first day I came aboard," Pierce answered, breaking his silence. He wanted Jenny to leave it alone. If they can bring this back on me, there's no telling what they can do to her. he thought. "Maybe you're under the delusion you can actually do something, but you can't, so leave it be." His features hardened as he looked at her. "I don't want your help." There needs to be something more..it needs to hurt. "You can't even help your own godfather, how are you going to help me?" Internally he winced but externally his features were hardened and uncaring.

"…truly there is nothing to worry about, it is a common occurrence that all…" T'Shaini broke off as the door opened and Jenny all but fell into her arms. Holding the broken young woman upright she quickly made her excuses to Rak'h and half carried her down the hallway.

"No, it's okay," Jen pushed away from the comfort the counselor offered, "I mean… I will be." Straightening, she glanced quickly up a T'Shaini's warm eyes and felt she finally understood something, "Remember how Harry got to be all about the job?" she asked, while something unnamed turned inside her, "Not connected, not close to anyone?" At the Vulcan's small nod she turned away, "He was right."

JP featuring T'Shaini refereeing Little Red (JA) and the Big Bad Wolf (BHP)!
Originally Posted 5-19-2008 by Harry Finn


Fenton Boyce walked around in a daze for most of his shift. It was an Eve Kennedy induced state. His answers to the civilian's questions were the typical 'Uh..okay..er yes.' variety that came with the territory of falling for Eve. He was learning the duotronic systems as well as what made Eve laugh, how much she enjoyed her job (he wished Eve would join the Hawking), her current boyfriends (none!), how she missed her family (he wondered if he could somehow get into hug territory while comforting her) and how lucky Fenton was to serve on the Constitution (how lucky he would be to serve 'under' her).

But now his shift was over and Fenton's head was rapidly clearing as he got farther away from Eve. The systems tech in training realized he had it bad and he needed some advice. And I need some clean underwear too. Fenton thought. With these thoughts in mind he made his way to his original quarters, original in the sense that it was where he and BHP had lived until the engineer had been confined to their quarters, and Fenton found himself bunking with Kal-El.

The Klingon was at his usual spot and blocked Fenton's path. "I need to get some clean clothes?!" Boyce said in irritation. "I know you like to wear the same loincloth all winter but some of us don't like to stew in our own juices." The growl in the Klingon's chest elevated in volume. "Okay listen, I only managed to get a few uniforms before being thrown out…can I at least get some spare underwear?"

There seemed to be some universal connection when it came to clean underwear, because after a few seconds of contemplating the request, the Klingon security officer stood aside. "Five minutes." he growled.

"Thanks," the cadet said as he entered the room. It looked as if it had been hit by a class three ion storm or like BHP had several really good parties during the Iotian's incarceration. Ben waved from the desk and it only took a second for Fenton to realize that he was handcuffed.

"What happened to you?" Boyce asked as he scrounged around for clean clothes, trying to straighten up the room as he rifled through the clothing. BHP came over and helped the cadet clean up the mess. While he worked Pierce told Boyce about what had transpired that day.

"You should have just told the Chief it was my tricorder," Fenton said, avoiding the Jenny Anderson topic, he could tell that that particular subject upset BHP enough.

"No dice pal," BHP replied, falling into Iotian lingo, "you got bigger things ahead of you."

"I helped. I wanted to help and even if it was not entirely by the book it was my choice. I'm going to tell the Chief it was mine," Fenton said resolutely.

"Don't be a fat-head Fenton," Pierce retorted. He tossed all his clothes in one pile then began scraping up PADDs with the edge of his shoe.

"Don't act like such a martyr Ben," Boyce shot back, "it's annoying, not only to Jenny but to everyone else concerned. You think you're the only one with bad things in your past. Well take a number pal, I got things in my past that would make your stories seem like a girlscout campfire tale." The cadet gathered up the remaining detritus on the floor which consisted of papers and gum wrappers.

"Is that right?" BHP replied sounding slightly annoyed. "How many hits were put out on you?"

"None, people didn't put out hits on you where I lived. That was too civilized. A gang would track you down and kill you because it was Saturday night and they needed some fun," Fenton said, his tone angry as he stood upright to face Pierce.

"In the Federation," BHP said with a smirk on his face, "you're lying..there's no suc.." A pile-driver of a punch knocked him down to the deck. He looked up at Fenton in disbelief.

"Turkana IV..that's my homeworld," Boyce said fiercely, "that's where my older brother was forced to watch as my father was murdered and my mother and older sister were raped then murdered." Fenton's hands were clenched into fists so tightly his knuckles were white. "Killian, my brother, kept me alive, he looked after me but he was dead, they killed him inside." Tears streamed down Fenton's face. "The gangs would hunt us, like animals, but my brother kept us alive. My brother may have been an asshole, maybe the worst person you ever met and from the way they talk probably everyone here hated him, but he was my hero."

"Fenton..I'm sorry," Ben said apologetically as he rubbed his sore jaw. Of course he had heard the stories about the infamous Killian Boyce. "But what I did was bad..very bad, people died and their deaths were my fault."

"Did you personally shoot them or knife them?" Fenton asked as he wiped his eyes on his uniform sleeve.

"No, but I planned the heist. I thought I had worked out a time when the workers at the depot would be away. It was after-hours..but when we blew the security doors, there were still three people in the depot. They were killed in the blast."

"It was a mistake.."

"Starfleet won't see it that way," Pierce said. "It was their depot."

Featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce and Fenton Boyce
Originally Posted 5-20-2008 by Javier Costala


:: USS Constitution ::
:: First Officer’s Office ::

“…And in closing I think it is utterly imperative that nothing even remotely untoward should happen on the rest of our journey. To you young ne’er-do-wells this ship may be a joke… Or something to be forgotten… But to me it is more. She is noble and her history rivals anything still flying in this galaxy. She deserves respect…” Tears brimmed at the edge of Lady Cutsforth’s eyes. She gently lifted her teacup to her lips and took a long cleansing draught of the hot liquid.

“I’ll do what I can,” Nils said honestly. The fragging of the old shuttle had really rattled the curator of the museum and he couldn’t help but feel mildly sorry for her. The old battleaxe was wearing thin and showing signs of reaching her limits. “And thank you for coming to me with your…issues. The crew is usually more disciplined.” He had a hard time defending the retrieval of the first beacon. They were under orders, it had been poorly placed, and Javi made the decision he thought best at the time… Or something like that. Alternatives were sparse in the heat of the moment.

“Thank you,” Cutsforth said, pulling herself tight across the shoulders and regaining her composure. “I’ll check in at the end of the day to ascertain your progress.”

“Well today I have…” The old lady was already turning to leave. “I can’t promise that…” She didn’t even slow. “I’ll do my best,” he called after her tight grey bun. Things were steadily falling apart. Reports from the senior officer’s across the ship were piling up on his desk. And despite the fact that this mission was supposedly a cakewalk, the crew had managed to stir up plenty of theatrics. The First Officer made a mental note to call Tenanji into his office to discuss his latest report. A self-destructing tracer code always indicated trouble on the horizon.

But first things first…

The second beacon drew closer with each passing moment. The coordinates came early on, even as the slagged shuttlecraft landed in the bay. Only now were the details fully available in the latest data package.

Quote:
Attn: Senior Officers; USS Constitution NCC 1701
From: Starfleet Command; Gamma Quadrant
Re: Megiddo Regatta; Beacon 2; Part 2

You should be nearing the coordinates of your second beacon, and as you’ve no doubt recognized via long range scans, you are heading towards an expansive space station.

Reldaran is a busy trade center built and maintained by the Dosi. These aggressive negotiators are in possession of the second beacon and will not release it to your custody until the crew of the Constitution meets certain and yet unknown requirements. The Dosi are a tribal people, but are not primitive. Remember this in your negotiations. The retrieval of your beacon is only the catalyst to building stronger diplomatic and economic ties with this Gamma Quadrant Power, so representation of the Federation at its best is expected.

The details of the beacon’s transfer will be handled by the Dosi. They will contact you as you approach the station.

Godspeed and good hunting.

The flustered Bajoran shook his head. No doubt the other departments heads were reading the memo at this moment. He wondered if they felt as irritated by it as he did. A diplomatic flyby seemed as pointless as the whole race.

Originally Posted 5-20-2008 by Torrik Nils


He felt as if his brain were beginning to drip out of his ears… how how how could so many members of the crew manage to make such a hash of something as simple as a race?

Well, an ill-timed race, with a new and unfathomable requirement… negotiating for the beacon with the Dosi (he didn't envy whomever received that assignment)… which he himself had taken some quiet steps to investigate. But this… he tossed the tricorder onto the desk and rubbed his hands over his face… Ensign Costala's suspicions notwithstanding, Mr. Pierce's illicit tech had, hydra-like, presented more issues than he, Usher, felt equipped to handle, with his skeleton crew on this antique ship.

Having returned Jenny to her quarters, and been assured that 'it was all good' (not that T'Shaini believed her, but Jenny would speak to her in her own time…or not.) proceeded toward the security office to speak with Lieutenant Tenanji. Most of the time if you pretended something was your business no one dared contradict you, though she had her doubts that that tactic would be foolproof with Usher the Unbudging.

The door sliding open, should have locked that brought him to his feet, "Ah, Counselor," he took an at-ease stance, "I had wondered when you might come to offer your commentary." He gestured to his boxy computer terminal, "I'd already received a rather concise report supporting Crewman Pierce's complete non-complicity in any acts of terror against the Federation from Anderson." Of course, that followed Costala's firm assertion that Pierce was a double-dealing traitor for whom spacing might be too kind but…

"Of which I am certain you have no need for. Benjamin…Ben, clearly has something in his past, what I do not know, but acts of terror?" The Vulcan used her words to cover her casual stroll across the office, resting one leg on the edge of his desk she leaned over to peek at what he had onscreen. Better to ask forgiveness than seek permission in this case I think. "Is this the results from the tricorder….Harry Finn?"

Usher's hand slid over the controls and he blanked out the screen, and his expression. "It's nothing that bears relevance to the current issue," he assured.

"Not this particular issue, but what does 'Harry Finn : Reclassified -S.O. 1-3-Omega mean'?" A small knot of panic began to form in the counselors chest. "Usher, please…"

Before he even considered a response, the Lieutenant crossed the room and initiated the locking mechanism on his office door. Turning back he considered the Vulcan officer and his options, which were few since lying was not a comfortable road for him to take. "S.O. is the prefix for any and all Special Operations designations," he began, finding his gaze shifting from the deepening concern in T'Shaini's eyes and towards the wall over her shoulder, "The first digit being a one indicates the order came from the head of Spec Ops, Admiral Nechayev and, if I recall correctly, the three refers to an operative who has cut ties with their Control… gone rogue, I suppose you'd say."

"Rogue? He resigned…how does that qualify as 'going rogue'?" Then the unworldly figure who came to her aid on the Outpost flashed before T'Shaini's eyes…resigned or no, Harry was continuing after his main objective. "Oh." Rubbing her face as if to force the new knowledge into a place where it could be processed her hands then stilled. "Oh." The knot in her chest grew. "And what do they do with 'rogue operatives'?"

"Ideally they bring them back into the fold. Failing that, there is containment and failing that…"

"Elimination." Her hand pressing at that stupid knot in her chest T'Shaini shook her head in disbelief. "Unacceptable, what can we do?"

"There is nothing we can do," Tenanji heard his own voice and though he regretted the coldness, continued, "Aside from the autonomous nature of Special Operations and the fact that the orders came from an admiral, there is also the unpleasant reality that we should never have seen these files. They were accessed without sanction by Crewman Pierce who, by doing so, only further supports the charges which came down against him." He shook his head once, sharply, "To Finn, at least, we can offer no aid."

Fine, then we will do nothing… "And for Pierce?" T'Shaini pressed her hand over his. "What can be done for him? We know he was accessing the files on Crewman Anderson's behest, this had nothing to do with a plot against the Federation."

