Belladonna The Lady Of The Rocks

"Morning Oakley," Javier responded to the engineer's greeting. He had arrived at Main Engineering just in time to see a security team leave. "What was security doing here?"

"Running some sort of scan, they wouldn't tell us what for, just made everyone clear out.." Heather smiled at the Chief Engineer, if only for moment. He was a likable fellow even if he had been a jar-head. In Heather's opinion, Jar-head was almost as bad as security cretin. But Costala wasn't your typical jar-head, he didn't strut and pose like most of the ones she had met and he seemed to know what he was talking about. Well, most of the time anyway.

"What?" Javier said in disbelief. "You're saying there wasn't anyone in Engineering while the security team was here..who gave that order?"

"Don't know Sir, but Ensign Obatu wouldn't leave. Said at least one engineer should be present at all times in Engineering..and I agree," Heather answered, finally able to show someone that mattered how displeased she was about the whole thing.

"Damn straight," the Chief replied then headed toward his office. "Keep up the good work Oakley." Javier found Ajani in the Chief of Engineer's Office. Ajani slid out of the chair he had been holding down and moved away from the monitor and console. Javier took the chair and waited, his hand lingered over the console. Something didn't feel right, the whole idea of a message from home flooded the engineer with nervousness. The last time he had spoken with his parents had not been pleasant. Javier shifted his chair and exhaled, he looked up to find Ajani waiting at the door. "Can I help you?"

"I found something..," Ajani started to say.

"Not here," Javier said firmly, "we'll talk later. Take care of it if you can..or I'll be finished in here in a few minutes." Minutes..I already wish it was over. "Just go ahead, get one of the new engineers to help you..Tehamia should know what to do." After Ajani had left, Javier locked the doors, ensuring privacy then brought up the message. His father appeared on the screen, but he was not the same man Javier had spoken with a few months before. Timetao Costala's face was gaunt and his eyes were red and swollen from lack of sleep. Has he been crying?

"Papa? What is wrong?" Javier questioned, forgetting that the older Costala could not hear him.

"Javier, my son, when you receive this.." his father's voice cracked and the man put his hands over his face. Javier inhaled sharply. Ma-ma..no. Then he heard his mother weeping in the background. "It's been a week since she went missing and today the authorities found..," Timetao continued, his voice strained until it stopped. God no! Javier's breathing quickened and his hands clenched into fists repeatedly. "They say it was an animal, perhaps a bear that killed her..my son, I..we only looked away for a few minutes and she was with her cousins, we thought she was safe.." His father began to cry again. "Lia..she..we searched everywhere…"

"NO. No!" His hand became a fist and Javier slammed it against the console. "Don't say it Papa," he said, pushing away from the console. Javier was on his feet in an instant, pacing back and forth in front of his father's image on the monitor screen. "Don't say it…" He told his father angrily. Tears began to stream down his face. "She's okay, she's okay," the engineer repeated to himself. "Just tell me Lia is okay."

"Javier," his father closed his eyes, "Lia is dead..the authorities matched the blood found on her clothing to.."

The console monitor sparked and failed as Javier put his fist through it. "You're lying! You're ****ing lying!" Javier yelled as he withdrew his bleeding hand with two broken fingers from the wreckage of the system. "She called me Daddy and you hated that. She knew who I was…" the engineer said as he staggered back, ran into the chair behind him and fell to the deck.

The audio kept playing. "She asked for you. We showed her your message and she asked for you. I hope you can forgive your mother and I, god knows I will never forgive myself.." The message ended abruptly.

She knew I was her father.. the engineer thought as he held his injured hand. Javier began to weep as the memories of his daughter, Lia, filled his thoughts. He ignored the shouts and pounding of fists on his door. Nor did he see Ajani peering through the clear windows, searching the room for him.

=^=Ensign Obatu to Transporter Chief, Medical Emergency, lock on to the Chief Engineer's commbadge and transport him to Sickbay.=^= Ajani requested then watched as Javier was engulfed in the transporter's bright light.

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-10-2008


USS Hawking
Corridor Outside Sickbay

“Report.”

Gran gave a short nod, “Sirs, no suspicious activity in the area. The patient,” the Tellarite paused as, unbelievably, his face wrinkled yet further, “Lieutenant Torrik expired but recent reports from the staff indicate he was successfully revived. Lieutenant Grissom has arrived, and Counselor T’Shaini is also inside, sir,” he nodded to Finn, “as per your request, and…” now he slid a glance towards the captain, “the labs have also proven secure.”

Harry noted Jenny’s expression on that last. She didn’t look at him, it was, in fact, the way she wasn’t looking at him that made him feel uneasy.

Yup, Jen thought, nothing but awkward meetings. On Hawking there were two people who meant something to her: one was family and the other was… distracting - her brain settled on the inadequate word while her body underwent a sudden warming trend… and they had to both show up while she was on the job? This ship may not big enough for the three of us. Hearing Gran's carefully edited report on Dr. Schaeffer's disposition she blanked her expression. If Harry didn't want her to know, well, fine, she wouldn't know. She didn't dare look at Nate. He had to be as much in 'captain' mode as she was supposed to be in 'security'. Crap. Seth Anderson's daughter took a slow, deep breath and shoved her feelings back and to the side, where they'd just have to keep until she was free to deal with them.

“If it’s all the same to you, Sar,” Jackson cut in, looking to his young captain, “Ah’ll just go on in an get meself tested…”

Harry was about to request permission to follow the older man when he was interrupted by another fatal ‘boop’, followed by an immediate transmission.

