Each In His Prison

A multivectored signal leapt from real space through a gateway into an alternate brane of reality traveling at incomprehensible speeds. Unbound by the conventional laws of physics, the rogue alien technology bounced in and out of linear time. Neither a wave nor a particle, it crossed boundaries where angels fear to tread. Slipping back into the here and now the speed of the signal dropped to the speed of light and found its mark.

The unsuspecting fail-safes designed by Starfleet engineers were no match for the signal and without any virtual struggle, commands issued from Operations that should never and would never have been given. All over the Intrepid class vessel every operational ASRV* initialized for launch. The fail-safes programmed to protect the integrity of atmosphere were overridden. Airlock was abandoned. The life pods sealed themselves, but not the ship and without fanfare or warning began springing away from Hawking.

Explosive decompression occurred. Precious atmosphere followed the life pods from their berths, draining the ship of life sustaining air and pressure. From the vantage point of space, the Hawking momentarily looked like a floatation device that had sprung hundreds of leaks all at once. Venting spouts of glittering air bled the life out of her and shot tens of meters into space. Geysers of oxygen burst from the ship and expanded out into darkness. The tiny escape pods drifted harmlessly into the void as if fleeing from the ghost ship Hawking was moments from becoming.

Mere seconds later a small bit of programming hidden in the depths of Starfleet back up protocols sprung into action and emergency bulkheads all over the ship slammed into place. Force fields erected at critical junctures halting the flow of atmosphere and holding it in place. Airtight seals immediately expanded in response to the impending vacuum and clung precariously to wild winds threatening to strip the life from the USS Hawking.

When equilibrium finally held a firm grip on both air and vacuum, only four point seven seconds had passed. However, those seconds had dramatically altered the nature of things aboard the wounded starship. Vast deserts of cold empty space stretched down long corriders within the Hawking. All crew quarters were effectively safe, however many were isolated and cut off by the vacuum just outside their sealed doors. In some areas there were oases of atmosphere. But they were islands of tranquility and warmth between oceans of cold nothing.

*autonomous survival and recovery vehicles or escape pods

Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 03-7-2008

USS Hawking
Between the essence and the descent…

::Just prior to the decompression::

"I set the Hawking's death in motion the moment that I realized you knew…"

T'Shaini's skin turned a darker shade of green as she felt the blood rush to her face, suddenly her entire being was subsumed with a sensation not unlike floodwaters rocketing through a canyon hurling debris from its path. Even her vision seemed to be tinged with green around the edges, somewhere a corner of her mind unaffected by the change thought to itself….ahh, this must be rage. Whatever barriers she had constructed to protect herself on Halcyon proved flimsy in the face of this tidal wave of emotion. Her body taut with fury, her voice, already raspy with abuse now unrecognizable, spat out. "At least you will die as well."

He didn't think anything could pull him out of the deep well of spite that Acker's creation had dumped him in but, just now, hearing that feral snarl from T'Shaini, Harry thought, maybe, he could see a light. If she could just harness that potential storm and wait for the perfect…

"Don't be stupid," Janus didn't even look at the practically frothing Vulcan, "The same shuttle I 'borrowed' to transport us to this hideaway is going to get me out," she stepped in close to Harry, so close they almost touched, "I was supposed to take you away, too… deliver you to Shaun but… Vanona felt that would be… anticlimactic." Her brown eyes burned in the stingy light, "And we've learned it's best to not get in Vanona's way when she wants something."

The anger in T'Shaini's voice covered slightly by an icy sarcasm her mouth was unaccustomed to emitting. "Oh and heaven forfend we get in her way, she may kill someone…oh, wait…"

In response Seth, who was apparently programmed to recognize naked hostility, lifted his prisoner's twisted arm higher, wrenching the shoulder until…

"Lay off!" Finn's own snarl was automatic, an instinctual response to the pain blossoming in Wendy's eyes. Wait for it…

And there you have it. Janus wondered if Finn knew how very, very transparent he was. "You always had a weakness for the women, Harry," but she nodded to Anderson's copy to ease off, nonetheless. "Part of the reason Vanona was chosen." At his deepening frown all the parts of her smiled, but one, "Shaun knew. He knew what it would do to you to know that someone, that a woman, had been… changed… to work his revenge. He knew it would eat at you that, after the cloning, while her neurons were still trying to get a grip, he took the time to really get to know her…" she stepped back as, against all reason, Finn tore himself briefly from his captors. Once Tim had re-secured him in a stranglehold she closed in, once more. "Think about it, Finn, there Shaun was, scarred, mutilated, monstrous, a pariah on every level… what woman would touch me? Unless I had the cash, or, as with Vanona, I could see the beauty of his mind…"

The words blew through him like sand, scouring away whatever was left that could have been human. The truth he'd known since hearing of the cloning device finally hit home. He'd never met the true Vanona Hawthorn: she'd been… compromised… before he'd even set foot on the Hawking. He'd never met the woman who had been raped, mind and body, by someone so far from the realms of reason that even Harry, who had spent the better part of eleven years delving into the darkest souls the Federation had to offer, couldn't traverse the distance.

And now, here, having come so far but nowhere near far enough, he had to face what had been done to Vanona Hawthorn in his, Harry Finn's, name and try to make it stop or so many more would die. He looked at Wendy, who was looking at him. Probably, neither one of them would get out of this alive but there was a bigger issue.

"How?" he asked, dragging his eyes back to Hawthorn's remains, his voice rough as sandpaper against the pressure of Willet's arm, "How do you expect to take down an entire starship, all by your lonesomes?"

Wendy, Janus and Harry

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-7-2008

"How do you expect to take down an entire starship, all by your lonesomes?"

The device on Hawthorn's arm…Harry, look at the device on Hawthorne's arm. Impossible to say anything without making certain they would not be allowed to do anything about it, so she just looked at Harry and hoped he would somehow read her thoughts.

"Let's just say that Section 31 has some really cool toys, and leave it at that," Janus smiled at his barely concealed disappointment, "What, did you think I was going to give you chapter and verse?" She closed in once more, enjoying the way Finn attempted to pull away, though there was nowhere to go, enjoyed it so much that the blended personalities couldn't resist running their hand through his hair, watching him shrink from the touch… though of course, the phaser in their left hand remained carefully trained on the man.

He had to look away from the leering echoes of Shaun Acker that rippled across Hawthorn's features and, doing so, Harry realized that T'Shaini was staring at him… once she caught his eye she threw her own gaze over and down at Janus… at Janus'… what… torso… waist… arm, he glanced back as the hand that had been sliding through his hair traced downwards, towards his jaw and noted a slight, very slight ripple beneath the uniform's sleeve. Riiiight.