"Not by Pierce no," Tenanji breathed easier as they moved on to the next thorny subject. "His search did lead to a detailed file under the aegis of one Vice Admiral Richelieu, who purportedly is one of the sponsors of the race. It contains subfiles referring to the Regatta… innocuous stuff, for the most part… route assignments, estimated times of completion… everything you might expect in a plan for this sort of… event."

"Along with…" For Tenanji to have specified 'not by Pierce' led to the obvious conclusion that there was something else.

"I don't know," frustration ruffled the normally placid features. "That is, there's nothing on the surface to raise concerns… beyond the fact that there is no Vice Admiral Richelieu in Starfleet. There never has been, I checked," he gestured towards his blacked out computer screen. "That alone raises enough red flags for me to justify further investigation but the trace on Anderson's request, followed hard on by the warrant on Pierce… and the warrant is genuine, even if the charges are fiction… and meanwhile Pierce behaves as if the arrest is justified…" Suddenly Usher understood Finn's frequently harried expression in dealing with the Hawking crew.

"He is hiding something, there we are in agreement…but this?" T'Shaini shook her head. "Whatever it is that he is hiding cannot be as potentially threatening as these charges. Have they been made clear to him?"

"As clear as I can possibly make them but, I confess, Counselor, I am stretched to the limit… my department is depleted and on what amounts to a foreign vessel. My priority must remain the safety of the crew throughout this race… extraneous investigations will only tax our resources further." He crossed his arms over his chest as he continued, "I've sent word to Lieutenant Fehr on Hawking, and he is to notify the authorities of the Outpost as to recent events. I cannot pass on what we've learned from that," he nodded towards the tricorder. "If Pierce is to have any hope, at this juncture, it rests in the truth."

"If you wish me to speak with him I can certainly try, I do not know how inclined he would be to speak to me after turning Jenny aside." At least perhaps I may convince he or Fenton to tell Usher who's tricorder it was, as I have promised to keep silent. Aloud she mused. "Perhaps Javier would be willing to speak to them…him."

Usher hissed out a sigh, "At this juncture, I do not believe Ensign Costala to be Pierce's strongest advocate. However, any and all assistance would be welcome… as long as it remains within regulations." Turning back towards the door, his hand hesitated over the lock, "Lieutenant," he brought his serious gaze back to her, "before you go, I must ask that you do not pass on what you learned about Finn to Crewman Anderson…"

Oh gods…Jenny. Knowing he was right did not mean she agreed with it. Pressing her lips together T'Shaini nodded to the no nonsense Tenanji. Pitiful when a human can out Vulcan a Vulcan. "Anything else Lieutenant?"

"No." He opened the door, but, as she passed, placed a tentative hand on her shoulder, "For what it is worth, I am sorry… I… he and I were not friends, but…"

An unreasonable urge to shrug his hand off of her shoulder swept through T'Shaini, suppressing it, she frowned at the floor before answering. "He deserves better treatment from the Federation than this." Leaving Security behind her, she made her way back to her quarters.

He does deserve better…

JP featuring Usher Tenanji (as written by the Finnmeister)
Originally Posted 5-20-2008 by T'Shaini


USS Constitution
Saunders/Anderson Quarters

There was a Darby-sized lump in the other bunk when Jenny returned to her quarters. Sleeping roomie trumped need to rant so Jen plumped herself down in front of the computer console and slammed out as supportive a report as she could manage on BHP’s behalf, though she was muttering random curses on males, the callousness of, throughout the exercise.

Pierce’s eyes, cold and furious, tried to interrupt her stream of thoughts…. she’d earned his anger, she knew, but they seemed to have differing opinions as to why. Leave it be… Yeah, that sounded sooo like her. She added a few more comments, hopefully turning the focus of the jumped-up tricorder’s search back to her own investigation before closing out the report. Ben may not want anyone to help him… and she certainly had no intention of burdening him with her onerous friendship but no way was she leaving the mess she made untended.

Once the report was sent she idly scrolled through her lack of messages from Nate. He’d been insane with Cutsforth and the race, she knew but, had he heard about her disciplinary… issue, yet? She wasn’t sure how often LT sent reports on his wayward team… if Nate had heard, was he too pissed to talk to her? Or was it that he was being professional, letting his department heads run their departments. Or did he just not know what to say?

“Yeah, cause you’ve been so quick to talk to him,” she said out loud, wincing as Darby rolled over in subconscious response. Well, no time like the present. She wouldn’t com him… he really was too busy for that.

Hands poised over the keys she took a breath, then took another breath. What did she want to say? ‘Hi, sorry I’ve been MIA, just been busy making your ship a target and ruining the life of another crewmember… maybe two, if Boyce gets fingered… ‘

*Kthunk* Head to desk.

What had she been thinking? Getting involved with anyone in the ‘Fleet, much less a captain? Okay, maybe there hadn’t been a whole lot of thinking going on… more just going melty with the charm… and the biceps… and the eyes….

She sat up, looked at the blank screen, raised her hands again. Froze again as endless memories flooded to fill the space where no words were forming.

Images of her parents, engaged in yet another of their endless battles in the war between Mom and Starfleet for Seth’s attention. Of the day the divorce came through… while Dad had been off at Xendi station, right before the war broke out. Mom had been… it was like Seth had already died, as far as Megan was concerned. Of the uniforms at the door, after the Maru, when he'd truly died. Even remarried and happy with her Adam, Megan had fallen, weeping, into her stunned daughter's arms.

Shoving into the mix came her other major adult influence: Harry, who’d never had a serious relationship until Sara and that had been… not spoken of. Jen didn’t think, later, that even Seth saw what Jenny did, when the team was together for weekend picnics in Buena Vista park, near Seth’s quarters. Jenny had, though. The way Harry looked at Ensign Laslow was… different… special.

But that was it, wasn’t it? If Sara hadn’t been special, if she hadn’t loved Harry, they’d never have taken her, they’d never have hurt her and…

… And Seth might still be alive. Eyes as empty as the computer screen, Jen followed the thought to its bitter conclusion, It was their love that killed them… it killed them all.

She shut down the computer, so she wouldn’t have to stare at the blank screen, anymore.

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 5-21-2008 by Harry Finn


-Bowling Alley-
-USS Constitution-

There was something satisfying in the way the heavy black ball collided with the white pins and scattered them about the enclosed lane. The red-striped pins jumped up and clattered against the top of the metal gate with a crash. He had knocked them all down and the computerized scoring mechanism recorded it as a strike. A strike? Like in baseball..that's not a good thing. For a moment he wondered if the object of the game was to avoid the pins and roll the ball down one of the two smooth gulleys on either side. That seems too easy; maybe strike has a good connotation in this sense. He picked up the ball as soon as it was shot up out of the ball retrieval system. The engineer flung it down the lane as hard as possible and the pins bounced around. Another strike but Javier's features didn't change as he stared tight-lipped at the electronic score card.

After leaving the security office Javier had roamed about the ship in an effort to cool his anger at BHP. The Constitution didn't have enough decks as far as the Chief was concerned. And no Jeffries Tubes..how is a person supposed to vent on this little puddle-jumper? he had thought after nearly walking the entire length of the ship in less than twenty minutes. Anyone who tried to engage him in a conversation was given the cold shoulder and Tehamia's report on the status of Engineering (when he bothered to get to Engineering) fell on deaf ears. Even Burke sensed something unresolved about Javier and avoided the Chief of Engineering's company.

"Stupid ship," Javier muttered as he fired the ball down towards the pins with a vengeance. "Doesn't have anything we need..piece of flying crap is what it is." The pins crashed down except for one which teetered then stayed upright. "Pierce." he thought aloud, naming the offending pin before skipping a ball down to bash the pin.

Ouch.

Having been alerted to Javier's state of mind by Tehamia, T'Shaini had veered from her course to her quarters in search of him. After all her destination was much more a 'where he was' than a 'where' so it made perfect sense. Seeing how he was flinging the ball down the alley in front of her made it clear in her mind that this was less a recreation than a catharsis. Finding a seat behind him, T'Shaini rested her chin on her knees to watch and wait.

"Somebody should run this piece of junk into a supernova," Javier stated to what he thought was an empty bowling alley, oblivious to anything beyond himself and the pins that were being replaced at the end of the alley. "I know just the man to go down with the ship. He and Cutsforth could do it. Three problems solved all at once. Perfect." The ball took flight, crashed down on the polished wooden deck and took out all of the pins in a single giant pin massacre. He sighed and looked at the scores.

Wincing at the abuse the lane was taking as well as the voiced sentiments accompanying it T'Shaini began to wonder if she should interrupt or let this take its course. Speaking low, so that if he was not yet aware of her, he would likely not hear her, she voiced her thoughts. "You do not truly mean that."

"Oh my precious piano from circa 2132," Javier remarked, his voice taking on a British falsetto, "how dare that cretin fondle your ivories.." He turned to leave and found that he had an audience of one. "How long have you been here?"

"Ohhh, three or four murderous throws…" T'Shaini unfolded herself to rise and wrap her arms around Javier's neck. "Does the decimation of tiny little white men bring any relief?" She asked, smiling up at him.

"No, but the thought of destroying the Constitution in one fell swoop was uplifting," he replied as Javier embraced T'Shaini. He grinned just so she could see he was not being serious.

"Ah, good." She dropped her head onto his shoulder and sighed. "I was just speaking to Lieutenant Usher, perhaps I should try your method of release." She pressed her face into him a moment before continuing. "Then again I am far less angry than disgusted…or weary."

His hand came up to stroke through her hair as it did when Javier knew she was worried or concerned about something. "What's wrong?" he asked simply.

"Should the list be in chronological order or in order of importance?" She tipped her head so that she could look at him but still lean on his shoulder. "The whole BHP ordeal, Tenanji found the search Jenny requested him to initiate and flags that something serious could be going on, Benjamin was rather harsh with Jenny after I left the room from what little I could gather from her afterwards…it hurts to see her hurt. And…" T'Shaini paused, uncertain if she was allowed to reveal the last bit of information. Jenny was the only one I was cautioned against mentioning it to. "Usher also stumbled across information that command has declared Harry a rogue agent…and believes he is to be eliminated." She pulled back slightly so she could look up at Javier. "I viewed that without permission, I doubt he would appreciate me sharing that," T'Shaini cupped one hand over his cheek. "but since you are the one I depend on…"

"Pierce," he said, the word more of a growl, then registered the news about Harry Finn. "If the information came from that tricorder..there's nothing we can do, from what I saw most of those files were highly classified." Javier was worried for T'Shaini and it showed in the way he held her. "Don't tell anyone else you saw them. The entire ship could be at risk if HQ knew that we accessed those files. Scott's Ghost, I'm going to throw Pierce out the airlock for this.."

"No no no, it is not his fault, I cannot even be certain that is where the information came from…I just saw it onscreen." Pulling away T'Shaini began to pace with agitation. "Why? Why can nothing be done? Who says that any of us cannot be treated the same way? 'Do not behave the way we approve of and you will be eliminated.'" She sank down into one of the chairs behind the lane and buried her face in her hands.

Javier watched her go through the motions and waited until T'Shaini had said everything she wanted to, then slid down to his knees beside her. "It's not right but it happens..it is happening..and all we can do is wait and see what happens," Javier offered as he gently took T'Shaini's hands in his pulling them away from her face. "Harry can take care of himself," he reassured her, "and we're in the Gamma Quadrant, Starfleet doesn't have the reach out here that it does in the other quadrants. He'll survive."

A spark of hope lit her tear-filled eyes. He was right, if you factored in the sparceness of the federation along with Harry's unique 'gifts' there was hope…hope at least that he would be canny enough to survive until the crew had returned from the race. Once returned they should be able to do something. She pulled Javier's hands closer to her until she could brush her lips against his. "Thank you." After leaning in for another kiss she paused and pulled back just far enough to breathe out the sound. "Oh."

"Oh?" Javier said in the midst of some lip bliss.