=/\=Samantha Quincy to Ensign Finn=/\=

This was just getting out of hand. =/\= Finn, here.=/\=

=/\=Harry, I’m sorry to disturb you but… we’ve just received an odd… there’s this transmission. It’s a vid of you and Autumn and Kadence on the holodeck but there’s a… message… scrolling beneath…=/\=

=/\=What does it say?=/\= Wow, he sounded calm. Maybe it was because his heart had just stopped beating.

=/\=’Good night, ladies, good night sweet ladies, good night, good night…’ and it repeats.=/\=

=/\=Sam? This is important, please get yourself and the girls out of the room, go to the corridor and wait for a security team to arrive.=/\= He looked at the captain, silently asking permission, which he received in the form of a sharp, worried nod, =/\= I’m on the way, too. Finn out.=/\=

“I’ll report as soon as I know anything,” he said, throwing one last, warning glance at Jenny, who did meet his eyes this time. She had the good sense to be concerned… he just hoped he understood for whom she should be worried. No time for that now. On the move, he tapped his badge, once more, =/\=Finn to Ensign Jereen, what’s your twenty?=/\=

As Finn departed, Gorsky realized that he had pretty much no reason to be where he was. And Dana was inside. And the captain didn’t seem to be moving.

Oookay.

“I’ll just, go in and see, ah, how Lieutenant Torrik is doing?” he edged towards the door, past the two sentries and ducked in before anyone could say no. Stealth Gorsky, on the go.

And then there were three.

Let's see, there's Harry, and Alex, and Jenny and Gran and Jackson and the Captain…

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-11-2008


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

Dana hovered protectively over Nils' inert form. She offered smiles and expressions of comfort to the busy staff around her, but spoke to no one. It was hard to miss how haggard Jillian looked. Her heart went out to the Chief Medical Officer. As hard as it was to see the Bajoran laid out in this way, she knew it must be doubly as hard for Jillian.

Drawing in a slow and cleansing breath she put her hand on Nils' bare shoulder and willed him to get better. From her understanding it had been worse than touch and go for a while. He'd literally been plucked from the brink of oblivion. Biting her lip, she let her concern for her Chief begin to overwhelm her.

He hadn't expected the emotional punch in the gut at the vision of Dana, standing next to their unconscious CO. Until recently he'd only seen her in good spirits… a vivacious and warm presence, she'd seen past the geek armor that Alex usually lived behind, not because he hated people but because most people just didn't get him. Even the brief spate of popularity he'd garnered after being part of Finn's haunted house had been kind of… it hadn't been based on anything real. But here was a woman who not only had the kind of smile that made a guy think of a planetside summer, she had the smarts to hold up her end of a debate on the effects of sentient life on planetary geological development.

"Hey," greatly daring, he slid next to where she stood, hand on the Bajoran's shoulder, wrapped in sorrow.

Dana slowly turned her head, and offered up a somber greeting, "Hi there." For a very brief moment she consumed his presence with her gaze. His unassuming nature that made him so easy to be around also provided a good measure of comfort. She removed her hand from Nils' shoulder and cradled it in her other one. "He looks like he's sleeping," she said softly, turning back to the biobed on which the Lieutenant lay.

"You know," Alex said, keeping his voice low, "I never saw the inside of sickbay until Finn bunked with me… I didn't have any friends… who'd been hurt," he nodded towards the quiescent Torrik, "like this. And even then I felt stupid coming by but T'Shaini," he nodded towards where the counselor now sat, on the other side of the room, "said it helps them… the patients, it helps them to know people here want them to stay." He slid his own hand atop hers, "You're helping him, right now."

She smiled, keeping her eyes on her friend and department head. "I like to think so," she said making her hands available for him to take. "It's hard for me to imagine you not having any friends," she added, turning to face him. As always her tone and countenance exuded warmth and sincerity. "You must not realize the trust you engender."

"Ahh," he felt something weird happening… was this what blushing felt like? "You didn't… you don't know what I was like, what I'm… like…" he ducked his head, unable to face that level of pure acceptance… something he'd never experienced. "I'm not a that great a guy… I… maybe you should…"

"Take it easy, sport," she interjected, trying to end his misery. She showered him with a full smile. "It's a good thing, and a compliment. No need to tell me all your deep dark secrets…yet." She took another breath and one last look at Lt. Torrik. "Let's get out of here," she commented stepping away from the biobed. "I'm sure the staff has plenty to do without our commiserating in their way."

"Wait," Alex didn't know what possessed him but, sometimes you just have to say what the… "wait." He kept her hands and gently pulled her behind the partially drawn privacy curtain. Continuing to pull her close, closer, he prayed the inner voice prompting him wasn't as much of an idiot as he felt. They were very near in height, which, as her face tipped slightly up, eyes welcoming, was very, very nice.

Feeling slightly intoxicated by the deep pools of chocolate Alex had for eyes, Dana felt herself drifting closer to his face. Her eyes fluttered slightly and she drew back suddenly. After catching herself before full surrender to the moment of weakness she turned her shoulder to him. There was no reason for her to feel guilty, but Lincoln's visage plagued her. "Can we go somewhere…private." She looked around at the privacy curtain before continuing, "more private, I mean…"

Alex fought down the immediate sense of rejection her turning away had spurred. She wouldn't want to be alone with him if she was repulsed, right? Right.