Observing the glint of recognition as Harry's gaze passed over the edge of sleeve hiding the device, T'Shaini readied herself for whatever he chose to do next. Rage curled in on itself, like a coiled spring waiting to be sprung.

Pressing his face briefly into the strange caress, Harry looked into Janus' eyes and, in as gentle a voice as he could manage with someone's forearm pressed against his windpipe asked, "How's the burn?"

Janus blinked, left arm twitching, briefly, "I… it's…"

Which was as far as she got before Harry's foot impacted her full-force, square in the gut. As the woman fell away, gasping, he dropped the same foot crushingly down on Willet's own left boot and, hologram or not he was fully programmed and he responded to the pain. As the arm around his neck loosened, Finn swung his head left and back, accepting the explosion of pain as his own skull slammed into the holographic forehead. The turn brought him to face Sara but he was already swinging out a roundhouse kick to knock her phaser away. Drawing the leg back he administered a solid side-thrust to her sternum, which left another one sucking at air. There was action at his six, he could hear the muffled sounds of violent combat but he had his own worries. Willet was back and Harry, hands cuffed behind him, had few options. As the rangy representation closed in, Harry dropped to the floor, throwing out a scissor kick which pulled the legs out from under his opponent. Before Willet, flat out on the floor, could move, Harry, still prone, dropped one foot on the other man's chest, damaging ribs and holding him down while his right foot pressed against Tim's face in a vicious shove which ended only when he heard the grisly crack of a broken neck. Now just stay broken. He rolled to his feet, looking for Janus…

Even knowing it was coming, T'Shaini was unprepared for the explosive attack from Harry, for a split second she watched in awe, then as Anderson's phaser rose to point toward Harry she slammed her right elbow just below his sternum and grabbed for the phaser. Knocking it from his hand, out of the corner of her eye she saw it skittering across the floor as she tore from his grip, hearing a sickening pop from her shoulder. Using her momentum she spun the now useless arm until she heard the crack of the back of her hand against Carson's cheek who had been coming up on her left. Stumbling forward she threw herself to the floor, sliding until her good hand connected with the phaser and rolling off to her left, swallowing hard against the blinding flash of pain she brought the phaser up and fired…and watch Carson drop like a stone.

"Niiiice try," the scathing voice of Janus cut through the charged atmosphere, "all in all, I'd have to give the Deck 14 Irregulars at least a 7.2 for style. Too bad you didn't make it to the finish line."

Head snapping around toward the voice, the scene T'Shaini took in was less than encouraging. Anderson holding onto a stunned looking Harry as Janus held a knife at his throat. Sara, where is Sara…. A quick glance over her shoulder into the business end of a phaser answered that question quickly enough. Vibrating with frustration and suppressed rage, the Vulcan rose to her feet, phaser in hand. Rising, she calculated her odds…she had a shot, but in all likelihood it would mean that Harry would die. The needs of the many…

Do it… Harry, coming back from the blankness which followed rising straight into the path of Janus's wrath, the cold edge of a familiar blade at this throat, felt the waves of violence T'Shaini was emitting. Do it, now…

"Where there is life, there is hope," Janus said softly, in a voice so like who he'd thought Vanona was it hurt to hear.

"Wrong argument." T'Shaini snapped up the weapon marveling at the gall of the creature who sought to eradicate the Hawking.

But Janus had already changed the pieces on the board. Harry had been correct: Dana's killer was fast… training and ruthlessness combined had the Klingon hybrid yanking the still-dazed Finn in front of her, the move was quick enough that the keen blade slid across his throat and a thin red line marked its passing. With no clear target, no way to achieve the objective before she, herself was killed, T'Shaini lowered her own weapon, hissing as the ghost of Sara ripped it from her hand to be tossed uselessly into the open shuttle behind.

Sara shoved Wendy towards where they stood and Harry noted the painfully unnatural drape of her left arm. And it was for nothing. They'd only eliminated two holographs and now the real deal was gonna be twice as wary… he watched as Janus slid once more to stand in front of him… looked into her eyes as she pulled the blade away from his neck, considering… gasped at the sudden cracking agony as her boot smashed his left kneecap…

Cursing herself for not shooting when she might have had the chance T'Shaini glared at Janus. "Fine, you have won…can we not move on to your plan for utter destruction? Or do you require some more pointless posturing?"

"Nothing I do is pointless," Janus replied, almost absently, as she watched Harry struggling to remain upright, unwilling to depend on Seth's grip to keep him from planting his face in the deck. "Nothing," the oddly blank eyes turned to T'Shaini, who was now standing quite close, held by Sara so that she was perpendicular to the wounded man. "I don't have time for anymore little rebellions, you see, and I rather expect that Harry might take issue with this…" and so saying plunged the dagger deep into T'Shaini's right side, holding the Vulcan woman's gaze as the slim blade slid in and up, as it tore through skin and muscle to penetrate the laboring lung and then, with almost more force, dragged the killing alloy out, once more.


Originally Posted By T'Shaini 03-7-2008

::Boyce's Quarters::
::USS Hawking::

The engineer sat with his back to the wall, reclining against the bulkhead, his face concealed by the shadows that played about the room. The brilliant white overheads had been replaced by the dull flashing strobes of emergency lights. The flashes illuminated the state of Boyce's quarters and gave testimony to the brawl that had consumed the two men. Javier was motionless except for his eyes which searched out the darker pattern of red on his knuckles and fingers. The memory of what had transpired in the room played over and over in his mind as he stared at the blood. Across the room, slumped over on the floor was Boyce. He had put up a fierce fight but did not fight with the utter abandon that had taken hold of Costala. Fueled by rage, despair, frustration, heartache, sadness and the idea that Boyce was Acker, Javier had fought Killian in a near cathartic release of emotions; emotions that had been bottled up inside of the Chief Engineer for far too long. The fight had turned particularly vicious when Boyce had resorted to old street fighting techniques he had learned on his homeworld, Turkana IV, and Costala fell back on the training he remembered from his stint in the Qniverse. The fight had ended when Javier had choked Boyce out, using a submission hold on the rebellious crewman until Boyce lost consciousness.

Boyce stirred and groaned as pain shot through his side. He opened his eyes and for a moment was confused by the red lighting. "Wha..what happened?"

"You tell me," Javier said coldly, breaking his silence, "the doors are sealed and won't open. I felt the shudder run through the ship and heard the air sucked out of the corridor. What did you do? Decompress the environment?"