"Erm, it has been suggested that you may be able to illicit more information from Benjamin than I alone, or Jenny would." T'Shaini bit her lip nervously waiting for his reply.

"Is there any specific means implied in the term 'illicit'?" Javier asked after thinking about the request. "I could hang him out the airlock while we cruise at full impulse.."

"I was more thinking of a nice warm chat."

"..while he runs around the ship wearing his EVA suit?" Javier asked hopefully.

"In his quarters, where he feels comfortable."

"..doing a thousand push-ups while I stand on his back?"

"In a manner conducive to putting him at ease."

"Okay," Javier agreed with a sigh, "I guess I could do that for you." The engineer's forlorn look was fleeting and the grin that followed only lasted a moment because his mouth was then pressed against hers once more.

This JP brought to you by JaviTee
Originally Posted 5-21-2008 by Javier Costala


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Rec Lounge ::

Nils casually strode through the wide doors into the rec lounge. The room appeared different once again from the last time he'd been here. The Temple setup Bayal had arranged was removed and the distinct smell of smoky wood and the tang of a spice he was unfamiliar with mingled in the air. T'Shaini, evidently, had disregarded Lady Cutsforth's 'request' that the use of incense be banned on board the ship. The Bajoran smiled despite himself.

"Hello, counselor," Nils said reaching out to shake T'Shaini's hand. The irony of an emotive Vulcan and a stifled Bajoran meeting for counseling sessions was not lost on the young man. In fact, it suddenly widened the smile already displayed on his face.

Unable to resist the uncharacteristic expression, T'Shaini felt an answering grin pull at her lips…I do not think I have ever seen him smile quite so openly. "Hello, Nils…" Having seen him register the scent permeating the room she shrugged lightly. "it does not seem to matter what I do, if I am to incur the 'wrath of Cutsforth' it may as well be for a good reason."

"If she asks, tell her I discouraged you from lighting it," the First Officer quipped. "Until we're off her museum she won't be pleased no matter what we try," he added a bit more seriously.

"Ahh now, I was planning on telling her it was your idea…you she likes." T'Shaini let out a heavy sigh. "You are right though, and I can understand her point of view…I just wish she would make more of an attempt to understand ours." Gesturing to the seating area, which now (mysteriously) was covered with plush cushions, the counselor dismissed the specter of the museum curator. "Not quite the purpose of your visit. I hear that you attended service with Bayel."

Settling on the seat, Nils responded, "I did. It was the first service I've attended since I was a child. It was…nice." He felt unusually easy. Something he'd come to notice about his own response to others indicated that once he felt 'open' with someone many of his usual barriers collapsed naturally, with little effort. It'd happened with Lincoln and Dalluk and of course with Jillian. It struck him how it was already beginning to happen with the counselor. There was a certain comfort in that truth. "I think I'm beginning to understand the journey the Prophets are drawing out before me."

"Nils, that is…extraordinary." T'Shaini pressed her hands to her face in order to counter act the rush she felt darken her cheeks. Even joy in another's journey brings some uncontrolled reaction…mmph. "To discover and fully commit to a path and see it unfold is a rare gift."

"Or a burden…" he answered appearing mildly fallen. "But clarity can never be a bad thing and things are certainly clearer." He took a moment to think, his eyes drifting down to the floor. "The clarity has left me with a blank space though…"

Jillian? "A great deal is shifting in your life, the blank space may yet be filled, to force it would be…unproductive. There is no telling what new things may appear if given room to grow, or what things may grow anew when there has been an area left uncultivated.

"I don't feel ready for more new things." More contemplation and staring at the floor. "Being XO is not at all what I had in mind for career and although I'll continue to do my duty, that avenue has left me feeling somewhat…unfulfilled. My desire to discover is trumped by the errands Starfleet is casting our way. The only time I've felt…right…in the past month or so were when I was dead or at the temple service." Nils raised his eyes and connected with T'Shaini. Although he didn't smile, a hint of a smile played around the corners of his eyes. "Let me ask you something… I mean… Is it alright if I ask you something more personal?"

"Yes of course." Eep.

"I'm not completely educated on the role of Vulcan mysticism in the life of individual Vulcans, but I know it bears a resemblance to an almost religious adherence to logic… You…" Here's where things get sticky. Nils swallowed hard before continuing. "You seem to have found your own… synthesis of personal choice and cultural tradition. I can't seem to find that balance." He didn't specifically ask a question, but let his observation permeate the room leaving space for her to respond.

The Vulcan did not know whether to laugh or wince, so an absurd amalgam of both crossed her face…so apropos. "I thought I had, it seems to be going rather awry at the moment." Drawing a deep breath she continued. "Being headstrong…even for a Vulcan, my formative years were spent researching the writings of the V'tosh Ka'tur (not a popular enterprise) but I was convinced that only by incorporating logic with emotion could I truly reach my potential. I knew" She emphasized by pointing to her chest. "rather than 'knew'" T'Shaini tapped her head lightly. "that there was something I needed to do, and the traditional path of most Vulcan's was not the one I was meant to take."

"For a Bajoran, there are not many nontraditional paths. I assumed the same was true for a Vulcan." Nils chewed his lip before continuing. "What I mean is… Even for those Bajorans not completely devoted to the way of the Prophets, the nature of our culture is such that it is difficult to separate faith from heritage. Although my own journey is not unique, it is by no means common. But even in my desire to shun the Prophets through my adolescence and youth…even young adulthood… the Prophets were still central to that decision. Does that make sense?"

"Indeed, to shun something makes it just as much a focus as embracing it…perhaps more so."

"Exactly," the Bajoran said enthusiastically. "But in that divergence from faith and culture I also lost a significant portion of myself. I learned early in my Starfleet career that 'no man is an island.' And my separation from…my family," the words eeked out with a forced apprehension. "Well, I know I've hurt them and although I can't agree with their methodology, my Pagh knows their hearts were in the right place all the time. I guess my real question is…how do you know the difference between heritage and religion? You appear to have reconciled it evenly… And although I sense I'm on the right Path, my next right step is obscured…" His voice trailed off. Having succeeded in fully flummoxing himself he decided it best to just shut up and let the counselor do the talking.

"Does anyone truly know the next step until they are on it?" Her nose wrinkled in thought. "Can you see a path you have not yet begun to tread?" She shook her head. "I think not. I think incorrect choices obscure it, but correct choices may do nothing more than affirm that one step." T'Shaini smiled warmly at the Bajoran. "It would be ideal if one word would cause the entire path to unfold before us, but that would make the need for a journey unnecessary." Tucking her feet beneath her she looked at the ceiling as she thought. "As to knowing the difference between heritage and religion, either they are so intertwined as to be inseparable, or much of our thinking makes it so."

Nils nodded. He knew his desire to dissect his faith came not from tradition but from what he'd piled on top of it. Scientific training always lead him to go for the 'whys' instead of accepting the given. "A hard thing for me to accept is that sometimes the truth isn't the most important aspect of life… Sometimes it must bow to larger, but more nebulous things. And it is utterly impossible for me to switch off my reason and logic. Only in death was I open enough to receive what the Prophets had for me." He was thinking out loud, but still looked to the counselor for a response. "I don't even really know if my experience with the Emissary was real…"

"Is not that the very definition of faith? That which is beyond proof or explanation?"

"But for a scientist…" Nils shook his head and dropped it into his hands. His elbows rested on his knees and he sighed deeply. "Proof and explanation are necessary. Otherwise I just feel like I'm crazy."

Steepling her fingers T'Shaini touched the tips to her mouth. "That may not be a negative thing." The look she received from Nils brought a smile to her face. "You are always so certain, about your work, your life…everything. Perhaps the shifting sands beneath your feet are an integral part of your journey. Out of chaos comes order."

"No…" he said simply. "I can't accept that… It's antithesis to all my training. It is opposite of all that I hold to be true…" If T'Shaini was asking him to accept the chaos that seemed to be crashing on the shore of his psyche he couldn't do it. In fact, the prospect began to irritate him. "Why can't clarity be enough for its own sake? It can't always lead to more obscurity." His frustration seeped into his tone. "It can't," he repeated, pleading with the counselor.

"Find the parameters of this experiment." Use his own language. "Enclose the uncertainty with structure, seek answers within a controlled environment, can this journey be looked at in a form that you are comfortable with?"

"I don't know," he said, keying into her suggestion. "But if it can… If I can look at it from… Perhaps if I speak to Bayel and use his experience as a control, then compare my own walk with his… And I certainly could try to quantify my questions - assigning weight to each decision I've made up to this point…" He locked eyes with the counselor. "I think that may be worth considering."

"Good." She could watch his intellect latch on to the new process, it was akin to watching a kaleidoscope click into place. "Good, I am certain Bayel will be gratified by your request."

"Probably," he agreed heartily. "He's very enthusiastic when it comes to the Bajoran faith…" Nils rose and expressed his intent to leave through body language. "As much as I'd like to stay and hash this out further, duty calls. Some security issues require my attention." An awkward pause halted his progress. "Thank you for your insight, Counselor. I find that it…soothes my overactive intellect…" And with that he left wearing the same smile he'd arrived with.

T'Shaini sank back into the cushions with a contented sigh. This is why I do what I do.

This Session brought to you by Nils'Shaini
Originally Posted 5-22-2008 by Torrik Nils


.: USS Constitution | Conference Room :.

Nathan checked his chrono again. Five minutes?! that's it? It'd apparently been a whole five minutes since he'd last looked at the time. Stupid ass meeting. He cursed to himself.

"…and I want to reiterate that the unfortunate events that occurred with the first race beacon should stick in our minds as we near the next hurdle in the race." Cutsforth was saying as he tuned-briefly- back in to her endless monologue. "The Constitution is not, no matter how many times certain individuals might try to prove otherwise, a plaything or an 'off road vehicle' as it were. She is a living example of our history and ought to be treated as such."

The meeting had been dragging on for quite some time. An Hour? Hour and a half? Honestly the teen had lost track of time someplace between "Those two misfits in engineering" and the Shuttlecraft Goddard's eulogy. Thoughts of his impending activities had invaded the meeting and now consumed him. Some time later though, he heard the only words he'd wanted to hear for the meeting's duration…

"So that concludes my minutes for this meeting Gentlemen."

Nathan normally would have had a retort for the embittered old brit but not today. Instead, he stood quickly, looking around the table. "Anyone else?" He asked hopefully. No one assembled made a move within the half second or so that the young CO allotted for a response so he make quick work of yanking the offer off the table. "Great. Ok. Same time tomorrow then. See ya!." He bolted for the door, but was stopped short by someone running nails on a chalkboard.

" Captain, A word if I might."

I hate you. He thought, turning to lay eyes on the Constitution's prune shaped conscience. "Yeah? what can I do for you Lady Cutsforth?" he replied evenly.

"Well, I wonder if you might have a few moments to spare. I need to discuss some of the crew's most recent episodes with you." She asked, moving to take a seat at the recently vacated table. Nathan didn't move.

"Uh.. I can't really… right now." He said, still unsure of the excuse.

She scanned him disapprovingly. "Mmhmm… and why not Captain, you know that I've…"

"Because…" He offered pressed for an excuses; of which he had literally hundreds at his disposal, the teen picked the first one that came to mind. "I've got to pee." He added. And with that, and several no doubt scorching remarks left for only the walls to hear, the teen turned and exited the room without so much as a look back. Certainly he'd hear about it. Or maybe he wouldn't. But that didn't really matter. The only meeting, crew or otherwise was the one he'd set up with Jenny in the captain's mess. Or at least would have set up once he spoke to Tennaji.

Hopefully, he thought as we made his way swifty down the corridors, he'd be able to come up with something a little more substantial for the Constitution's Chief of Security then he had for the old battleaxe. As he rounded the corner to the turbolift, Nathan unclipped the communicator from his belt and flipped it open.

"Benjamin to Tennaji" he spoke into it, coming to a stop in front of the lift. It wasn't long; The lift hadn't arrived yet; when the British Lieutenant's clipped tones came over the device's small speaker.