Right. But, at the same time, he had to leave her an out… maybe, shit, maybe whatever was going on with her and Purcell was still going on? If anything was going on, and no one had actually said anything was going on but still… chill. "The rec room," he blurted, then remembered where they were and had a sudden vision of Lieutenant Torrik growling at them to get out and let him rest, by all the Prophets. He dropped his voice, again, "It's late and mostly only the kids hang out there…"

"Perfect," she jumped in. "That…sounds perfect." With little fanfare and only a brief acknowledgment to the crew gathered in sickbay, Dana took the initiative and led them to the exit. Keeping her head low she tried to make as little spectacle as possible as they passed the lone security officer remaining outside the door. The tellarite seemed to pay them no mind. Once they were well on their way, Dana paused and wrapped her arm around Alex's as he caught up to her. The circumstances had her feeling vulnerable and she wanted to feel his warmth.

Following his newly-born instincts Gorsky wasted no more time as he dropped a gentle kiss on Dana's hand, linked with his. Since that went well enough (she didn't hit him) he decided to try again (just to make sure it hadn't been a fluke… experimentation is important), and this time he went for broke… that is, her lips. To his surprise and intense satisfaction, the experiment rapidly became a mutual study and, from the sighs slowly rising from Dana's throat, it sounded like they were well on their way to a positive result.

Finally rising for air, the two realized that the other was grinning. "I forgot where we were going," he finally admitted.

"Uhhhhh…" she started, lost in the moment. Forcing her eyes open she continued, "Rec room… It's late… And the kids hang out…" She snuggled herself into his arms. She noticed how much shorter than Lincoln he was and relished the fact that she didn't have to strain her ankles to get a good grip on him. They fit together nicely. "But quite honestly it doesn't matter where we go. I just sortuv want to…be with you."

"That's.. that's a good thing," he couldn't stop grinning. "Tell you what," he continued, enjoying the way their hands linked so well as they continued towards the turbolift, "let's go up to the rec and, whoever wins at Scrabble gets to buy the coffee?"

A JP by Harry and Nils…only that would be wierd so they are playing the rolls of Alex and Dana respectively.

Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 02-11-2008


USS Hawking
Office ComSecOps - Deck 14

Approximately one hour after Harry got the call from Samantha Quincy

“… the Quincy’s rooms were clean,” Finn was saying as he strode about the room, yo-yo spiraling and jaw tight, “just the transmission.”

“And there was no source?” Lieutenant Hawthorn drew her eyes from the constant and dizzying spin of the wooden dome.

“Nothing. We only know it was internal.” He caught the toy up in his hand and held it, knuckles going white, “I’ve assigned Jereen to them, a personal detail. She won’t need to sleep for a good two days, but we’ll need to break her just for sanity’s sake… that Scout can talk.”

“I’ll have Saunders…”

“No, not her.” Harry realized how that sounded, sighed, looked at his 2IC, “None of the old hands on this.”

Vanona tilted her head, then carefully placed the PADD she’d been holding on the desk, “Sir, will all due respect, I believe it is time I knew what the qu'vatlh is going on.”

He still wasn’t used to her calling him ‘sir’. Harry shook it off, “You’re right… past time… and not just you,” he looked down at the object in his hand… so like the one he’d given Autumn; just a toy, a token, something to distract the kid while the Hawking had been lost. But it had been enough for Acker to know he cared. “Call a briefing… senior staff not on post, for,” he glanced at the wall chrono, "1830," that gave him a couple hours to prep. "As soon as it’s set up, come back here. I’ll get you up to speed so you can give the next brief, top of Alpha.”

“Sir,” still far from satisfied, Hawthorn made to exit.

“Vanona?”

Startled by the sound of her given name, the hybrid froze, turning to see Finn’s troubled expression. “Chief?”

“You’re not going to like what you hear.”

Her posture relaxed as she shook her head, “Finn, I doubt you could tell me anything that’s worse than what I’ve been imagining.” And then she left to call up the troops.

Alone, Harry looked at the space where she’d been. “Wanna bet?”

Featuring NPC Lieutenant Vanona Hawthorn

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-12-2008


T'Shaini felt the brightness on the other side of her lids and let it seep in before she opened her eyes. Looking up at the sweet faced Doctor Stryfe, is she really old enough to be a doctor, she skipped the overused of 'where am I' and cut right to the chase. "Any passengers?"

"Nope, looks like you are free and clear."

T'Shaini had felt reasonable certain, once the possibility of the personality graft had been explained to her, that it was unlikely that she was the carrier, but it was better to be certain. First lifting up onto her elbow to test whether her equilibrium was up to the task of rising, T'Shaini then sat up and swung her legs over the side of the biobed. "Lt. Torrik, may I request an update on his status?"

T'Shaini watched the young doctor put one hand on her hip considering, no doubt, the propriety of her question.

"It was I who discovered him, his welfare is of some concern to me. I heard the situation was touch and go" The counselor extended.

Dr. Stryfe nodded. "More than touch and go, Dr. Munro was amazing, we lost him and she brought him back. He is sleeping now." She then ran the scanner once more over T'Shaini. "You are clear, you can go and I will let security know you have been tested."

T'Shaini swung her legs pondering how intrusive it would be for her to check on Nils before she left. I will stay as much out of the way as possible. Scooting forward, she hopped off the biobed and located Nils, the fact that Jillian was no where to be seen was possibly the most reassuring part of the picture. She had no doubt that if he were still in danger that the doctor would be by his side. Folding her hands, T'Shaini closed her eyes and stood peacefully by the injured man, thoughts of healing flooding her. After some time a rush of activity from the outside pulled her from her focus. Opening her eyes she watched as someone was beamed into sickbay, hand broken and bleeding.

*blinkblink*

I just left him…how could he have gotten hurt in so short a time?