"I didn't do anything.."

"Boyce, do you remember what happened when Q pulled us into the alternate universe?" Costala asked as he rubbed at the blood that had dried around his fingernails.

"What does that have to do with me?" Killian pulled himself up into a sitting position. He felt pain, internal pain, when he took a breath.

"My occupation in that place was different. I was an agent. My specialty was assassinations..and making them look like accidents." The strobing red lights illuminated Javier's face giving it an eeiry appearance. Everyone he loved or cared for was on the other side of the door and Javier had a feeling they were in need of his help. He wasn't going to let them die like he had let Ajani. "Tell me what you did or they'll never find your remains Killian." Even as he spoke the engineer was filled with doubt about Boyce's involvement in the sabotage and death that had taken place on the Hawking. He just doesn't seem intelligent enough.

"I didn't do anything," Boyce repeated, searching for the answer that Costala wanted to hear. "I did treat her badly but I didn't mean to..she talked too much and..ah hell she was only good at one thing."

"Dana? You murdered her because she talked too much?" Javier accused.

"Murdered? No. I had nothing to do with that." Killian looked up at Costala. "I meant Selena, the hair-dresser, she was good in between the sheets but always talking. Blah blah blah and I think so and so ought to blah blah blah. I threw her out because I wanted her around but not as a conversation partner…I just wanted a piece of.."

"Shut-up Boyce!" Javier's words cracked out and struck Boyce with their contempt. He's a despicable worm but he's not Acker. Christ, I should have gone to Engineering. That's where the real trouble is. The engineer got up and paced the small room. "We have to get out of here..there's trouble in Engineering…"

"You can go," Boyce replied as he relaxed against the wall. "I've been relieved of duty and in two days I'll be sipping Romulan Ale on the Outpost and squeezing some bargirl's.."

"You ****ing moron! Don't you realize that we'll all be dead if the saboteur succeeds?" Javier's anger had not yet cooled and he took it out on Killian only this time he used a verbal attack. "He's not going to just kill Harry Finn and leave us all alive..and no one is going to kill Finn, not before I punch his lights out!!"

"Oh." The disgruntled engineer had a revelation. Killian put all the pieces together and decided that he wanted to live longer so he could follow his favorite past-times of fighting, drinking and screwing. "So we're locked in here?" Costala nodded. "Loss of environmental atmosphere." Another nod. Boyce smiled and crawled over to a large trunk that took up most of the wall space in the small room. He worked the lock on the trunk then lifted the lid. "I was going to get even with you by selling these on the black market..figured they would keep me in booze and Orion slave girls long enough." Inside the trunk were three EV suits replete with their helmets.

"Where did you get these?" Javier asked tersely.

"Main Engineering..I didn't think.."

"If they need these and someone dies because of your theft…"

"Never find my remains, got it Sir." Boyce began pulling the suits out of the trunk. "It was sort of fortuitous that I stole them though."

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-7-2008

USS Hawking
Counselor T’Shaini’s Office - Deck 5

As ministering angels went, Usher was sure this was the crankiest ever dispatched. From the moment she’d entered, trailing the breathless Ensign Fisher, he had been privy to an under-the-breath diatribe regarding the general inability of the sickbay to function normally for two lousy hours without the CMO. "Losing sedated patients…"

“Hawthorn took him…” Usher began but was parenthetically shushed, surprisingly gently, before the rant continued over the "… premature release of a poisoning victim and who had thought it a good idea to tranquilize Finn in the first place and… Nordin, another unit…”

He sighed out in relief as the disturbingly wet sensation of having a hole in one’s back was slowly eased by whatever clever ministrations Dr. Munro was performing. He wondered at the lack of pain, having already forgotten the hypo the good doctor had administered before probing the wound…

“Hawthorn…” he said again… though it came out more of a cough.

“We know,” T’Landra, hands coated with his blood assured, “we know, only…”

I never should have allowed her behind me. But he had, and now, “Counselor T’Shaini, and Finn…”

“We’re trying to locate them…” Fisher offered ignoring Nordin’s hiss at hearing the Chief of Security’s name. “But…”

“What?” No longer bleeding out, Usher tried to roll over, to sit up but strong hands eased him down, “What is happening?”

“Computer, locate Lieutenant T’Shaini and Ensign Finn,” Munro requested, apparently feeling that a demonstration was easier than explaining.

“Lieutenant T’Shaini and Ensign Finn are each in his prison/Thinking of the key.”

“Ahh,” no further explanation required, he’d begun to tap his combadge but three identically arched brows indicated the futility of that as well.

And then the doors had closed… and the alarms sounded… and they all felt the angry throes of the Hawking as her atmosphere was stolen.

Usher, riding a wave of painkillers, knew this was serious, that the vessel was gravely wounded but, despite that he found himself interestingly distracted by the quartet of beauty in which he found himself surrounded. The angel in particular… “You are quite beautiful,” he heard himself saying, while the back of his brain was running through disaster drills and tactical protocols.

“That’s just the painkillers talking,” Jillian said, smiling briefly in spite of the bone-chilling fear that this might be the end of the Hawking, and all her crew.

Dedicated to the Ministering Angel Jillian Munro and featuring NPC's Usher Tenanji, Brittney Fisher, T'Landra and Stephanie Nordin

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-7-2008

::Katie's Classroom::

He carefully placed the block on top of the others. There were five now and this would make the sixth. Eli chuckled to himself gleefully. The blocks were taller than he was and the small boy had to lean forward on his knees to place the block on the stack. As he pulled his hands away and gazed at the block chimney proudly the floor beneath him vibrated slightly. A look of surprise came over his cherubic features. If they get knocked down..no one will see them! Eli looked around the classroom for his mother who was also his teacher.

Scotty, Mister Javier's dog, whined then stood to his feet and sniffed at the blocks. "No Snotty, I get mom to see first," Eli stated resolutely as he pushed the dog away. Scotty barked once then whined again.


The floor started to shake more violently and the blocks fell to the deck. Scotty started to bark and the other kids cried and shouted in alarm as the ship shuddered violently. Eli's attention was drawn to a bright flash outside the window. He scooted over to the viewport and watched as tiny ships came out the sides of the ship and hurtled past the window. With his mouth open in surprise, Eli turned to look for Katie. The door of the classroom suddenly opened. Curious as to why this new event had happened, Eli moved towards the doorway. He stopped just inside the door and stared out at the empty corridor.