"Go ahead Captain."

"Hey, is Crewman Anderson still confined to quarters?" Nathan asked neutrally.

"Yes Sir, for the next twelve hours." Tennaji informed him. "Were you wanting to speak with her?"

Nathan nodded a greeting at the ensign and civilians that exited the lift as he stepped aboard. "Yeah. Could you tell her to get into uniform and meet me at the Captain's mess in say… " He looked at his chrono. "…about thirty minutes? I want to talk to her about what we talked about earlier."

There was silence for a few seconds as Tennaji formed a response. "Yes sir." He replied evenly. "Would you like to speak with Crewman Pierce as well?"

"No. I'll talk to him in the morning. I'll pay him a visit in his quarters." Nathan answered, grabbing the handle as the lift doors closed. "Have you been able to learn anything more about his breaches into the computer?"

"Negative. The counselor and Ensign Costala have spoken to him. As well as Crewman Anderson. And from what I've been told he's saying very much."

"Deck two." Nathan ordered, springing the lift into motion. "Ok. I'll talk to them again too. Maybe between all of us we can figure this thing out before we get to the outpost." He said.

"Will you be needing me to accompany Crewman Anderson sir?" Tennaji asked.

"Nah." Nathan answered casually, "I'll talk to her alone. And I'll make sure she gets back to her quarters afterwards. No need to put anyone else out with it.

"Very well sir." Tennaji replied cooly. "Will that be all?"

No doubt he thought something was up, but Nathan plugged ahead anyhow. "Nope. That will be all. Thanks man." He replied. "Benjamin out."

He shut the communicator, replacing it on his hip. Now all he had to do was make sure Nathaniel was set for dinner and he'd be off to have dinner with Jenny. Of course, he really did want to find out what she'd been up to with Pierce. But more than that he wanted to spend time with her. Since they'd reconciled nearly a week prior, he'd seen very little of her. and then Tennaji had confined her to quarters for snooping around without permission. Truth be told, if the race and Cutsforth's antics didn't consume damn near every minute of the day, Nathan would have been looking into things himself. As it was, he remained skeptical of the motives behind the race, but without evidence to cement that opinion. Perhaps Jenny might be able to shed some light on things.

Originally Posted 5-23-2008 by Nathan Benjamin


-Corridor Outside BHP's Quarters-
-USS Constitution-

"Cadet, wake up," Javier said as he shook Boyce's shoulder. He had found the engineer in training laying on the floor of the corridor, wrapped in a blanket and sleeping peacefully.

"Hmm..Chief?" The cadet's eyes blinked open

"What are you doing sleeping out here in the corridor?" Javier asked, kneeling beside Boyce.

"Kal-El snores," Fenton started to explain, "no, snores is not a good description, he rumbles." He yawned then jerked a thumb toward the security crewman guarding Pierce's door. "They won't let me in, even to sleep so I just took to the corridor."

"Well you can't sleep here, if we go to General Quarters you'll be in the way," the Chief Engineer said, "and may get trampled." If they had been on the Hawking Javier could have shifted Boyce to another room. But since we are on this historical POS there's not much I can do. "You're going to have to try and tune Kal-El out until we can get this situation with Pierce resolved."

"Okay sir," Fenton answered, then inquired, "Are you going to talk to him now."

Javier frowned towards Pierce's door. "Yes, but if he doesn't begin to co-operate…when he gets to the Outpost he'll be removed from the crew and there isn't anything we can do for him then."

"Chief, it was my tricorder," Fenton blurted out, "I helped him..we were looking for information about the race." The cadet looked down at the deck. "I want to help sir, I know how everyone talks about my brother and how he was selfish.." Boyce returned his eyes to the Chief Engineer's, "I have a lot to make up for..and I wanted to help my crewmates."

"Circumventing security measures placed on Pierce for his own protection was not the way to go about helping him," Javier said sternly, he could not deny the fact that even in Boyce's desire to help his friend the cadet had broken regulations. "This will go on your record." The cadet's features became downcast. "As soon as I find your record..which I will when I find the Chief Engineer's office," Javier added, satisfied in the fact that the Constitution didn't have one. "Now get back in there and stick a tubesock in Kal-El's mouth if he starts snoring too loudly."

"Tubesock?" Fenton asked as he paused in gathering up his blanket. But Javier was already walking away, his path taking him to Benjamin Hyde Pierce's door.

Originally Posted 5-23-2008 by Javier Costala


USS Constitution
Anderson/Saunders Quarters

Darbs had left for her shift after several attempts to cheer the morose Anderson up and finally exited muttering something about moody roommates and how Cam was less of a downer. Jenny didn’t really pay much mind as by that point she was too busy reading over what little information she’d gleaned from the original series of data requests she’d made. LT had contacted her this AM and given her the go-ahead to review everything already in-hand, since it was there and maybe, he’d pointed out, if she performed the research under orders it might curb her appetite for further cloak and dagger activities.

At present she was deep into the mystery summit, which had taken place at DS-9, Stardate 60472.3 (Earthdate June 22, 2383). She’d still been working for Nechayev at that point but there’d been no rumbling in Spec Ops about it and no official information had been made available to her but… she grabbed the stylus off her desk but, ha, no padd, no paper. Fine… she leaned over the desk and scrawled a reminder on the wall… ‘LT - check visitor manifest DS-9: 60453.1 - 60694.2’. It helped to have the visual.

She figured Tenanji could find a way to the information without ‘setting off alarms’.

Scrolling down, she started pouring over the inter-station ‘news’ records when the room’s intercom crackled for attention, =/\=Tenanji to Anderson=/\=

Jumping up she pressed the com button, "Anderson, go ahead."

=/\=Please report to my office, ASAP, in uniform=/\= the order was so terse she could almost hear the crying of the words as they were bitten off.

"Sir, on my way, Anderson out."

Dashing into the hated uniform and throwing her hair into a ponytail, she wondered what she’d done this time? Or was there news on BHP? Or… her heart dropped another millimeter, Harry? She slid her feet into the boots and ran out the door, speculations chasing round her head to the point of making her dizzy.

Twenty minutes later a slightly dazed Jenny Anderson made her way to the turbolift. Captain’s Mess… she’d been ordered to the Captain’s Mess… by her CO. Time out from time out and while it sounded as if Nate had tried to couch his orders in actual shipboard matters, it was also obvious that Tenanji hadn’t bought a word of it.

Traversing deck two she was still so fogged that she ran straight into one of the passengers… who was it?… Chuck?… and Hillman wasn’t even nearby. The boisterous tourist laughed it off and patted Jen understandingly on the shoulder as she apologized, saying she was just lucky he was so well padded.

Reaching her destination, Jen carefully stepped through the doors to see… oh… dinner, it seemed and, as the scent of appetizers made by hand reached her, she recalled that it had been at least a day since she’d eaten anything (guilt being a superb appetite suppressor). The light was provided by fat candles mid-table which set off a bowl of some unknown flowers.

It was lovely. It was thoughtful. It was without a doubt the most romantic gesture that had ever been offered to her.

She looked to where Nathan stood, on the far side of the table, hopeful and nervous and handsome with it.

“What the hell did you think you were doing?” she demanded.

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 5-23-2008 by Harry Finn


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Deck 3 ::

Nils walked slowly through the corridor numbering the things he needed to accomplish in his head. Chief on the list was getting with Tenanji to discuss the breaches in protocol happening in and among the security and engineering crewmembers. The thought didn’t appeal to him, and for the first time since the man left, Nils realized he missed Harry Finn. His dry yet efficient spin on security matters had a way of putting Nils at ease – as if things were well in hand. Tenanji however always appeared as if his stare could bore through your skull and melt the bulkhead behind. Unnerving is what that was…

“So you believe your gods are with you now,” he heard an unfamiliar voice say from ahead, just around a sharp corner.

“Of course,” said a more familiar voice. “Though we don’t call them gods.” Bayal Paven… Nils would recognize his reverent tone anywhere.

Rounding the corner, the Bajoran witnessed Chris Garcia, the EBA reporter, shoving a recording device into the computer technicians face. It looked like some kind of impromptu interview.

“Right,” answered Garcia, clearly goading the man. “The wormhole aliens are your gods and you call them…” His voice trailed off, allowing Bayal to interject.

“The Prophets.” He smiled warmly, apparently unaware that the reporter was making fun of him, or worse. Perhaps the ‘wild beliefs’ of Starfleet’s finest would be the subject of his next sensational piece. “They walk with us. Though thunder quake and lightning strike, still the Prophets…”

“Excuse me,” Nils interrupted, his tone acid and his brow low. “Are you authorized to speak to crewmembers while they’re on duty?”

“Oh I’m not on…” Bayal began, but Garcia cut him off.

“I’m authorized by this pass and Starfleet command to get my job done, Lieutenant,” he smirked, holding up his digitized press pass. “Care to comment?” He thrust the recorder into Nils face.

Without an answer, the surly Bajoran shoved Garcia’s hand out of his face. “I’ve got a job for you Bayal,” Nils growled facing off with Garcia.

“Oh I’d like to hear what you…” Garcia began, his synthetic smile and plastic personality beaming.

“I don’t care what you’d like, mister,” the first officer said, drawing himself to his full height. Knowing that anything he said might make its way into a broadcast or piece of rancid journalism, Nils held his tongue at that point. He loomed over the reporter, who was much shorter, and he scowled.

“Perhaps we can discuss your gods another time,” Garcia said, deflating a little. “Until then…”

Nils grabbed Bayal by the elbow and lead him down the corridor away from the reporter not bothering to hear the end of whatever it was he was saying. “I don’t like that man,” he seethed quietly.

“I can see that,” Bayal said, trying to peer over his shoulder. Nils kept them moving forward. When they were sufficiently far enough away Nils release his grip, but kept moving. “You had a job for me…” Bayal seemed curious, but also mildly put out.

“I’d prefer if you didn’t speak to that reporter,” Nils started. “He’s…” Shaking his head in disgust, he made a noise similar to a stifled cough. It was all he had to describe his feelings of the man.

“He’s a means by which to spread the message of the Prophet’s, sir,” Bayal finished. His tone softened, a little. “I get the feeling you think you’re protecting me from him… But I can’t for the life of me understand why you think I’d need protecting.”

“He’s a snake,” Nils spat. “He was just trying to get you to talk about your faith so he could ridicule it, or use it to make some twisted point in some biased piece he’s working on.”

“Do you think I don’t know that, Lieutenant?” Bayal smiled warmly. “But mine is not to worry over the agenda of a seeker… Only to proclaim truth. What he does with it is his choice.”

Slowing a little Nils glanced to the side, catching the man’s eye. “I don’t want him pulling the Bajoran faith into that circus sideshow of his.”

“Well want in one hand and…”

“Bayal, why would you waste your time with him at all? Spreading truth is one thing, but casting it out like trash before canines seems unwise. I won’t let him use you like that.”

“You forget, Lieutenant, that I’m not a child. Nor am I naïve. I served in the Militia during the darkest parts of the Occupation. I’ve seen the evil that men can do.” Bayal’s tone was sober and full serious.

And Nils felt fully chastised. “I’m sorry… I guess I wasn’t thinking.”

“You were thinking,” Bayal corrected with a smile. “Just not correctly. An unfortunate fallout of the Occupation is that many of our people think our Faith is one to be coddled and protected. That our Prophets need us to watch over them. That’s just not the case.”

“Right,” said the Bajoran, his cheeks flushing dark red. After they passed a few crewman and a moment more of silence Nils blurted, “I’ve had a Pagh’tem’far.”

“What,” Bayal said, apoplectic. His feet froze and Nils had to stop quickly to keep close.

Stepping close and lowering his voice, Nils repeated, “I’ve had a Pagh,tem’far. When I…was… I was injured during the sabotage incidents on Hawking. While I was… unconscious… That’s when I saw the Emissary.”