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-12-2008


USS Hawking
Main Security Office - Deck 14

Conclusion, Senior Staff Briefing

"Suffice it to say," Finn concluded, "that by end of shift, everyone on Hawking will know there's a spook on board, a spook who's been on the vessel for at least the past eight months. Knowing there's a spook on board, we can also rest assured that fingers will be pointing and if fingers are pointing it's a short trip to fists flying which means not only do we have to find said spook, we also have to keep the ship from imploding," he looked over the small group, his two Lieutenants and senior NCO's, most of whom were, thankfully, new hands. "That's it, people. Get to your teams, work out the patrols and," he eyeballed one of the new guys, "Jenkins, a word in my office?" Without waiting for a reply, Harry left the room.

Elliot’s search party had returned empty handed. Not a trace of explosives, an odd reading or even a scuff on the carpet. Everything was in near perfect order, apart from a slight surge in an EPS relay that had been reported to the engineering department. The former Marine had checked with the repair team and it turned out to be a normal malfunction. With a sigh he turned his attention back to the briefing, the chief of security had confirmed everyone’s suspicions, there was indeed a sleeper on board. The atmosphere in the room changed dramatically, every member of security knew the finger pointing would begin; it was just a matter of time before the word spread. At the end of the briefing Elliot rose from his chair to leave, but it would seem he had caught the attention of his new commanding officer. He complied with the request and followed the man into his office. Standing at a polished attention he said:

“Senior Chief Jenkins, reporting as ordered, sir” Elliot was eager to meet his new CO, and interested to see what was on his mind.

"At ease, Jenkins," Finn didn't bother to sit but took a comfortable stance on the business side of the desk, where he lifted a PADD he'd received prior to the briefing, "I hear from Burgess," he looked back towards the other man, "that you took some serious initiative, last shift. Got yourself a team and made a sweep of decks 7, 9 and 11. No worries, Chief," taking in the carefully blank expression before him, Harry almost smiled, "I like initiative. Know what I like even more than initiative?"

Elliot eased from his stiff attention as he listened to his senior. There was something quite disconcerting about this man, he was serious, confident, but there was also something underneath it all, a missing link his new commanding officer hid extremely well. That made Elliot slightly nervous. He attempted to answer the CO's question. "I'd say you like a coherent team dynamic, officers with the ability to put the pieces of a puzzle together and work independently. Then again you look the kind of security officer who always accomplishes his goals, gets his man if you will. From what I've seen you've trained your division to be the best they can be…" Elliot trailed off as he watched Finn's expression. As First Sergeant Elliot had been responsible for Marines junior to him, responsible for their training and development. He could relate to this officer. However Elliot still couldn't read him, he may have given the wrong answer altogether…

"Okay, ya got me, I like sucking up," Finn stopped himself, "Sorry, but look, I've been in command of Hawking's Security for less than a week and the way things are progressing I'll be lucky if I make it to the seven-day mark," he shook that off, "No, what I like is delegating… particularly to the type who have a lot of initiative… and the ability to make the hard decisions." He didn't elaborate on that comment. He'd read Jenkins' file and knew how to read between the lines. "You're taking over as Gamma shift Watch Commander, which means squat all under the current conditions but it will give you the official responsibility to follow your gut. It also gives you a number of direct reports," he passed another PADD over to the former Marine, "and it allows me to give you more intelligence on the current situation, which you'll need to do the job."

"Understood sir." Elliot said, as he glanced down at the PADD. "It may seem out of place coming from a non-com, but command does get easier, I know this isn't the Corps and things are run a little differently, but I like the way operations are run here, you've done well." Elliot stopped himself going any further, as he constantly reminded himself he wasnt a Marine anymore and it was time to stop acting as if he were still in barracks, this was the Fleet, and he would have to get used to it. "Is there anything I should know about the Gamma shift sir?" Elliot concluded.

The former Lieutenant Commander winced inwardly at Jenkins' comment on command but chose only to address the question. "Gamma is never as quiet as it's supposed to be. Also, once this current crisis is dealt with, I'll continue to have personnel rotating shifts, so you'll have Gamma for three cycles, then move to Alpha for three and so on.

"But for now," Harry finally gave in and began to pace the room, "for now we have ourselves a ghost to find." He didn't stop moving as he asked, "Did word of the Anarasi Maru ever reach the Corps?"

Elliot nodded, a standard shift rotation sounded good, he looked forward to actually getting some free time for once. Old memories were stirred as the Chief of Security uttered the name Anarasi Maru. Elliot had only heard rumours, bits and pieces of information gathered from drunkards and the various scum he had encountered at many a bar in his time. "The name rings a bell, but other then that…I did know another Marine once who used to hoard all sort of information, the name was mentioned to him once, if memory serves he ended up leaving the room in a storm and no one ever saw him again…" A look of concern crept over Elliot stubbled face, something about this did not feel good…

Watching the other cosmic shoe drop… if not the knowledge at least the implications that the knowledge to follow was gonna suck, Harry nodded, "It had that effect on a lot of people. The thing is, what's happening here and now is a direct result of what happened there and then."

The Chief noticed a uncomfortable shift in Finn's posture and the concern in his voice was genuine. There was more to this then met the eye. "Then if what I have heard is true, we have a problem." Elliot's response was a tad understated, an officer was near death in the sickbay and the crew of the Hawking were about to be thrown in to a game of 'route out the sleeper.' This was all about tactics. How could the security team approach this case…There was only one person to ask. "Ok, what our next move sir?"