Blue walls suddenly sprang up in the hallway. They crashed towards the three year old and he could only watch in wonder at the beautiful sight, unaware of the danger he was in. Something grasped the back of his britches and pulled Eli backward quickly as a forcefield crashed down. Scotty had a firm grip on Eli's pants with his teeth and he drew the boy back into the room. Back to safety.

Featuring: Eli Ibrahim & a dog named Scotty

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-7-2008

Meanwhile in sick bay

Dr. L’mek who finally came to terms with his patient sitting up so shortly after being on an intense detox regimen decided to treat an engineer who was caught in the blast earlier and was now sitting on a bio bed in critical condition. As he treated the patient the captain said something to him but with his Romulan hearing everything was so chaotic he was having a hard time listening to one person at a time. Especially if they where behind his back. L’mek asked if the young Capitan could speak up but as he turned he saw the fleeting glimpse of the captain dragging his patient out of sickbay with a Ferengi following close behind.

All he could do was sigh and start treating his patient that stayed put. “ Hey I asked for a dermal regenerator two minuets ago. Could someone help me? These burns and broken bones aren’t going to heal themselves.”

As that was spoken Dr Glorm joined in helping him. As the Ferengi held the dermal regenerator and started treating the patient he spoke to L’mek. “ So I see your having as much trouble holding patients as I am. Even I can’t bargain with the crew in this condition. Everyone wants to help, but in doing so they hurt themselves more and end up here again.”

L’mek held a hypospray to the patients neck and released it after the hiss made its usual confirming sound. “Well if it isn’t that its poisoning or fighting related. And to top it off it is an unusual poison.” The Ferengi looked up. “ Oh. How so?” L’mek now holding a tricorder in one hand and another dermal regenerator in the other answered. “ Whoever it was used Digitalis. Its hard to trace and even harder to come by. Even for a person such as yourself. But that’s not the reason I think it was the toxin selected for the job. There are hundreds of better choices out there. And if you know your target you can get more specific and more hidden results. No I think whomever did this was trying to send a message to a entirely different target. Almost like a killers equivalent to a calling card.”

The Ferengi doctor looked up in amassment. “Well you my friend have to much knowledge on poison and killing techniques for my taste. Are you sure your not part of the Tal Shiar.”

At hearing this L’mek almost dropped his equipment. “I’m quite certain that I am not part of the organization that tried to kill me. But that was a very nice attempt to gain information from me on my background.”

The two of them continued treating the patients in sickbay hoping an end to the madness would come soon.

Originally Posted By L'mek 03-7-2008

~Moments Before Decompression~

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Deck 8 ::

Following the two avid scientists through the quiet of deck eight, Joseph reflected that it was probably a good thing General Quarters had been sounded. Aside from preventing unnecessary loitering or more brawl-inducing gatherings in the bar, it meant they wouldn't have to wait long for the turbolift.

"So where are we going, again?" the nurse asked, wondering if, maybe, he should let the two continue without him but then, glancing at Gorsky, having a purpose was good but what happened when the action stopped and he still knew that Dana Grissom was dead… no… he was charged with the genius' safety so, keep him safe Joe would.

"Holodeck two," answered Nils in a rush. Brushing the side of the phaser holstered at his hip for the fourth time since they left the lab, he lead the group around a bend in the last leg of the journey to a lift. Just before stepping in, he tried his combadge once more for good measure. A security detail would have been nice to have around considering his own reputation with a weapon of any kind. But still the communication system brought back nothing. "We'll need to be careful," he added as he spun into the lift. "The saboteur won't know we're coming, but judging from past experiences he'll be well equipped to deal with us." The Bajoran silently prayed for the Prophet's protection on the ragtag rescue team.

Keeping up with the taller lieutenant, Alex barely registered the caution. All he heard was 'holodeck' and 'saboteur'. Right, saboteur… more like gutless murderer and now, his own hand reached for one of the lab's cache of phasers, now he had the means to at least stop the killer. He'd been practicing, since Finn had started rooming with him… he'd never once taken out a living being but, just at this moment, he felt more than motivated to change that. He glanced down, carefully checking that, yes, the weapon was set to maximum. "Three to one is good odds," he said, aloud, because he supposed Torrik expected some kind of answer.

"I've never been much of a gambler," Nils said seriously. "I much prefer to facts to stats… Deck five." The lift began moving and a sour knot clenched in the Bajorans stomach. Preparing for battle of any kind and on any scale departed measurably from his comfort zone. "I think we should…" A sudden jolt knocked the party into the wall. There was a brief moment when only the sound of a distant and mighty wind hissed outside the lift. Then there was silence. Abruptly red alert klaxons blared to life, and wide eyed the Chief of Science glanced back and forth between his two companions.

Joe had caught himself just before his nose made close acquaintance with the wall but then someone, probably Gorsky, had slammed into his back which left him seeing red… no, wait… "Shit."

"Yeah," Alex dug out a non-rigged tricorder but what he could possibly discover from here… "shit," he echoed the medic before looking up at the silent CSO, "We're venting…"

Nils' eyes squinted in concentration. "We're venting," he echoed unbelieving. "What do you mean? The whole ship?" His voice was incredulous. Moving to a vantage that would give him full view of the tricorder Gorsky had flipped open. Indeed the young man's assessment was full on correct and more dire than he could have imagined. The Bajoran had nothing to say. His mouth hung agape as he surveyed the data before him over and over.

The move was both chilling and genius. Their resident bad-guy had effectively isolated the crew into pockets of individuals. The strength of a starship's crew always resided in the unity of purpose their combined intellects could wield. Isolated, the saboteur had effectively neutralized their greatest strength. "We're trapped…" Nils tone was final. But his mind still spun looking for a loophole.

"Trapped," Gorsky started pacing the ridiculously small space, "Like, how trapped… I mean, nowhere to go trapped because, you know, I'm not habitually good in small spaces…"

"Gorsky," Joe began.

"I know, people think, ooo, live in a space ship, that's a small space but that doesn't… that's not a problem but… extended periods in a really small…"


"… space is… like… that's really hard for…"

"Alex!" Bramley waited until he was sure he had the kid's attention, then he looked from one scientist to the other, then he looked up. He looked back at the two men, "Okay, I know I'm just the ignorant nurse but… stay with me, here… can the tricorder tell us… I mean… if there's viable atmosphere beyond this car, can it find it? If it can, maybe," he pointed upwards, to the trap at the top of the 'lift, "maybe there's a path we can use to get someplace…"

"To someplace less cramped?"

"I was going to say more useful," Joe shook his head over the random phobias of geniuses.