“The Emissary,” Bayal repeated, eyes wide. “I’d heard you died on Doctor Munro’s table.”

Zing!!! Nils never heard her name that it didn’t sting a little. “Yes… Yes, technically I was dead for a little while. A few minutes at most.”

“What did he say? What did you see?” Bayal looked as if he’d seen a ghost.

“Not here,” Nils said glancing around the corridor. “But Counselor T’Shaini says it would be beneficial for me to speak with you about the things I’ve been going through. Would it be alright if we set up a meeting?”

“Of course! Of course,” the computer tech said through inspired laughter. “Let’s go to my quarters. I’m not due for duty until…”

“Not right now,” Nils interrupted. “I need to speak with our acting Chief of Security. Are you available following your shift?”

Bayal nodded, still looking a bit like he’d been caught in an EPS conduit overload.

“I’ll com you when I’m available.” Nils nodded curtly then turned and stalked on to his next appointment. His fortuitous yet coincidental encounter with Bayal did not go unnoticed. Perhaps the next step in his journey was emerging from obscurity.

Featuring NPC's Bayal Paven and Chris Garcia
Originally Posted 5-23-2008 by Torrik Nils


-BHP's Quarters-
-USS Constitution-

Benjamin Hyde Pierce's sleep had been restless. He kept dreaming about the heist. It was on his mind so often that the details and tragedy of it now plagued his dreams. He would re-live the worst parts of the event in his nightmares, but where in reality he was frozen in place by the dead bodies of the three depot workers, in his dreams he saw his friends become the dead. Fenton lay with his head at an odd angle, his face registering nothing but shock. Kal-El had been tossed aside, like the depot worker, and dangled over the cab of a worker bee vehicle. And then the last worker, laying on the floor as a crimson stain pooled around her auburn hair, Ben felt his heart stop as he approached the woman. It was Jenny, a pale, cold Jenny. He knelt beside the young woman to lift her up, to breathe life into her…

The lights in the room were harsh to his eyes and Ben's hands shielded them from the glare. "You have a visitor," the female security officer that had been guarding his door told him.

"I'm awake," BHP replied. He had fallen asleep on his bed, in uniform, a PADD that he had been reading lay beside him. The engineer rubbed his hands over his face then proceeded to the small bathroom where he splashed some cold water on his face. When he returned to the main room he found Chief Costala waiting for him. "Sir?" Pierce said warily, he knew that the officer was not pleased with him and wondered what had prompted the visit.

"Crewman Pierce.." Javier started, then remembered what T'Shaini had said. In a manner conducive to putting him at ease. He looked around the room which had become Pierce's cell. It did not seem to be conducive to relaxation. What puts me at ease? Cleaning a weapon? Pierce and I can't do that though. Fixing stuff? Not much to fix in here unless we break something, then Cutsforth will advocate the death penalty..for both of us. Breakfast? Yes. Pancakes..or waffles, pancakes are reserved for T'Shaini and I. "Let's go get breakfast," the Chief Engineer said, "and I want to talk to you."

"Yes sir, but I can't leave my quarters.." Pierce said in confusion.

"Right, well I'll have breakfast brought to us then," Javier replied as he moved towards the door and addressed the security guard. "Cadet, Pierce and I are going to need some breakfast. I need you to go down to the Officer's Mess and order up some eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, waffles, orange slices, coffee, biscuits…and uh, did I miss anything?" he said to Pierce.

"Hashbrowns?"

"Ah yes, hashbrowns..then bring them back here, get some of the kitchen staff to help you if you need it," Javier told the Cadet. The look on the Bajoran woman's face showed that she was not over-enthusiastic about her task. "Is something wrong?"

"Sir, I'm supposed to stay here and guard.."

Javier pulled a page straight out of Captain Nathan Benjamin's logbook. "See this pip on my collar," he started, "that says I'm an officer. Your collar only has four bars which says you're a cadet. Did you fall asleep during your academy courses? One pip beats four bars..are you still standing here?"

"No Sir!" the cadet said then fled. Javier watched her go with a slight smile then yelled out after her, "And get plenty of food!" He turned back to Pierce. "Let's set up our dining room Pierce."

::Forty Minutes Later::

"And sir, you really made him clean the airlock from the outside of the ship?" Cadet Mellon Astyr asked in disbelief before munching on a piece of toast. The cadet had found herself invited to breakfast too after she and a member of the kitchen staff had returned with the food. All three of them sat in Pierce's quarters, around the small desk, finishing up the meal.

"Yeah but it builds character," Javier answered before taking a drink of his coffee then paused to add, "And it's better than cleaning a dropship with a toothbrush."

"And how," Pierce replied as he leaned back in his chair, feeling good for the first time in days. The food had been first rate, hand prepared cuisine not the nutrient rich swill that the replicators produced. It reminded Ben of food from home. There was that diner down on Third Street, that cook was the Real McCoy. "Mellon, if you don't mind scramming I have to level with the Chief," Ben said to the female cadet. Thoughts of home always made Pierce fall back into Iotian-flavored jargon.

"Will you excuse us please, we need to speak in private," Javier clarified. To her credit, Cadet Astyr sensed that it was time for her to return to her post. After the cadet left, Costala took another swallow of his coffee. "Pierce, you don't have to tell me what you did or why you think you deserve to be arrested. T"Shaini told me that you were not stealing information and…I'm glad. You're a valuable part of my staff and your good nature and willingness to help reminds me of someone else." Ajani. Why had he not seen it before? "I want to help you but I'm not going to push you anymore. If you want us to try and help you then we need to know specifics, if you don't want us to help then you'll be left alone."

"I don't think you can help me Chief.." BHP stated. The officer nodded and took another drink from his coffee cup, refusing to press the issue. "And I'm worried," Pierce said, "I want your help, I want to tell others but I don't want to put her..them in danger. Someone dug this out of my past, they spoke with someone who knew me or they have very deep pockets." Pierce shifted in his chair. "When that sort of pull is used, well you have to play the cards you're dealt."

"Is Crewman Anderson the one you are worried about?"

"Her and Fenton, anyone who I tell," Ben replied, then said, "but yeah Jenny has been through too much…she doesn't need anymore hurt." BHP looked down at the deck and frowned as he thought about how he had spoken to Jenny Anderson the last time he had seen her. "I mean obviously as far as her and I go the bank's closed..she has Captain Wonderful." The engineering recruit looked up at the Chief. "I told her to leave me alone and I was..harsh."

Javier nodded. There was nothing much to say. He liked his captain and would not speak ill of the officer. But he also liked BHP and from what he had gathered about Jenny Anderson she was a straight shooter. "You need your friends during the tough times," he advised, "and Lt. Tenanji is capable as security chief, I believe he can keep us protected from most threats."

"Are you saying I should talk to Jenny again?"

"I'm saying you should trust your friends," the Chief Engineer said as he put down his cup and walked towards the door.

"Sir?" BHP inquired, bringing Javier to a halt. "Are you my friend?"

"Nope," Javier replied, then grinned and said, "I'm your boss." He stepped outside the room, winked at Mellon then cruised down the corridor towards Main Engineering.

Featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce and Mellon Astyr
Originally Posted 5-24-2008 by Javier Costala


.: USS Constitution | Captain's mess :.

“What the hell did you think you were doing?” she demanded.

Not quite the greeting he'd hoped for. Something more along the lines of.. "Hi.. How are you. Been a while… good to see you." Maybe some levity. But unfortunately, judging from the hands on hips staredown he was getting, Nathan would probably have an easier time getting Cutsforth to give him such a greeting.

"So.. I guess you meant me springing you from timeout and getting you some food?" He said with a grin. One could always try right? " I figured you could use some dinner… conversation."

"If you wanted to talk, you could have come to my quarters," she pointed out, "and, don't get me wrong, this is… amazing… but it couldn't have waited another eleven hours or so?" How how how could he not see… "Tenanji… you have no idea how this makes me look. I already screwed up once this week and now… now it's like… like…"

"Like I don't care anymore!" He said, cutting her off and rising from the chair. "I don't care what people think… about us." He didn't move toward her, but he didn't take his eyes off hers either. "I'm sick and tired of sneaking around and worrying what people are saying about me. "Oh.. he's dating Crewman Anderson"… Who cares!? I mean, it's not like you're getting treated any different than anyone else right? I let Tennaji run his own show down there. I let him lock you up in your quarters because you screwed up. Ok but you're going back to duty in the morning. AND, I wanted to talk to you about the whole thing anyway. So.. who cares. I mean.. what are they saying to you? Did Tennaji say something to you about us?"

Technically she wasn't back on duty until tomorrow night but she doubted he'd appreciate the hair-splitting and, anyway, his sudden surge of anger had left her a bit breathless. "No, he… he didn't say anything." Why talk when one look could sit you down and give a thirty minute lecture on propriety? "But I wouldn't have blamed him if he had. This was breach of protocol," okay that sounded stuffy; true but stuffy, "I mean, do you really think no one treats me differently when you just ordered me sprung from lockdown so we can have dinner? Didn't you think that, maybe, it might make me look a bit like the captain's…" Abort! Abort! "… it was just… a dumbass idea." Yeah, that was sooo much better!

"Is that right?" He asked incredulously. "So is that how you see it? We're just… some kind of "Breach of Protocol"? Really? Ok.. so.. what am I supposed to do. You tell me then. Tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it. Obviously I can't seem to make the right decisions when it comes to you so.. You just.. just make the call. What do you want?"

It was exactly like listening to her parents, over and over and over. "I want to not do this… I want out," she said before she could think. "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I never wanted to… I'm sorry."

Her words felt like a brick thrown by a Klingon shot-putter straight at his gut. It was a few minutes before he could muster up a reply. This time his tone wasn't defensive. He knew what she'd meant. And unlike any previous fights with girlfriends, this one was a little frightening. "You know, I don't really know how to act anymore. Part of me thinks I should just say screw it and just kiss you whenever I see you in the corridor. I mean. I know it's not supposed to be like that." He glanced up at her but didn't hold the gaze for long before his eyes returned to the table. "And part of me knows that I'm supposed to be this.. impartial Commander and not get into stuff like what we've got going on but I can't really help it you know? I'm not a robot. It's hard to just turn it off. I can't turn it off. And I know it's hard for you too and… I know that people talk and it's easier for them to let you know than me. I just don't want to screw it up and lose you. So if you want me to step off and not get in your way I'll do that. I'll do whatever you want to do. I don't really care. I can handle whatever people want to think you know? But if you're not happy then… "

"It's not as simple as happy or not happy," she said into the void. "It's that you can't turn it off… I can't turn it off and that's the problem. Nate," his name was a soft exhale, "we're both supposed to be responsible for other people's lives… that has to come first and maybe you can feel all this and it won't affect your judgment but I just got here. I just… I'm so screwed up with all this," she pounded a fist into her sternum, "I can't focus on the job and if I lose focus, other people get hurt. Not this kind of hurt; the permanent kind." She wanted so much to not have to look at him but, "I have to step away before I make the kind of mistake that kills someone." Or gets them arrested… oh wait, too late! Ben, Nate, who else could she make miserable this week? Come on, Jen, you're on a roll…

"You know… You're not Harry." He replied quietly. "Just because it happened to him… "

"He just proved it can happen," she finally gave in and looked away. "I think this is why no one in Security gets married, because it can happen, it can go that wrong."

"So? So he proved that it CAN happen. Khouri and Kaz are married. And I can name a few more couples that made it work." Nathan found himself grasping. "I mean… I don't see why, since Harry's situation didn't work out, that we have to give up. Unless you're just looking for the most convenient reason." He deposited himself back into the chair, the realization of what Jenny was telling him starting to cement itself.

"Yup, that's it, ya' got me," she turned towards the door, suddenly exhausted, "and I can't tell you how handy it is to have Sara Laslow's self-immolation to fall back on whenever I need some personal space."