There was a lot to be said for officers who'd been on the line. "Next, you pretty much keep doing what you were doing," he pulled a sealed isolinear chip out of his pocket and handed it to Jenkins, "Read up on the history, so you'll know who we're dealing with." Read it because if I have to tell this f**ked up story one more time… "Should you or your team detect any anomalous behaviors in either the ship's systems or the crew, you report it to me, Lieutenant Torrik and Lieutenant Buzzkill… sorry… Tenanji."

The former Marine, stared at the chip as his CO rounded up the briefing. He would have Burgess and the rest of the nightshift back out on standard patrol, whilst he organised his new assignment in an attempt to get to the bottom of whatever this turned out to be. "Sounds like a plan sir, I'd like to have Gamma shift put on active duty as soon as possible, I'll have Burgess organise the appropriate officer rotation if thats ok with you. The sooner we get a lead the better." Elliot stated as he adjusted his uniform jacket.

Clearly the ex-Marine was having trouble adjusting to the black and greys of Starfleet. "I leave that to you but make sure you coordinate with Rodriguez and Ellison. We don't want to overlap and it's on you to make sure you don't work your team into the decking. We're still at least six days out of Jericho-Samaria… a lot of shit can go down in six days." He tugged at his own jacket, but this was only to double check the lay of his holdout Type I, "I'll be in sickbay for the next, probably hour or so, off the comms," damned if he wasn't going to get that scan run, today, "after that I'll be available 24/7."

"Understood, in that case I'll handle some of the admin crap before the next team comes on shift. I'll most likely be nearby if you need any assistance sir, and on an informal note, it was good to finally meet you." Elliot thought about extending a handshake, but a curt nod would do for now, best to keep things proffesional. "If thats all sir?" Elliot asked, eager to read up on the events of the situation so far.

"Nothing for now… dismissed, and, Jenkins," Harry waited until the NCO looked back, "be careful." A short nod and then Jenkins was gone, another soldier on the front line of Harry Finn's personal war.

JP by

The Grunt and the Bossman Jenks and Finn

Originally Posted By Elliot Jenkins 02-12-2008


Crew Mess :: Deck 2 :: 1830 Hrs

"…so then I cross-referenced the isometric histogram with the acoustic resonance profile, which demonstrated a point zero nine variance in the sensor return to the detection grid node at junction twenty-nine-alpha. I noted the discrepency for the science department and my aberration report, though the slip in efficiency is within Starfleet approved tolerances for the system," the young Borg finished, taking a short breath at the end of what had been a ten minute answer to the question of what he'd done today. Using one hand to rub at his organic eye, Three scooped up a piece of the chocolate cake in front of him with the other in what by all appearances was a sudden reprieve for the girl across from him.

Jenny blinked as she tried to process… well, anything that had been explained to her in the past few minutes. "Clearly I'm an underachiever," she said, admiring the smaller version of Nate's ability to demolish chocolate. She was pretty sure she admired his technical skills but first she'd have to go look up about a third of the words he'd been using. Leaning over, she pointed to a bit of frosting that had migrated to his jaw, "You missed a spot."

The child was utterly oblivious to the concept of smeared frosting on his face. Or perhaps inspired by it, as a dab of chocolate wound up on the tip of his nose as a second chunk was inhaled. It happened so fast one might have believed that the cake had been transported out. "What is the baseline for comparison you're using in that determination?" the boy asked, in an almost whimsical, off-handed fashion, before he plowed further ahead. "I find that by cataloging tasks with a N minus X of Y equation to account for some delay that I am able to achieve or complete all relevant assignments in an orderly fashion."

Fourteen hours on duty left Jen completely unable to respond. Had she asked a question? Had she slept through an introduction to cake-based physics? "So… how is it, living with your, umm, brother?" she asked, desperate to change the subject and not look like the total dweeb she knew herself to be.

"Benji is the most greatest… no, I mean… uh, most, like, awesome-ist in the Gamma Quadrant!" Three boasted with a sudden burst of new enthusiasm, beaming at being able to talk about the captain. After another small breath, he added in a more meeker tone, "But for our genetic similarities, we are not siblings. I'm his clone," the boy explained, ending on a light hearted note as though to suggest 'I'm a happy clone!'

"Did he pay you to say that?" the fourth-generation security officer tilted her head in suspicion. Well, the clone part was kind of obvious, but the whole-hearted sales pitch felt a bit… extreme.

"Why are you not at Baya's place?" the elder Benjamin spoke up from the doorway, having just stepped through. "You were supposed to… Oh.. Hi Jenny!" He beamed suddenly, switching gears in mid sentence. "I didn't see yo…."

"Benji!" Three declared, as a flying sack of potatoes of an eight year old came raining down on the teenager. It was captain hunting season apparently. Unfortunately, along with the flying tackle hug came a bit of the chocolate cake… to smear itself across the uniform.

Rising as the meteoric child flew past, Jenny felt that stupid blush starting up, again. Over Three's head she offered an apologetic smile, "It's not his fault, I was.. I had to stop by engineering and Three was there and he was hungry and I was off-duty so Mr. Obatu asked if I could, ah," the half-smile that had gotten her attention back on Megiddo station was making a reappearance. Unfortunately, it was also causing some interesting short-circuiting in Jen's language centers. Watching the young man watching her, his arms full of happy clone, she felt something odd happening in her middle, "and here we are?" she finished, lamely, trying to recall just what, precisely, she'd been explaining.

Nathan re-adjusted his new burden and smiled broadly. "Oh. Well… that's ok then." Nathan made the short walk back over to where Jenny had been sitting, and the rest of what had once been a chocolate cake. "So…it's movie night tonight… if you wanted to come over." He got out finally, shrugging. "You're off duty right?"