"It can…" Nils delicately plucked the tricorder from Alex' hand. "…and it has…" He waited a few moments allowing any and all possible solutions to present themselves. "The shaft is breathable both above and below. But every connecting corridor is worthless. There are… three jeffries tubes connected to this lift that have maintained a pressure seal, and they all lead nowhere useful. The mess hall, deck seven storage, and an area of deck four that might be our best shot. Unfortunately, the emergency bulkheads and forcefields have diced up the interior of the ship rather effectively." Nils shook his head and handed the tricorder back to Gorsky. "I say we aim for deck four and then try to find a way to the bridge. We'll be able to affect the most change from there."

Alex, willing to do anything that got him out of the confines of the frozen lift, looked at Bramley, who shrugged, clearly of the mind that any action was better than none, then back at his CO, then up at the trap, "So," he said, "who goes first?" The two taller men just gave him a look. "Right," he sighed, looking up again, "I'm gonna need a boost."


Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 03-8-2008

USS Hawking
Aft Lounge - Deck 11

Despite the Chief’s orders, Jereen had felt it the height of idiocy to take a sobbing, heartbroken child back to a room filled with her peers. Not yet a parent, herself, she still had vast experience with the behaviors of the young, thanks to dozens of siblings and their offspring.

She chose, instead, to bring young Autumn Quincy to the deserted lounge, after sending a com to Ms. Ibrahim to explain the detour. Here, the child could cry out her pain and, perhaps, find some access to her native joy before she was required to face the judgment of her schoolmates.

“You know,” she confided in the small, weeping girl, “Ensign Finn has not been at all sociable for several days… he has not even slept…”

“I don’t care,” Scout wrapped her arms around her knees and rested her chin on those knobby precipices, “He lied… I wasn’t ever part of his team… I’m just a kid and he never really cared…” her small voice broke on that last.

It was just too much for a sensible Denobulan female to take. If Finn wanted to ream her for it, later, she’d take it and gladly, but she’d not watch this little girl suffer needlessly. Falling back on the intel of replicator gossip, she placed a gentle arm about the child as the two sat, staring out at the slow drift of stars. (And why had they dropped out of warp? Not that it could be anything serious, there had been no alerts…) “You have to understand the minds of adults… human adults,” she amended quickly. “For Ensign Finn, right now, the only important thing is to protect those for whom he cares… well,” she gave a slight shrug, “to protect everyone on the Hawking but there are a few… a very special few, that he would rather die than see come to harm.” Taking the risk, she glanced down.

Autumn’s tears were slowing, and the girl looked thoughtful, but didn’t say anything.

Jereen continued, “And for those few, if he felt that, in any way, they were putting themselves in the path of danger, well,” she exhaled a long breath to ease the residual discomfort at Finn’s dismissal of the girl, “he might take very drastic steps to remove them from that path.” She waited. Perhaps she was being too circumspect?

“It was a rotten way to do it,” less tearful but now angry, Scout sniffed her opinion. “He could have just said that he wanted me to stay in school…”

“Did I mention we were talking about a male human adult?” Jereen noted.

Scout began to smile but then, as the two watched, there was a sudden eruption of activity outside the ship… all across the wide windows they saw ASRV’s floating free of the Hawking, and behind them, the telltale vapor of oxygen, fleeing the vessel.

“Bad,” Jereen uttered before taking Autumn into her arms and racing towards an alcove at the rear of the lounge… if the failsafes didn’t enact… the lounge door was closed but…

A sudden change in pressure had Autumn covering her ears and then the breathy hiss of escaping atmosphere ruffled their hair and clothing to tell them that time was running out but then came the reassuring hum or the internal shields activating and the remaining air in the lounge quieted and the two looked at one another.

Scout, seeing the distress in Jereen’s eyes, patted her shoulder, “It’s okay, Jereen,” she smiled for the first time since running from school, where her friends had been condemning Chief Finn, “Harry will fix it. Even if he doesn’t have me watching his back.”

Jereen smiled back, unwilling to mention that, if ‘Harry’ were going to fix anything, he’d have to do it, fast. They’d probably lost over half the usable air in the lounge and, she glanced at the silent vents, there wasn’t any more coming in.

“Harry will fix it,” Scout insisted.

Post featuring NPC's Cadet Jereen and Autumn 'Scout' Quincy

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-8-2008

Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer's Quarters

"Just stand right there…no, don't move." Good lord, all she needed to do was come back and change her clothes, approximately thirty seconds into the visit and he had knocked a picture off the wall. Who does that? Checking back to see that he hadn't moved yet she made her way toward the bedroom.

A low growl emitted from Jameson's… the sound would have been more at home in a bear's cave… for that matter, Jameson would have more at home in a bear's cave. He kicked the offending rug, over which he'd tripped before knocking that damned picture (and what was it a picture of, anyway? A bunch of splashes of lumpy-ass paint that the three-year old in the school could have done) off the wall.

As the squint went off to change her clothes (cause, gods forbid any woman spend more than a few hours in one outfit!) he eased off the growl and tried to make sense of his surroundings.

Wondering if she could sneak in a shower before going back to the lab she froze mid reach into her closet at the sound of breaking glass. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"



She ran back out to see…carnage. Her Andorian cloissanne high backed stool lay in pieces under the giant butt of Jameson. Scrubbing her face with her hands as if it would erase the last half an hour Kerrin muttered. "What was wrong with sitting on the couch?" Which at least had a snowballs chance in hell supporting his bulk.

Hauling himself out of the humiliating wreckage Jameson muttered a sentence that may have included the words 'soft', 'poncy', 'no room between the," something foul enough to scorch the air and finally, "and if I hadn't been ordered to guard you like you were the Tear of the Prophets, I swear I'd….." and then he realized that this was his outside voice and Schaeffer was not only listening to every word, her eyes were going damn wide… "anyway… so I sat on the damn stool… thing… whatever."

So who guards me from the guard… Kerrin, who had backed up several steps waved her hands ineffectually in front of her. "Hey, I put things back together all the time, I am sure I can fix that…can I just get you to sit…somewhere…" That you won't crush like Godzilla going through Tokyo. "on the couch?" Scooting over, she tossed aside her pillows to make room for him.

"I don't need to sit… I just need to…" he was interrupted by the sudden sounding of the red alert klaxons, "Stay here!" William ran to the door, tapping his combadge, "Jameson to Tactical, requesting sitrep," but there was no response and, reaching the door to the doctor's quarters he found no joy there, either. "Computer, release Dr. Schaeffer's door."

"In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo…" the warm voice of the Hawking's main computer told him.

"SHIT." Not that she could identify Eliot, but she certainly knew if the ships computer was spouting poetry it meant bad news for all. "We can't get out?"