"Yeah well," He began, staring over at her; perched for flight by the door. "It must be awesome to just be able to pack it in like that. I don't know if you're just ignoring yourself, or if you never really were interested in the first place. But either way, I guess you've made up your mind so there's no use sitting here debating it."

"No," she admitted, practically racing out the door, "there's not." Out in the corridor she had to lean against the wall, one hand pressed against her stomach, trying to quell the nausea.

Back in the mess, Nathan's appetite had seemingly jumped up and bailed on him too. Not that it would have mattered of course.. Much like the atmosphere in the room, the food had gone cold anyway. After a few dumbfounded minutes spent processing what had just transpired Nathan pulled himself out of the chair and over to the door.

A joint post with Jenny Anderson, played by Finnmeister
Originally Posted 5-30-2008 by Nathan Benjamin


~Meanwhile~

USS Constitution
Main Security Office - Deck 7

"… closing the gate once the horse is loose; trying to put the cat back in the bag! We have the intelligence here, before us, it would be imbecilic…"

It was not so much the volume but the intensity of the words that had T'Shaini pausing in the doorway…that and the 'I have just been hit by a 2 by 4' look on Lieutenant Torrik's face. Raising her hands in a mock surrender as she came into the room the counselor inserted herself into their discussion. "Gentlemen please…" As both of their heads snapped in her direction she smiled gently. "could someone explain why we are talking about animals in such hostile tones?"

"It seems the Lieutenant and I are having a disagreement over proper security protocols," Nils answered, his voice like cardboard scraping over gravel. "And regardless of how 'imbecilic' he seems to think I'm behaving, there are procedures to follow and a Chain of Command to respect…" On his final words, Nils gaze slowly settled on the acting chief of security, his expression dire and steady.

Hearing his own words to Anderson echoed by his XO did little to settle the rare fire burning through Usher's system. He might have been more receptive if his own CO were less inclined to circumvent Tenanji's own authority for the sake of a date. "Perhaps, but it appears now as if the Chain of Starfleet Command has formed itself into something of a noose. This," he held up the rogue tricorder from Pierce's room, "may contain the answers we need…"

"Pierce's tricorder?" The Vulcan reached out to take the device from Usher's hand. "What answers? Answers about the race?"

"About none of our concern," Nils said with controlled irritation. He reached out and snatched the tricorder from T'Shaini. Walls slammed into place as he put emotional distance between the situation and his core. "Files are classified for a reason. And it is not for junior officers to decide the rationale of senior. We'll hand it over to the Captain and he can decide whether or not to contact Admiralty. But anymore unauthorized 'delving' into things that are way above all of our pay grades is terminated…"

"The Captain seems to be preoccupied, at present," Usher commented, snagging the disputed tech mid pass.

Bypassing any thought process T'Shaini's hand shot out and snagged initiator of BHP's downfall. "So we should…"

"…follow protocol," finished Nils, once again tugging the metallic conundrum from the counselor.

"Hey!"

"By the Prophets!" Javier said as he entered the room, distracting Nils just long enough to grab the tricorder. "If all of you want a tricorder I think I could get you each one without you having to fight over them." The Chief Engineer studied the piece of tech that he had found in BHP's quarters. "For all we know the information contained within this tricorder could pose a serious security risk to the ship. In such cases the CO should act as they see fit to protect the ship and her crew. In the absence of the CO, the Executive Officer shall take all appropriate action.." Javier stated as he looked at Nils.

The looks he received for stating protocol led the engineer to clarify. "When I got my field promotion I had to read the SF Officer's Manual. It's not as interesting as one might think but it beats Vulcan prose." He winced and cast a sideways glance at T'Shaini. "Sorry."

"I doubt that the information therein could pose more of a risk to the Constitution's security than ignorance of what it may contain," Tenanji held his hands up, as if to demonstrate his dropping out of the game of keepaway. "Regulations are meant to protect the 'Fleet, yes but what happens when those who would do harm to Starfleet use those very regulations against us?" Nodding towards the tricorder in question, "Already, with one short pass I've discovered a file created under a false identity. How many more depredations might have been uncovered in this search? Can we afford not to know?"

Javier sighed and gave the acting Chief of Security a look of long-suffering. "Lt. Tenanji, I agree with you," the engineer said, "but I'm not going to view any of the information on here," he held up the tricorder, "until my CO or XO deems it necessary. The same regulations that seem like a hindrance are also going to protect each of us from a court martial..or prison."

"I…er…yes." T'Shaini's head was spinning, was she really listening to Javier arguing protocol with Usher? "Yes, to both…I understand that we need to follow regulations," The Vulcan nodded at Javier, then focused her attention to Nils. "as well as the fact that it is imperative that we have enough information to protect the crew and that information may be found in the contents of that tricorder."

Nothing is ever simple, thought Nils as his attention went from speaker to speaker. Everyone made sense, and that was the problem. But once again that only cemented his decision to follow protocol. "The contents of the tricorder were never meant for our eyes. We can pass it up the chain, and do this by the book." He drew a long slow breath before continuing. "I can appreciate the concern you are expressing, Lt. Tenanji. I find all of this damned irregular as well. But this type of information is kept from the likes of us for a reason. If every officer, crewman, and cook in the fleet knew all the intel bouncing around, we'd all have some personal crusade to follow up on and the Fleet would fracture…" He paused for a moment and took one more breath. "The file created by the false identity is peculiar, but there could be any number of explanations… A shadow agent, or an Admiral on assignment… Even Section 31 could be involved… The point is I don't know and neither do you. Regulations are for situations where things are unclear, not when the next course of action is obvious."

"Given that I've already read some of this contraband, is it remotely possible to continue looking into…"

"Wait a minute! By admitting to the three of us that he's already seen the information, Lt. Tenanji has put himself in a rather awkward position," Javier said. "The way I see it, we can all bring charges against him or we can all agree to having acute hearing problems when he last spoke." The engineer had to force himself not to look at T'Shaini when he added, "Anyone who might have accidentally seen any data on the tricorder should not volunteer that information." The engineer had first-hand experience with boards of inquiry and was doing his best to keep the others, especially T'Shaini, from any sort of legal entanglements.

Usher looked briefly towards the counselor but said nothing.

T'Shaini, who had opened her mouth to volunteer the fact that she had viewed a piece of information, closed it again at the bland glance from Lt. Tenanji…and the fact that Javier was clearly not looking at her.

"I'd like to encrypt the information to keep anyone else from inadvertently setting themselves up for court martial," Nils said opening his hand for the tricorder. "As it stands we already have some junior officers and crewmen to protect and I'd rather not add to that list. Information can be dangerous…"

So can ignorance,Usher thought, probably quite loudly given how Torrik was looking at him. "Very well," he conceded, "was there anything more you wished to discuss?" The fact that the XO had brought in both the Counselor and head of Engineering indicated there was more to this meeting than eviscerating Tenanji's investigation.

"Yes," Nils said switching tacks and relaxing a little. He knew he'd probably made himself a little less popular with Tenanji, but popularity had never been a concern of his. The truth was, he doubted his own judgment on the issue, and had no experience to draw from, so he deferred to regulations. At least this way the reputation of the crew would be secure. On to more pressing matters… "As you know we are approaching the Dosi station, where our second beacon was placed. What we know is that a delegation of three crewmen should be assembled and shuttled over to the station." He looked to Tenanji and continued, "I'd like to send a small security contingency along with the away team. Nothing to obvious, but I want our people protected. Which brings me to the people…" His attention turned to T'Shaini and Javier.

"And the reason the two of us were called to this meeting." T'Shaini nodded in acceptance. "I would be honored to be part of the delegation."

"Thank you," Nils offered sincerely. "Unfortunately what we don't know outweighs what we do regarding what will be asked of the delegation…" His words trailed off as he turned expectantly to Javier.

"I don't know if sending me over as part of the greeting party is such a good idea," Javier said as his thoughts went back to the events surrounding the capture of the first beacon, "the Fleet's image really took a beating after what I did with the first one. And I've never been on any 'meet and greets' before this..except when I was in the marines, but 'meet and greet' has a very different meaning to them." He looked down at the floor and scuffed his boot toe against the deck before looking up again to say, "Maybe I should stay on the ship and watch the engines."

"I need to send senior staff," Nils started, sounding almost apologetic. "Based on my own research into their culture, the Dosi will view sending someone with a lesser role as an insult."

"Of course having you along will be a 'good idea'." Regardless of how informal, it was still a meeting so T'Shaini willed herself to not take his hand. "You have a warm, open, engaging demeanor which will be conducive to open negotiations."

Javier could feel his face get hot as the red showed on his cheeks. "Okay, I guess I should go then," the engineer said even though he still had some doubts. If I try not to be impetuous then maybe this will work in our favor. Like Burke said, think before I act. "I'll do my best."

As long as they didn't make him attempt diplomacy, Tenanji thought all might work to their advantage. "I will go along, as will Mr. Quincy… he can serve as pilot and security detail." He looked to his superior, "Will yourself or the captain be attending?"

"We will not," pronounced Nils, feeling mildly ashamed of the fact. The first tinges of the weight command bore settled on his gut. He didn't like it. "Now if no one has anything else?" No one did. "Then let's consider this settled." As the three moved towards the door Nils stepped close to T'Shaini. "If I could have a brief word with you in the corridor, Counselor?"

"Certainly." She turned to smile at Javier. "I will be but a moment."

Following T'Shaini, he paused then said, "I'll wait over there," pointing to one of the ugly yellow wall panels that was a few meters down the corridor. He walked a short distance when his commlink squawked. The Chief Engineer flipped the device open. =/\=Man the weather's so breezy, why can't life be this easy?=/\= someone sang into the commlink. "Hello?" Javier responded but the link went dead. That was odd.

"I'd like Dr. Munro to be the third member of the Hawking… Constitution Delegation," Nils began feeling somewhat humiliated at what he was about to ask. "But I though that considering recent events… Our personal situation… In any case, I thought it would be wise if you would pass along the request. Under the circumstances I'd rather not consider these orders."

"Of course." How could she say otherwise? The counselor ached for the two of them, the transformation he was going through had so much potential for collateral damage. T'Shaini reached out to put her hand on Nils shoulder. "I would be happy to."

"Again…thank you," he said softly. "Sorry, Javi," Nils called with a wave to the engineer who was fiddling with his comunit. "All done!"

"Tubesockular," Javier answered as he tried to get the comm device to repeat the last message. But the device had gone dead. He snapped it closed in disgust and waited for T'Shaini to draw close. "Thanks for the compliments," he said before lowering his head to place a soft kiss on her warm lips.

"Excuse me, just… ah, going to the armory… yes… right." Usher passed the couple as quickly as possible, eyes carefully averted.

"No compliment, just the truth." T'Shaini leaned in to brush her lips across his. Pulling back with a puzzled look on her face she looked around. "Hm, did you hear someone say something?"

The engineer's arms embraced the counselor, pulling her closer. "Nope," Javier said before kissing T'Shaini again. On a whim he picked her up and headed towards their quarters so they could extend their 'briefing' in a more secluded area.

A Joint Collision between Nilshainanjier…. HA figure THAT one out!!!
Originally Posted 5-30-2008 by Torrik Nils


Labored breathing echoing eerily through the holodeck recreation of the Anasari Maru, T'Shaini once again wrestled with Vanona Hawthorne, or what was once Vanona Hawthorne, there was nothing of her friend that remained in the twisted horror who sought the lives of the crew of the Hawking. The pain in her side, the blood in her mouth, the fear for all aboard all spurring her rage as they struggled with the knife. Suddenly she felt bones break beneath her hand, Bradley, Bradley who was threatening Javier and Lia and this time she had no intention of holding back, turning the blade she pierced the flesh beneath his chin and began to press upward. His hands, no…Vanona's hands pulled the knife back and began to wrest control from the Vulcan. Rage and self hatred mingled as the weapon began to turn in her hand beginning to press against Vanona's chest…her chest. Panic rising her eyes, T'Shaini looked up at the suited figure of Halcyon as she felt the knife split the skin over her sternum. Struggling vainly she felt the blood begin to flow around the blade, life seeping from her body as she cried. "Javier…Javier, no!" Her own shouting waking her, T'Shaini clutched at the sheets in an attempt to still the shaking.