"I… yes," for only eight hours… you should sleep… "yes, I am and I'd love to come over." I can catch a couple hours later. "If it's okay with Three?" she smiled at the younger Benjamin, who after all, was part of the equation and if she'd learned anything during the eight-year old's lecture, it was to never leave out part of the equation.

The boy's mouth popped open as he started to say something, then seemed to pause for a moment as he scrutinized Benji for a moment. There was a kind of buzz that he could detect through the innate connection the pair shared - courtesy of their Borg transponder nodes. After assessing the potential cybernetic malfunction in the teen, Three arrived at what appeared to be a slightly confusing yet straight forward solution. "He likes you," he blurted out as he turned and looked over at Jenny.

As an awkward silence filled the room, broken by the sounds of a happily giggling and squirming tattletale, the deepest shade of crimson filled the teen's cheeks. "Well… " He began slowly, stumbling over the words awkwardawkwardawkard "Uhh.. Great well… You guys done here?"

"I'm so done you could stick a fork in me," Jen said, without thinking, then started to laugh because finally she'd met someone who could out-blush her, "It's okay, Three," she said, though her eyes were locked onto Nate's, "I like him, too."

Originally Posted By Nathan Benjamin 02-13-2008


.:: USS Hawking : Main Shuttlebay ::.

Scott gingerly walked into the bay and started towards the Wraith. He looked around thinking that he would find Vince there, but he saw nobody near the alien fighter. As he moved closer, he noticed the integrated computer was on, and it was analyzing the wraith's main drive assembly. He approached the screen, glancing at what the readout was saying, then out of the blue, he heard a loud clang, then watched a good sized object come flying out fron the top of the fighter…

" What the?!?" Scott jumped out of the way, watching the object nearly hit the computer. Then a voice came from above.

" Look out….!" The man climbed up, looking out, revealing himself to be Vince.

Scott looke up at Vince, a look of disbelief on his face," Now you say it, I almost got creamed by that thing."

" Oh, sorry man. I didn't know anyone was out here. I have some good news though." Vince jumped on the scaffolding, and started to climb down," I may have isolated the problem to the powerdrive, and this thing may be able to acthually fly around the ship."

" How?" Scott walked over to the computer where Vince was now standing.

" Well there was just some minor wiring problems. Once I got in and fixed them, it powered on, so I think it may fly." Vince tapped the screen to show Scott the problem.

Scott leaned up and looked at the Wraith," Everyday we get just a step closer. I hope we can get this thing going."

" Me too." Vince leaned on the computer.

Scott looked over to Vince, and noticed he was almost glowing," Why the hell are you in such a good mood all of a sudden."

" I'm getting this thing running, that's why." Vince tried to wipe the smirk from his face.

" No, that's not the fighter grin, you got somthing didn't you?" Scott moved back into Vince's line of view," Don't hold out on me asshole."

" Ok, I had a very , very good time with someone the other day, and for some reason it's carried over a couple of days." Vince started to climb back to the top of the Wraith.

" Oh this is priceless, who was it, and was it good?" Scott started to climb right after him.

Vince stood on the top of the Wraith, looking down at SCott," I am a gentleman, sir. I do not kiss and tell."

Scott gave him a whatever look.

" Ok, you grab those tools, and climb the rest of the way up and I'll tell you all about it…"

Originally Posted By Vince Stryfe 02-13-2008


People swirled around him, moving, talking to him, asking questions, someone touched his hand, gently pulling it from his left hand where he had cradled the injured limb. Javier could hear their words but didn't acknowledge them, lost in his thoughts, lost in the ultimate sadness that swallowed him completely. Lia..why did this happen? He could still feel her arms clasped around his neck when she had hugged him during the meeting with Q when he had been sent home. "She's gone..I never even got to see her again and now she's gone." His hand flinched as a shard of the monitor's shattered viewscreen was removed from it. He ignored the physical pain, it would go away eventually, but the internal agony was there to stay.

"Javier..one of your fingers is out of place," the doctor told him, "I'm going to have to push it back.." But the engineer was not in the room. He was light years away, on Earth in a room with a piano, at the piano sat a small child whose feet couldn't quite touch the floor of the conservatory's practice room. Lia was banging away on the keys, caught up in the moment and the thrill of making so much noise..

"Aaaah!" he exclaimed in pain as the bones were pushed into place. "Javier.." the person inquired but he was unresponsive, "Ensign Costala? What happened?"

"She's dead." He turned to the side to find T'Shaini near him. "Lia.."

Even from across the room T'Shaini could see that it was not the discomfort of physical injury that was enveloping Javier, moving quickly, she inserted herself among the bustle of activity surrounding the new arrival. The words he spoke though intensely unexpected, made all the pieces fall into place…the urgent message from home to the arrival in sickbay. She reached out and slid her hand over his shoulder. She stroked it gently knowing that it was not yet time for questions, he would tell her when he was ready, and in the telling hopefully release some of his grief.

Someone, a doctor he didn't know, was running a medical instrument over the lacerations in his hand, closing them while a nurse sponged away the blood. He leaned in against T'Shaini. "She was lost..and they found her clothes with blood on them..her's. I..She." He had no words to describe how terrible he felt so Javier closed up. He couldn't stop the tears though and silently wept as he sat on the biobed.

On his left, T'Shaini leaned in taking some of his physical weight, if not his emotional and ran her hand in circles soothingly across his back. Not that it was ever easy to lose someone in your life, but it was always so much worse when it was a parent losing a child, and for it to be a child with which contact had been limited made it doubly difficult with the added guilt of enforced separation involved. Tears, however painful, were an important part of the grieving process so she gently encouraged him, drawing his head to her shoulder as the nurse gathered the necessary supplies to bandage his hand.