"Doc, I don't even know if we should try," he glanced back, furious at the situation in general and their saboteur in particular. His specialty was demolitions, one look at Schaeffer's room could tell anyone that, and here he was, stuck in an overdressed suite with no access to any useful intel. "Computer," he figured it was worth another try, "explain purpose of the lockdown."

"Do I dare/Disturb the universe?"

"That was completely…"

"Programed by Harry's mole." Kerrin's knees felt weak. "God…is there anything we can do?"

"No… I mean… no," frustrated he looked back at Schaeffer, who was kinda pale. "It'll be all right," he said, awkwardly, clearing his throat, "Gran and Ellison are out there… and the Chief and…" and I should be too, "It's a good crew. Hawking will be okay." Seeing as how she didn't look much less pale, he offered her a companionable pat on the back, "OH, shit… sorry!"

Struggling to right herself after his little 'love tap' almost sent her into the wall Kerrin's sense of the ridiculous took over. A laugh that she tried to control finally bubbled up and spilled over into the room. "So we are stuck…here…together."

Eying the overly delicate space and the woman who belonged to it, William cast one last, desperate glance at the door before admitting defeat. "Got any cards?" he asked, in a voice that held little hope.

Squinting up at her oversized watchdog Kerrin crossed her arms in front of her body. "Depends, you play Texas Hold Em, Omaha or 7 Card Stud?"

JP NPCs Kerrin Schaeffer and William Jameson aka Godzilla

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 03-8-2008

USS Hawking
Main Security Office - Deck 14

“So we’re stuck in here?” McMennan wanted to kick something but there wasn’t anything sufficiently breakable and, besides, there was a civilian in their midst…

“Better than being stuck up there,” Dalluk, the civilian in question, pointed to the ceiling where, they were pretty sure, deck thirteen was suffering from serious decompression.

“Suck,” was Darby Saunder’s commentary.

Dalluk managed a smile, “Vacuums usually do.”

Bending over the desk terminal once more, Aengus tried to access any kind of useful information but, since the sensors had crashed, only minutes before the lockdown, they were flying blind. No useful coms, no sensors, no mobility, no…

“Whoa… whoawhoawhoa!” The three beings in the main office dove for the arched entrance to Auxiliary Tactical, where Zane Peress was manning the console.

“What?” Saunders, looking way less flouncy than Aengus had ever seen her, joined him at the station.

“I was trying to run a diagnostic, find the source of the disruptions, or maybe get sensors back online, and look at what I got…”

’What is that noise?’
The wind under the door.
‘What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?’
Nothing again nothing.
‘You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember

“That is, like, totally fu…”

“Let me see,” Dalluk stepped up between the two officers with such comfortable authority that they stood aside without comment. Once he'd read the strange script, the older man cocked his head, “Computer, identify the verse onscreen.”

The three officers stared at the bartender, wondering what he could possibly hope to achieve… “The computer hasn’t been…”

“The verse is from ‘The Waste Land’ written by Terran poet T.S. Eliot, born 1888, died ’What shall I do now? What shall I do?’

At the name of the poet, Peress exchanged a look with McMennan and Saunders… they’d been briefed and, though it was always likely Finn’s ghost was responsible for their current woes, the poetry was pretty much the killer's signature on the masterpiece of the Hawking’s destruction.

Dalluk almost smiled, “You shall display a list all verse written by T.S. Eliot,” he told the lyrical computer, “then split screen and display the works, beginning with ‘The Waste Land’.”

“What possible good can that do?” Zane was still trying to find any useful intel on the Hawking’s current status… getting into a poetry reading was the last…

“The computer tried to answer, every question you’ve asked it’s tried to answer,” Dalluk was reading, very quickly, through no few lines of verse, “but it’s like it has a sort of literary aphasia, it can only respond in text from this poet… so we need to learn its new language…”

“And hope the computer will accept commands in it?” Zane’s tone indicated his doubts. "That's quite a stretch."

“Worth a try,” Dalluk didn’t even take his eyes off the words before him, “Unless you have any better ideas?”

“Right,” Peress, jerked his chin at Saunders, “You two, go to the office terminal and start reading…”

“Take ‘Gerontian’ and ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’,” Dalluk suggested, “I’ve got 'The Waste Land'…”

“And I’m on… ‘Four Quartets’,” Zane picked one from the list. “Start looking for anything that might translate to ‘communications,’ or ‘sensors’.”

“On it,” Aengus and Darby raced back to the office, each taking half a screen and both wishing fervently that they’d paid more attention to their Ancient Earth Lit class, back at the Academy.

“So,” Zane said to Dalluk as he entered the lines, ‘Words, after speech, reach into the silence’ to see if they’d get a response but, no go, “what did you do before you were a bartender?”

“I was a barber.”


Post featuring NPC's Cadet Aengus McMennan, Ensign Darby Saunders, Ensign Zane Peress and Dalluk (Jack of All Trades)

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-9-2008

::Boyce's Quarters::
::USS Hawking::

Javier rummaged through the trunk of stolen equipment. It was filled with all sorts of tools, most from engineering, but others from Operations or the shuttle-bay. One piece of technology was more interesting than the others and he removed the grappler hand-held system, studied the functionality of it, then set it aside. He lifted an engineer's toolkit out of the trunk, placed it next to the grappler then stared at the next item in the trunk. He knew what it was but Javier still couldn't believe what he was seeing. He looked at Boyce in disbelief.

"What? I have to look out for myself..it was just laying there in the armory," Killian paused, surprised that he was trying to make excuses. His mouth thinned down to a hard line. "F**k you man, I had something until you came along."

"You never had anything Boyce," Javier responded, "and anything you might have had you ruined. Your work is poor, your attitude even worse and I don't have time to waste talking to you about it. If you had been in the Marines you might have been okay," the engineer said, "because someone would have beaten the piss out of you when you screwed up." He pulled a package out of the trunk and looked at the writing on the pneumatically sealed casing. Maglocks?

"They would've would they?" Boyce retorted. He walked over to the door but it was sealed tight. Killian kicked the door, swore, then kicked it again.

"Hell yeah, and if you had stolen something," the ensign pulled an emergency beacon out of the trunk and activated the light, "they would have killed you..especially if it was beer or porn." The light glowed a bright blue with an intensity that increased every moment it stayed illuminated. Javier switched the emergency light beacon off and opened the toolkit, he removed a laser welder and a magneton scanner. An idea had been forming in his mind since Boyce had shown him the stolen EV suits. "See if you can get any information from the console."