His eye flew open as someone called to him. Javier bolted upright, his eyes searching for an intruder or a threat but nothing presented itself. Then he sensed a quiver in the bed and his gaze fell upon a shaking T'Shaini. "T'Shaini..honey, are you alright?" he asked gently as he embraced her. Javier pulled her closer to him. "You were dreaming?"

Shivering against his warmth she nodded, still unable to speak.

"But it was only a dream and nothing more," Javier told her softly. His hand stroked her hair. "Dreams aren't real so don't worry about things which have no bearing on reality." He dropped his head a few inches so he could kiss her cheek. With his other hand, Javier rubbed her back in a comforting manner. "Do you want to talk about it?"

She drew in a shuddering breath. "Real…so real." Her fingers plucked at the sheet. "Vanona, then Bradley…" Then wide eyed she looked back up at Javier. "then you."

"Ah," he said as T'Shaini listed off the first two names but his hands paused at the third. "Me? I was hurting you?"

Tears sprang to her eyes as she whispered…"yes."

"T'Shaini," he said, lowering his voice, "I would never hurt you." He used his fingertips to brush away her tears. "I would do whatever it took to keep you safe..it was a nightmare, nothing more.."

"I know, but so real." Once last shudder shook the Vulcan before she continued. "The worst part was not being hurt but me…hurting others, spiraling out of control." She held him tightly. "Does it ever fade?" T'Shaini pressed her face against his chest. "I cannot undo the past, I cannot undo Vanona's death, I know that, it is irrevocable." Then she tipped her head up seeking answers. "But does the need for it ever fade?"

"Eventually you come to realize that it was the decision you made and you live with it," Javier replied, his thoughts went to his past in the Corps. "As time passes, you'll think about it less," he hugged her tighter. "you just need more time."

The horror of the dream beginning to recede she leaned against him letting his calm wash over her. "Thank you." What could have triggered the nightmare? "I wonder what will be expected of us planet side, I am concerned that, much like the first beacon, this may prove more than we are prepared for."

"I'll be happy if it doesn't involve jumping out of a shuttle near a supernova," he commented. "From what I read in the file Nils sent around these people like to paint themselves all over," Javier looked down at T'Shaini and then lifted the bedsheet in order to 'see what the stork saw', "that might be fun."

She squeaked and pulled the sheet out of his hand, now that was ridiculous, it is not as if he has not seen it before… before giving in to the laughter that was no doubt his goal. "I would certainly prefer painting myself to…well, a myriad of things."

"Oh I meant I would paint you," he said with a grin, "you could be my Moaning T'Shaini."

"If you are referencing the Terran painter Da Vinci, I believe that would be 'Mona T'Shaini'." She corrected gently.

"But I'm referencing the way you.." Javier started to tease then changed his explanation as her cheeks grew flush, "right..my mistake Mona T'Shaini is what I meant."

T'Shaini felt her face heat, then torn between mortification, hilarity and an odd undertone of gratification responded in the only way she could think of…she hit him with the pillow.

JP The Counselor and her Counselor *smoooch*
Originally Posted 5-30-2008 by T'Shaini


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Crew Mess ::

Thoughts… Generally speaking, thoughts were Nils super power. After over two years serving in the Fleet and eight years studying the sciences both on Bajor and Earth, he discovered that with enough ingenuity and creativity all puzzles had a solution - at least all scientific puzzles. Sitting in the Mess and sipping a hot cup of Andorian Tea, he accepted the fact that some puzzles had no answers and some thoughts only made things more complex.

What with his devastated relationship with Jillian, and his inability to fully come to grips with his role as First Officer, the Bajoran felt overwhelmed. The hot tea was soothing, but did little to calm his overactive mind. His current obsession was riddled with self-doubt. Replaying the conversation with Usher Tenanji in the Security Office, he second-guessed his decision to box the pilfered Intel. After all, who was this boy from Bajor to argue with a hardened Starfleet Security Officer over security issues? He was a scientist, damnit.

Sighing deeply he let it go. He’d made a full report to the Captain and sent it to his ready room. If the decision needed undoing, Nathan Benjamin was the teen to do it.

Lady Cutsforth caught his eye as she passed carrying her own mug of what he presumed was hot tea. Thankfully she didn’t stop, but pat his head as she passed. Her tight approving smile irked him, mostly because he felt so undeserving of it. He politely inclined his head to her as she carried on about her business.

“I can’t wait for the details any longer.” Bayal Paven stealthily took the seat opposite the surprised First Officer. “Since you’ve mentioned your Pagh’Tem’Far I can think of little else…”

“I saw the Emissary,” Nils said simply, putting his hot cup on the table. He was in no mood for preamble or idle chatter. At the very least this conversation would take his mind off what ailed him. At most, Bayal may have some insight that could shed light on…well…everything. “He was on what’s called a baseball field and we spoke about baseball. He likened it to life…and then he told me to ‘be both’. Both scientist and devoted follower of the Prophets… At least that’s what I think he was referring to.”

Bayal was silent and utterly stunned for a long moment. The two men regarded each other over steaming tea.

“Before this,” began Bayal earnestly. “Before this you could not be both? You were only a scientist?”

“I’ve been only a scientist for as long as I can remember. My training only gave voice to the mindset I adopted when I was a young boy. The Prophets were the ‘worm hole aliens,’ he said summing up his old system of belief. “They were due no more thanks or veneration than Betazoids or Caradassians. They were just another species…though different.”

“And what changed that… The Pagh’Tem’Far?”

Nils shook his head. “No,” he said honestly. “I’ve been drifting slowly back to the Prophets since I…” Kai Opaka’s premonition “…came through the Celestial Temple.”

“Why do you let your destiny torture you?” Bayal Paven uttered the profound and disturbing question as if he were ordering Tikellian ham from a replicator.

“I don’t,” snapped Nils defensively.

“You do,” the holy man snapped back. “Your past and your future are your destiny. One is set and one is not… It is you who must make a choice and then be glad in that choice.”

“I never made a choice to be First Officer,” Nils seethed, his venom a shock even unto himself.

“Some choices are not yours to make. But you do choose what to do with those decisions handed down to you. We are all men under authority… All beings must bow to something greater than themselves.” Bayal was passionate and it burned his words.

“I just feel so powerless,” Nils admitted, dropping his head. “Things around me dictate every move I make. Whether it be regulations, or the Prophets… Or the Captain or Jillian. I don’t feel in control of my own destiny.”

“To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that’s the real power,” Bayal pronounced boldly, sitting up tall in his chair. “People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.”

The man’s words pierced Nils’ Pagh. Not only did it fully chastise him for his earlier complaint about thinking too much about things that were too hard, but it echoed what Counselor T’Shaini had been trying to say all along. Only somehow the tormented Bajoran had missed it. He was blinded between moments of clarity and abominable self-pity.

“I want to…” Nils suddenly realized he didn’t really know what he wanted. He wanted Jillian. He wanted to explore. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. He wanted to do his duty. So many wants tugging him in all kinds of directions. And these paths obscured the Path that he’d been seeking since his brother died. “I want to do the right thing,” he uttered sadly. “But the right thing is a puzzle… It may not even be possible.

“A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving,” the holy man said, his tone softening. “Nils you are lost because truth is your ultimate goal. Whether you realize it or not, you are seeking truth,” Bayal smiled and nodded as he spoke. “But the truth is not for all men.”

“The truth isn’t for me,” Nils asked feeling downtrodden and defeated. His brow fell low and his head tilted in confusion.

“The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it,” Bayal finished. “You find what you seek, Torrik Nils. And if your life has been filled with torment, one must wonder from whence it comes. Is it the Prophets who dole it out to you so freely? Is it the universe conspiring against you? Or is there someone much closer,” he smiled. “Is there someone right here in this room…right there in your head,” he added touching his index finger to Nils forehead. “Is it you, who brings torment on yourself?”

Nils couldn’t answer. T’Shaini was right. He needed to speak to this man.

“You’ve let your morality dictate your feelings… You’ve let your estimation of faith bring you torment. When the Prophets failed you, you began failing yourself and others. It was an excuse to insulate and isolate and hide.” Bayal stopped. He stood up and began to leave. Before he was gone he added one parting shot. “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.”

Then one Bajoran left another alone. The next step in his journey was revealed.

Featuring NPC Bayal Paven
Originally Posted 5-30-2008 by Torrik Nils


USS Constitution
Deck 5

Jen was walking through a kind of grey… she'd jumped onto the turbolift, joining (again) Chuck, along with a couple other civilians who'd apparently been visiting the bridge in the company of Lieutenant Hillman. She'd exited with a handful of the visitors the moment the 'lift stopped, not noticing nor caring which deck they were on. She needed to get away from Nate and, more, Hillman had a way of looking at a person as if he could see every thought running through their heads.

She really didn't want anyone to see what was running through hers.

So she sped blindly away from the 'lift and the passengers, following the curving corridor until… "Shit! Sorry, sorry! Fenton?" she backed off from the young man she'd just barreled into.

Hi Eve..Evangeline..Miss Kennedy..no Eve sounds better, I was just on my way to get a drink..go bowling and I was wondering if you would like to go with me? You like computers and I like computers so we could talk about computers..that sounds horrible, Fenton thought as he paced up and down the deck where his 'crush' was quartered. Maybe Kal-El's pickup line would work? 'Hey Baby, want to help overclock my motherboard?' No, I'd get my face slapped. Eve, we should discuss duotronics..over dinner? Yes! He did a quick one-eighty and increased his pace so his courage wouldn't fail him before he reached the civilian engineer's door. Now be cool..act confident..

"Oh hell," Fenton exclaimed as he ran head first into a blur of red. "Jenny?" Explanation. "Hi..I was just..walking. How are you?" Lame.

"Great.. fine… peachy…" she looked around quickly to make sure no one else was around. Technically, she was supposed to be in the Captain's mess, or her quarters. "You?" Keep it casual…

"Pretty good..no complaints..er well okay," Fenton replied. Jenny looked far from peachy. "Is something wrong?"

The bitter gasp of a laugh burst out before she could stop it, "Sorry," she said again. "It's just… I'm starting to feel like Typhoid Mary," at the non-Terran's blank expression she shrugged, "Everyone I touch gets damaged," she explained, quietly then she looked more closely at Fenton, who seemed a bit flustered, "has there been anymore fallout, from…"

"Oh," Fenton said. He looked around and then said, "Ben told me not to tell them I was involved but I told the Chief anyway..he was..unhappy?" The cadet gave the chararistic Boyce shrug. "So what if it goes on my record, not being an officer isn't the end of my career." His eyes settled on a certain door down the corridor and Fenton was about to excuse himself when he remembered what BHP had told him. "You should have another talk with Ben. He's feeling a bit more receptive now..and it only took one punch."

She listened, his easy dismissal of his career just another shovelful of guilt. She felt herself going cold at the idea of talking to Ben, who'd made it more than clear that her aid was unwelcome but… "Punch?" The visual accompanying that one word brought her upright. "What… who… punch…?" She tilted her head at the young man, "You didn't," but before Fenton could confirm or deny, reality set in, "But, no. I mean… look, he doesn't want me… my help. And, thing is," she leaned against the wall, "if I try I might make things worse."

"Actually you're probably the only one who can make things better for him," Fenton commented before forging ahead. "He's trying to do the right thing, but he doesn't realize that just because we didn't grow up around fast cars and timmyguns, doesn't mean that we can't take care of ourselves." Fenton wanted to say more but realized that whatever else he could tell was up to Ben to say, not him. "Talk to him or don't, it's your choice. As for messing up my life..I'm perfectly capable of doing that on my own," Cadet Boyce said as he tugged his uniform straight, "if you'll excuse me I'm feeling like I've got nothing to lose now." He smiled and said, "Evangeline Kennedy here I come."