"I want to go home..I want to go to my..Lia's funeral," Javier said suddenly, then with more resolve, "I want off of this ship." He sat straight and watched as a nurse bandaged his hand. There were splints on his first two fingers, holding them straight, the engineer watched the nurse wordlessly and when she was finished and walked away he turned back to T'Shaini. "I am going home."

"I am certain that as soon as we reach the Outpost we can arrange for transport. You are entitled to bereavement leave and it is important that you be with your family at this time." Keeping her arm around him, she waited until he stood and began to lead him back to their quarters.

Javier stopped and shrugged off T'Shaini's arm. "That's not soon enough. I need to leave now." He looked around the room then up at the ceiling and said, "Q, I need to go home. I need to go home now." He waited for a few moments. "I know you're watching this and laughing your ass off," Javier said aloud, "but I need to go home..back to where you sent me.." Nothing happened and the being known as Q did not appear. "Shit." Javier said under his breath.

T'Shaini stood and waited…what else could she do? When it became apparent that no assistance was to be had from that quarter she slipped her hand through his good one and held on tight. "I am so sorry…I realize how little those words mean to you at the moment, but I truly am." She pulled him gently towards her. "We can contact Captain Benjamin once we return to our quarters and make all the necessary arrangements."

"What's he going to do? More than likely tell me the same thing you did," Javier sighed and muttered something about 'Fleet protocol jibberish'. The engineer started to run his hand through his hair only to realize his hand was not going to be able to pull off that manuever for a while. Dropping his bandaged hand to his side, Javier unclasped his left hand from T'Shaini's and ran it through his hair as he pondered the problem. I need to get home but in order to do so the ship has to get to the Outpost quicker..It's almost like going backwards to go forwards.

"We have a new warpcore, let's see what she's capable of.." Javier reasoned aloud. There were dangers but they were minimal. He could always legitimize the speed increase by telling the bridge he was testing the new core.

T'Shaini opened her mouth, then closed it again. Shaking her head at the futility of the situation she reached out her hand once again. "Javier, she is gone…putting your career in jeopardy will not change that."

The sentence halted him and caused the thoughts to bleed away, making him recognize the futility of such a course of action. "I know she's gone," he replied, his voice quiet. T'Shaini was right, she was right in every way. Her answer was what he could have expected from a representative of Starfleet. "Is that all you have to say? My career..bereavement leave..necessary arrangements, you sound like..you sound like you did in Q's universe..calculating, cold, dead even."

"She was my daughter, don't you understand?" Javier asked in irritation as he pulled away from T'Shaini. His eyes searched her face but it was as emotionless as it had been since Halcyon. "You met her, you knew her and you're going to talk about career bullshit that doesn't matter..I know she's dead and I can't do anything about it..but I want to try and being at home is the closest I'm going to get to Lia now."

T'Shaini took a deep breath as the rage born from pain washed over her. "I cannot even pretend to understand what you are feeling at the moment, it would be demeaning of me to try." One foot began to step towards him, then she thought better of it and left him to himself. "I confess I am torn as to whether I should be functioning as ship's counselor or as someone to whom you have become the center of her life. I will aid you in any capacity that I have, I just do not wish you to make decisions that are solely based in your grief. I doubt very much that your parents would wish that, or even Lia would wish that."

The center of her life..what am I doing? Javier sighed, a long intense sound, his anger draining away. "You're right..I just want to do something and I can't..I can't do anything. I can't do anything here, I probably couldn't do anything at home either." He stepped forward and pulled T'Shaini into a close embrace. "You don't have to function as anyone, to me, you're are T'Shaini and that's the person I love." Javier rested his head on her shoulder. "I'm sorry."

First letting out a sigh at that indescribable click she felt as they fit together, then marveling at the rapid shifts that were so indicative of his personality, T'Shaini stroked his hair for a moment before pulling back and cupping his face in her hands. "There is no need to apologize, I only wish there were more I could do to relieve your sorrow." Brushing her thumbs over his tearstained cheeks she dropped a quick kiss on his forehead. "I suggest we return to your quarters and contact your parents, so that you may plan for the immediate future."

JP Javier and T'Shaini

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-13-2008


USS Hawking
Sickbay - Deck 5

Nodding to Darvin and Jameson, who now covered the doors, Finn walked into sickbay, fully intending to get his neural scan over with. He'd been delayed and sidetracked enough and it was time to resolve this issue 'cause, instincts or not, Harry knew he couldn't rest easy until he was sure that there weren't any… additions… floating around inside his skull.

Entering, he noticed that the medical facility was far less active than when he'd last been in the room; late shift, now and there was only a skeleton staff but he was pretty sure Slugger was expecting him. Scanning the area, it took a moment to realize that his objective was asleep… Sitting in a chair next to the semi-secluded biobed which Torrik occupied, he saw Jillian, head resting on the mattress, one arm draped protectively over her man's chest. He wondered if she were afraid his heart would cease to beat, if she weren't there to guard it. Hating himself, he strode quietly to where the couple rested and lay one hand gently on the doctor's shoulder, stepping quickly of range as she all but leapt from the chair.

"Sorry," his whisper sounded harsh in the stillness, "it's just… it's almost 0100."

"Right," Jillian blinked away the nightmare… nightmare, more like the yawning pit of emptiness that was the memory of those minutes when Nils had been gone… and her world gone with him. She realized her hand still rested on his chest, holding onto the rise and fall of his breathing like it was a lifeline, without which she'd have drowned in a sea of grief. "Don't worry, Harry," she conjured up something resembling her usual smile, "let's get this done and we can both rest for a while."