"What sort of information?"

"Something that may help us? Oxygen levels? Which decks have environment? Ship status? Think like an engineer.."for once in your life. How did he get through the Technical Academy? "Here," Javier tossed him the tricorder from inside the toolkit, " see if you can link up with the computer." Boyce caught the tricorder and started working with the console. Costala began working with the micro-grappler. It had been designed to help workers move cargo or themselves in zero G conditions. Unfortunately the magnetic hooks had been removed, rendering the tool useless. Obviously Boyce didn't know that or didn't care. Javier thought as he repaired the grappler. He used the laser welder to attach the emergency beacon to the grappler's frame after narrowing the spectrum of light that the beacon emitted. The blue light refracted through the emitter crystal of the beacon and left the instrument in a thin, piercing blue stream of light. Javier tested the light on the bulkhead of Boyce's quarters. It pinpointed where he directed the light, almost like a laser sight. "Perfect." the engineer remarked.

<>This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.<>

"What was that?"

"The computer's answer to my question about environmental integrity outside of Main Engineering," Boyce said. "It gave me the creeps. Also the lifepods have all been launched..empty by the look of things."

"And probably means that there is no safe area in which to approach that section," Javier said, sighing in disappointment. Focus on what needs to be done. You can worry about what to do once you get there. he thought as he welded the maglocks to the sides of the beacon-grappler. The tool began to look like a medieval mace after he had attached the maglocks to it.

<>Shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without motion.<>

"What was that in reference to?" Javier asked Boyce as he ran the magneton scanner over the maglocks, reversing their polarity.

Sure she's a stuck up bitch but I don't want her to die. That would be a waste of a fine piece of ass. Ass I have yet to experience..hang on Oakley, Daddy's coming. Killian thought as he listened to the verse. "Engineering's status, we have to get there, traversing the corridors will take too long. Even in the EV suits we'll have to lower the force-fields individually," he answered. Killian looked up to find his former CO suited up, holding his helmet in one hand and what looked like a strange weapon in the other.

"We're not going through the corridors," the Chief Engineer informed him, as he put on the helmet and locked it into place. Boyce watched as the Chief adjusted the suit's life-support system, while the Crewman pulled on the second EV suit. "How the hell are we going to get to Engineering then?" Boyce's voice sounded tinny over the internal commlink.

Javier smiled as he picked up the spatial charge, Boyce's weapon of choice from the Armory. "I can set this to blow out your view-port."

"View-port?! Then what? Walk outside and..shit no!"

"You can stay here then," Javier replied before walking over to the room's view port and affixing the charge to the clear durasteel. He set the timer and blast radius to be contained. The charge's fail-safe would create a shield behind the charge, pushing the force of the explosion forward. The Chief Engineer set the magnetic soles on his boots, indicated that Killian do the same, then walked over to where Boyce stood, near the door.

"Sorry about your quarters."

Before Boyce could reply his attention was drawn to the charge which had lit up with green lights. His eyes widened. Javier witnessed the explosion in the reflection from Boyce's visor. The shield sprang from the device a nano-second before the explosion blew out the viewport. The charge was sucked out into the vacuum of space, along with everything else in Boyce's quarters except the two men. The trunk of stolen goodies was gone in an instant.

*From T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-10-2008

::Main Engineering::

The first alarm had sounded General Quarters, the second had alerted the engineers to the decompression, the third was still sounding and Mustapha and the others had yet to figure out a way to make it stop. The third alarm began when anti-matter containment failed. Wallfram's team couldn't find any sort of device and the tachyon pulses had increased until the shielding in the core had failed, despite T'Bay's best efforts.

"We must eject the core," Mustapha finally said. The engineers couldn't leave and so the Senior Chief ordered them to put on EV suits for extra protection. They all knew that core ejections ususally failed, often with disastrous consequences.

"Chief, we're short three suits," Oakley informed him as she returned with an EV suit for Mustapha while fastening up her own. "But since Tehamia and Kowalski are in sickbay and…we have just enough," Heather said, refusing to mention Obatu's death.

Mustapha shrugged on the suit without commenting then began the procedure for ejecting the core. He instructed the other engineers to take cover behind a protective force-field while he and Oakley worked together. The crucial moment came when Ibrahim had to enter his codes that would open the ventricle port and release the core out into space.

"Ibrahim-Episilon-Delta-Five," the Senior Chief voiced to the computer.

<>This is the dead land. This is cactus land.<>

"Chief, nothing is happening. The tube door opened, but the core is not moving," Oakley said in panic. Mustapha repeated his codes but nothing happened. The core hummed dangerously and knowing that a containment breach was imminent, Mustapha put on his helmet. Eli..Katie..I love you both.

<>In death's other kingdom. Walking alone.<> the computer spat.

"What do we do now?" Heather asked in confusion after securing her helmet.

"Nothing. There's nothing we can do. There's no manual release."

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-10-2008

USS Hawking
Under the Shadow…

He was on the floor.

He didn't know how he'd gotten there, or when but it had to have been sometime before the blade had been withdrawn from…

Before it had been withdrawn because he'd made the crippled rush when he'd seen where the dagger was going and then he'd already been flat out, Seth's foot pressed against his spine when T'Shaini… Wendy… slid bonelessly down, eyes going cloudy with the kind of pain she never could have known. That she never should have known.

Janus had been right. Where there is life, there is hope. So she'd taken the life which had embodied the hope. No slouch, that Janus…

"Take it away," he heard from where he lay, useless as a piece of meat. He watched as Sara's hand reached down, grabbed the limp arm and began to drag Wendy's unheeding body away, away to where he could no longer see…

His lungs automatically expanded as the pressure from behind was released. Why not, he thought, why not let him get some air.. handcuffed, broken leg, broken everything… what's he gonna do? He couldn't even keep us from killing…

“Old business, Harry,” he heard the quiet reminder. And now there was Shaun’s new hand… dragging him up, propping him against the side of the recreated shuttle and holding him there until the recreated Seth took over as coat hanger.

Janus oh so carefully wiped the green-tinged dagger onto Harry's uniform, just above the heart. Carefully she stowed the newly-cleaned blade in her belt. Carefully she reached into a pocket and withdrew a small metal vial, tightly sealed.

"'Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow'."

She was staring at the container, looking at the warped reflection of her own eye, cast in silver. “Shaun thought that, the first day you met, after you came into his office, all ingenuous and official.” She looked up at him, “When you began the calculated deconstruction of my entire existence.”