As her friend made his way to greater conquests, Jen made a note to herself to look up 'timmyguns' in the historical weapons archive. She walked away, headed back towards the turbolift. Talk to Ben… right. Well, she'd put it on her list of 'fun things to do' right after ' sticking a fork in her eye'. Still, it sounded like there was something BHP needed to say… at least Fenton thought he did. So, fine, she'd go talk to him as soon as she was, officially, free from her quarters. There'd be plenty of time before she was due on-shift.

Featuring NPC's Fenton Boyce and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 5-30-2008 by Javier Costala


::USS Constitution::
::Sickbay::

Jillian stared into the eyes of the counselor before replying, "I have to admit, I'm a little surprised that you're asking me, T'Shaini." The Doctor leaned back in her office-chair and sighed, "Don't get me wrong, I welcome the opportunity, I just figured that…." She paused, wondering whether to continue, She's the counselor, she'll understand, she took a deep breath, "…he's avoiding me, isn't he."

How do I answer this? T'Shaini's shook her head lightly. "I believe he thought it would be far more awkward for you if he placed the request in person. The Dosi are extremely rank conscious and he and Nathan thought it best that you were a part of the delegation." The truth is always good.

"Makes sense", she replied with a sharp nod, "I look forward to the test. Do we know much about the mission in general?" She asked.

"Nothing." T'Shaini spoke flatly then winced. "I suppose I should be more accepting, but I find it disconcerting to say the least, after what transpired with the first beacon."

"Yes, this race is certainly turning out to be more than just a battle of speed", she crossed her arms and hugged her chest, "This may sound strange, ironic even considering I crew on a starship, but I'm really not a fan of the unknown. I hate not knowing which hypospray I should be bringing with us," a smile crept up from the corner of her mouth, "I'm not joking either. I already feel so unprepared."

An answering smile appeared on the Vulcan's face. "I agree, and unprepared and Vulcan are two words that should not be allowed to co-exist."

A joint post by T'Shaini & Jills
Originally Posted 5-30-2008 by Jillian Munro


USS Constitution
Saunders/Anderson Quarters

Jenny Anderson leaned back in her chair and studied the wall, which she knew knew knew she shouldn’t be defacing but the scrawled notes were helping her focus and focus was key right now. Focus kept her from going back into the mess and replaying the scene with Nate… with the captain, over and over, trying to find the spot where she could have turned it, changed its direction to a less hurtful destination but time and again she missed the signpost.

So she stared at facts and dates and holes in data instead.

Next to her original reminder to ask Tenanji to check passenger manifests for DS-9 over a two week period, she’d added some random news bytes from that same time frame. ‘Unexplained com blackout from 60471.6 - 60474.2’; ‘wormhole activated 60470…’; 'Guest's lucky streak breaks bank at the Dabo tables… 60476.8'.

Individually they meant nothing but the timing coincided with the first rumblings of a regatta in the Gamma Quadrant. Whomever had first proposed the idea had been there, she was almost sure. She just had to convince her Lieutenant it was worth checking into. Assuming he’d listen to anything she said after tonight’s Captain-sponsored intervention.

And look how well that had turned out.

She turned back to the computer screen. Three hours gone and she still felt ill. Better than crying though, right? Because that had gotten old real damn fast.

Whatever… there were still a ton of old articles and press releases by Command to review. Now she had a root, she was willing to bet the rest of the tree started to take shape.

~Two hours later~

Darby Saunders breezed into the room after a long shift and some quality down time in the lounge to see Jen, head down on the desk, fast asleep. The computer screen had dimmed and the wall behind the desk was covered in handwriting. Mostly dates and distant events but at the bottom her clearly insane roomie had written, ‘Reminder, stick fork in eye (BHP)’.

“We are soooo gonna get it,” Saunders whispered, falling to her bunk.

Featuring NPC's Darby Saunders and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 5-31-2008 by Harry Finn


BHP's Quarters-
-USS Constitution-

"One hundred and two. One hundred and three. I wonder how long it will take to reach the Outpost at warp 7? One hundred and four. Warp 7 at a distance of 118 545 kilometers..no that's not right..can't be. One hundred and five. You have to calculate the distance plus the extra kilometers for each stop-over. One hundred and six." His arms were killing him but short of doing push-ups and trying to calculate how much longer he would be confined to quarters, there was nothing else BHP could do to entertain himself. He had tried everything else. "One hundred and sev..sev..one hundred and sev.." his left arm refused to snap straight. "C'MON!"

The elbow stayed crooked. "Traitor," BHP exhaled as he let himself down. I used to do those pretty easily. the crewman thought as he breathed into the 400 year old carpet. Something in the material made him cough. Old. Everything about this ship is old. The sooner we got off this ship the better. He turned over and stared up at the ceiling.."how many more days to go?" BHP asked himself.

"Depends on how long it takes to get each beacon," Jenny took some wall, leaned against it while BHP recovered from whatever he'd been doing, "and if the Connie's engines can continue to function at optimal level between beacons which, being down one engineer, I don't know… she's been feeling kind of off, lately."

"You just kind of sneak up on a guy," Pierce said from the floor. He sat up and grinned. "Not that I'm complaining, you're my first visitor in days..well hours, but it seems like days. Did you come by to have dinner with me? The Chief was here for breakfast."

"Thanks but no," she huffed out a breath, uncertain now how smart she'd been to listen to Fenton, "I just, wondered if you'd… ah…" hell, "Are you ready to tell me who or what's got you so spooked you won't let anyone get near you? Or do you intend to disappear and let whoever it is win?"

Ben frowned and looked down at the deck. The Chief's advice came to him but he still had doubts. Will they..will Jenny still be my friend after I tell her? the engineer wondered as he stood to his feet. Fenton took the news pretty well. But his background was sort of similar. "Are you still looking? I mean, I know I told you to leave it alone but I know you're stubborn too..are you looking into it?"

"Strong-willed," she corrected absently, looking around the room, "Mules are stubborn and, anyway, what I'm doing is what I was doing before, but sanctioned, this time. LT gave me the go-ahead to review all the data I'd requested and I've got some possible leads and some kind of weird events around a diplomatic summit at DS-9, last year. I can't get to the attendees but I think Tenanji can," she shrugged, "if it turns out that one of the people from that summit is responsible for what's happening to you, how is it bad that I went digging?"

If they're holding me for what I think they are," Pierce said, closing the space between them by a step, "then it could be very bad..for me." It was almost as if she didn't want to look at him. He understood why. "I'd like to tell you why..if it matters," the young engineer started before his words died off. "But first," he started, "I want you to know that I appreciate your help. I didn't mean what I said to you, I did partly in that I wanted you to leave the situation alone because I didn't want you in harm's way. For what it's worth, I think you're a fine security officer..you're the cat's meow." Ben fidgeted, rubbing the knuckles of his left hand with his right. "That means really great on my planet."

She was a bit at a loss, partly because she didn't get how Ben couldn't see how very bad things were for him now and partly due to his sudden turn towards flattery. It wasn't an area of discussion she was comfortable in; for now, distance was key. "I appreciate the sentiment," she told him, meeting his eyes, "but if you really thought that highly of me, you'd stop hiding. I don't know what's got you so twisted, I don't know what you're trying to protect me from but I can say that I'll be a lot less at risk if I know what might be coming."

"The people who brought this down on me have a very long reach," BHP explained, "what they have on me is from years ago, before I joined Starfleet, before the marines..it was how I became 'made' on my homeworld." The engineer paused then said, "They know something that only members of my family would know..members of the syndicate, and that's nigh impossible because usually when people talk they get whacked." He saw the confusion and the question on her features. "Bumped off? Taken for a ride?" BHP tried before settling with "Killed."

"These are people who have enough influence to circumvent the strict orders of my family..or what used to be my family," the Iotian tried to explain, "I've never known any outsider who did that..except Captain Kirk."

"Obviously you haven't been keeping up with the times," Anderson commented, visions of Acker dancing through her head. "Believe me, if anyone ever wanted to learn anything about you, me, Kal-El or 110 and 111, there are people, well, excuses for people, who know all kinds of ways to get it." She tilted her head, eying him coolly, "But since I don't have access to whatever these people carry in their pockets, I need you to tell me… tell me, now… what they have on you."

"It's..maybe if I explained what it's like on Sigma Iotia she'd understand..in order to be 'made' you have to do something big for the family. The 'made' men are always the best earners, the ones who bring in the most dough..cash or the ones who have certain skills that the family needs," BHP told her. "I wasn't good enough with a heater to be a hit-man and I didn't care for killing all that much, so I had to be a good earner to be made." Ben averted his eyes and fidgetted. "The family likes cash or weapons..the one with the best weapons can take more territory and get more money." Cut to the chase. "I planned a raid..a heist, no one was supposed to get hurt. I'd planned it at a time when the workers were supposed to be off shift."

The engineer retreated and sat down on the edge of his bed. "We used explosives to get in..there must have been something inside the depot that ignited and..there were three workers inside. They were dead..two were, I tried to save the third..she died." BHP shifted uncomfortably as the memory of what the young woman looked like in her last minutes returned to him. "The heist got the family the weapons they wanted and I was made, but it was never how I wanted it." Ben put his head in his hands. "The people were Starfleet..the heist was on one of their depots."

She'd closed her eyes early in the narrative… it didn't take an oracle to figure out where the story was going but it helped her try to see the situation, see the problem rather than focusing on Ben's obvious regret, his sorrow and close-held guilt. Those were enough to break her heart if she'd let them but Jen couldn't allow her own feelings to cloud her perspective. "Why were they there?" she asked, her eyes still closed. "The depot, you cased it pretty thoroughly, right?" She opened her eyes, started to pace the room, "Of course you did, it's you… so why break their pattern?" She stopped in front of him, "You're right," she said, "it's bad… very bad… but it's not cyber-terrorism and it's… it's complicated and it's harsh and I'm sorry you had to do it… but for now…" for now, what? What could she offer him that would somehow make this better?

BHP shook his head. "I don't know why they were there..the woman tried to speak..the others that were with me just ran to get the weapons. They were ecstatic about their big score. It didn't seem to matter that those people had died." He looked up at her. "I really hate my homeworld." He stood up abruptly so he could look into her eyes. "I understand if you don't want to hang out with me anymore."

And suddenly we're in school. "Yes, well, I can see how that might be a bummer, even more than the impending lifetime imprisonment on some unknown rock," she threw a casual punch at his arm, "But if it's all the same to you, I'd like it if you could record… no, sorry… write down everything you remember about the job…. how long it was planned, who knew about it," she caught his look of alarm, "use code names if it makes you feel better. Just write down everything and I'll pick it up after my shift. Something was off about that heist and, yeah, it's sticky because Iotians took out a Federation site but that's for the politicians…" Jen paused for breath, realized he was staring. "I know your partners didn't think those people mattered but I also know that you do… you know they mattered and that makes you…" she stopped, words failing, and then Jenny broke her own resolve by taking his hand, "you're not like them," she finally told their linked hands.

In spite of himself, Pierce smiled. "Knowing you think that, I could go to prison and not really mind." That sounded like the ending to a bad movie. "I mean I would settle for not going to prison and you thinking that too," he reiterated as his fingers entertwined with Jenny's. "I would most deffinitely not want to go to prison..I mean, thank you."

She dug a grin up from somewhere, "Don't thank me, yet," she disengaged her fingers and moved towards the door, "thank me when we've gotten you out of this mess. " She turned back before the door slid open, "Write it all down. I'll be back in the morning."

"Oh I don't think tomorrow's good for me I'll be trying to break my sit-up record," BHP quipped. "Do me a favor, ask Kal-El what flavor of oatmeal is his favorite then tell me what sort of face he makes?" he asked, finding himself in better spirits and ready to get out of his 'cage'. Chief, I owe you one.

Featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 6-2-2008 by Javier Costala


The Megiddo Regatta - Yesteryear

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