Leaning over Nils' still-unconscious form, she pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead, "I'll be back," she whispered, before turning away to lead the looming officer over to the bed Usha had been using to run the crew's encephelagraphic profiles. "Okay, just lay down and relax," she told him, knowing that, likely, nothing she could say would actually ease the tension which was rippling through the security officer. "I'll give you a fast-acting sedative and, by the time you wake up, we'll have the answer."

"Maybe we should get Jameson in here, just in case…"

"You'll be unconscious," she reassured the man, "dual personality doesn't mean immune to tranquilizers," Jillian held up the hypo and pushed Harry's shoulder until he finally lay flat on the bed, "I'll see you in about twenty minutes," she told him, applying the spray to his neck…

The ambizine took hold quickly and Harry only had time for a moment of panic before…

"I have tried that, I have tried everything and I am still getting nothing but gibberish…"

Harry frowned. The lights were on, but they didn't understand what they were hearing…

"Have T'Preen run through the system again… I have…

Something was definitely not right. Finn lifted his hand, rubbed at the sore spot behind his ear, "What's…" he swallowed, his mouth tasted like cotton, "what's happening?" He looked at his chrono and saw he'd been out for over an hour. "What..?"

"Sir," an overly cultured and predictably uptight voice, followed by the horrifyingly perfect posture of Lieutenant Tenanji, entered his world view. "There is a problem with your scan…"

"Not just your scan," Jillian shoved her way in, holding up the neurocortical monitor which she'd used on Harry, "Somehow, during your imaging a worm was introduced into the records… it ate your original profile in seconds and before we knew it, the little bugger got into the system and decimated all the crew's medical histories. We are flying blind, Harry… we have nothing left to compare…"

He was already sitting up and getting ready to move but a peremptory hand on his arm froze him. Harry continued to stand, preferring to face his officer while on his feet. "You have something to add, Lieutenant?"

Jillian, eyes wide, stepped back a pace, then she remembered who's sickbay this was and stepped forward, again.

"Ensign," Usher used his chief's lower rank intentionally, "It cannot be coincidence that, the two times you have entered sickbay to receive this scan, there has been an instance of sabotage on board the Hawking."

"No, it cannot," Harry echoed the younger man's inflection, though he remained very, very still, "though I suppose you'd then have to be suspicious of Torrik's choice of time to take a damned shower…"

"Nonetheless, you have requested that I follow this case independently and I am doing so. Given the circumstances, I believe it best if you surrender your sidearm," and he held out his hand, clearly expecting full and complete acquiescence.

"Now, wait a darn minute…" Jillian, surprising herself as much as anyone else, threw in with Harry. "The guy has been trying to get this scan for the better part of a day and… stuff just keeps happening to prevent it and…" she looked at Harry, who was looking down at her, "and I'm not helping your case much, am I?"

He actually managed a smile at that, "Not much, no." Looking back at Tenanji, the smile became a distant memory, "So you take my weapon and then what? Try and kick me off the case? Because that is not going to happen…"

"No, I would not expect you to give up the search," the Lieutenant had yet to remove the expectant hand, "but even you must admit, were our positions reversed, you would be making the same request of me."

And there you have it, Finn thought, Tenanji's payback. Harry and Seth had once placed young Usher under arrest, knowing that the kid was innocent, though unable to prove it. Now it was Harry Finn under the eye of the more mature and quietly satisfied Lieutenant Tenanji… who was right. If the situation were reversed, he'd be making the same demand. Wordlessly, he handed the phaser to the other officer before moving once again.

"Sir?"

Harry stopped, looked down - the hand was still out. Sighing, he drew the holdout from it's pocket in the back of his jacket, handed it over. "Are we done, now?"

"Of course." Usher pocketed the Type I and kept Harry's official phaser out, in a powered-down side seam carry. "How do you wish to proceed?" And suddenly he was all deference, handing the investigation back to his superior, who took it with about as much grace as one would expect.

"Now," Harry looked back to Slugger, "Now we start doing things the hard way… how many have been cleared?"

Closing her eyes, Jillian mentally collated the data she'd received from Usha Stryfe before the young doctor had gone off-shift, "I'd say, about a quarter of the original crew have come through, today," she said. Opening her eyes, she could see the question in Harry's face, "I'll get the list together, and forward it to you and command, ASAP." Unbidden, her gaze traveled to where Nils lay, still quiet… but still with her and that had to count for something.

"Thanks," Harry ducked his head at the inadequacy of the word. "Now, we," he turned to exit, walking and talking, "are going to start going through all the sensor logs. I want a team scouring the visuals beginning with today and working backwards…"

"What will we be looking for?"

"Mistakes," Harry was saying as they reached the doors. "You gotta figure, two personalities means twice the chance to screw up. I guarantee, we stare at the records hard enough, we'll see something… maybe not a big thing, but enough…"

Watching the security officers leave, Jillian bit her lip and shared a nervous glance with Bramley, who'd thankfully undergone his own scan the previous evening. "I'm going to get that list started," she said, heading to her office, "you keep nudging Ops. Maybe we can salvage something from the records…"

"On it," was the nurse's reply, his usual easygoing voice gone short with tension.

Sitting down to her terminal, Jillian could only pray that Harry and his team would find this guy before… before… she briefly rested her head in her hands, afraid to imagine what this creation of Acker's could come up with, next.

JP between Harry Finn, the Chi of Jillian Munro and NPC, Lieutenant Buzzkill (Tenanji, right, Tenanji… sounds totally different…)

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-13-2008


The Wasteland

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