Finn looked away again. There was nothing they could say that he wanted to hear. His ears agreed as he felt the telltale ache of a pressure change. The foretold death of the Hawking. A subsequent shudder almost dropped him, his left leg mostly useless but Anderson's paw pressed him back against the shuttle and prevented the fall.

"Look at me, when I'm talking to you."

Harry ignored the order, "Why," he asked, his eyes locked instead on a dark heap, discarded in the center of the bay, "are you afraid you'll disappear if no one's watching?"

The following backhand barely registered.

A buzzing in her ears was the first thing she was aware of…the next was pain. Am I still bleeding? Unwilling to give away the fact that she was alive and aware T'Shaini lay as still as possible. The overwhelming rage she had felt (for the first time in her life) at the news of the Hawkings incipient demise was nothing in comparison to what began to consume her when she felt a jolt followed by a change in pressure and realized what that must indicate.

"Maybe this will spark some interest," Janus said, moving slightly so, once again, she could look into the blue eyes that he'd first seen on Earth, a million years ago. Holding up the palmful of metal, "I bet you know what this is…" the lilting tease.

"I bet you never had an original thought in your lives," Finn responded, more out of habit than desire. He tried to look around his torturer but, like a neglected kid, Janus kept moving into his line of sight.

"I've had plenty, oddly however, the memory of my eyeballs melting tends to wipe them away before they can take hold,” pulling back from the anger, grasping onto the sick glee with both hands, “you’ll know how that feels soon enough.” Finn’s lack of response left her frowning, looking for a glimmer of anything in the dead blue pools of his eyes.

Shrugging off the niggling discontent, she stepped back, making room for Sara, who, her baggage dispatched, joined Seth. Together, the images of the two people who had once defined Harry's world moved him forward, staggering on his one functional leg, towards the shuttle’s ramp, towards where Acker had been standing when Sara had died. Where everything had, he’d thought, ended.

If only. His gaze returned to the fallen T'Shaini…

Harry jerked to a halt, rocked sideways and with that jarring motion, the instrument he'd stashed up his right sleeve slid further down to rest precariously against the metal of the restraint. Twitching his arm as he twisted his left hand, Harry caught the slender object, tried to feel how it activated.

“What are you doing, Harry?” Janus slid up behind him, easily removing the tech from his cuffed hand before pressing forward, hard against his back and reaching over his shoulder to display the autosuture, “Planning to heal me to death?” she taunted, her breath warm on his cheek. When he made no comment she tossed the device negligently away and Harry watched as it skittered to a halt against a familiar, black-clad leg.

“Had to try,” he said to Wendy, “Can’t give up…”

The sensation of a light tap arousing T'Shaini from her inexorable slide back into unconsciousness she heard his voice echo in her head…can't give up…can't give up.

“No, you can't.” Harry's view changed rapidly, as Janus came round to face him, “That’s the problem with you, Finn, you can’t give up… you… never… stop.” Her face twisted in old anger as he finally looked back at them, “You press and press and press until you crush the life out of your prey… you could have let it go, after Laslow and Willet build the search program but you refused to believe her when she told you all the accounts were frozen. You just had to go back, had to double check, and then you had to go to Mars and you had to visit Granther and you had to pull that trigger…”

“Yes,” Finn agreed, not looking away, this time. “I did.”

Naked fury had them wrapping a fist around the smug bastard’s bleeding throat, enjoying the small clicking of the compressed larynx, “And after you murdered him, you had to trace his last transmission to Shaun, had to hunt him down like a rabid dog and on the Maru, when it all could have ended, when I could have made an escape, you had to try and change shuttles… you had to make it impossible for Sara to get me out…” she ripped her hand away, adding a series of deep scratches to the track the dagger had left.

Fingers stretched bit by bit until they finally reached the object that had been discarded in her direction. Excruciatingly slowly she pulled it up the length of her body until through eyes opened to bare slits she could identify it. Auto suture. Hope…as misplaced as it may be, flared up to take its place beside the pain and rage.

“She did,” Harry rasped, completely over it and becoming distracted by a new buzzing in his ears, a subliminal cue that things were about to go more wrong than even Janus knew, “She did get Shaun out.”

“Not whole, not even remotely like he was and because of that, because even then you had to keep coming, all the way to the Gamma Quadrant, he found me.”

That got to him. Janus was pleased to see the regret: paining Harry more than any of the physical damage she'd done to him, was the damage done to Vanona because Finn wouldn't give up the chase.

Holding up the vial, the tiny coup de grace, she carefully cracked the seal. A significant part of their being had trouble doing even that much. Her hand began to tremble and she willed it to quiescence, “You’ll see,” they whispered, “you’ll see,” and gently she brought the tiny phial close, gently, she tipped it, and watched the involuntary tic as the icy chemical joined the line of blood welling from the shallow slice in his throat, “you’ll see…”

T'Shaini, Janus, Harry

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-10-2008

::Outside Hull::
::USS Hawking::

=^=What was that?=^=

The black space above them had suddenly flared with blue light. =^=It's the shields.=^= Javier explained as he worked his way down the underside of the ship. =^=Probably just a random flare up from a meteorite or debris hitting the shields. Or they might be failing or randomly re-cycling, with the state of things on board the ship anything is possible.=^= He looked up, and once again, the engineer lost his bearings for a few moments before returning his eyes to the ship's hull.

=^=This is a f**ked up plan, it will takes us weeks to get to Engineering this way.=^= Boyce grumbled, =^=I'm going to file a complaint to Starfleet Command about my possessions. Some of that stuff was mine…=^=

Javier placed the micro-grappler that he had repaired in Boyce's quarters against his shoulder. The engineer activated the beacon but instead of it flashing outward the beacon emitted a pinpoint beam of light. He used this light to aim at a place on the ship's hull then 'fired' the beacon/maglock projectile. It travelled a hundred or so meters before striking the hull and magnetically attaching itself to the hull plates. =^=Hold on to the grappler but keep your hand away from the cable.=^= Javier instructed the slack-jawed Boyce. The crewman took hold of the stock. =^=I'm not an idiot.=^=

=^=Could've fooled me..=^= Javier replied before hitting the retraction button, reversing the mechanism and pulling both men away from the hull and toward the grappler's projectile. Boyce's reply was lost in a yell of surprise. The cable reeled in quickly, sending both men shooting across the distance between grappler and projectile. =^=OH HELL YEAH!!!=^= the engineer yelled despite the direness of the situation. Repeating the move several more times, the two men found themselves crossing the ventral section of the ship in short leaps.

=^=Chief! The core ejection port is open!=^= Boyce suddenly exclaimed as Javier was preparing to fire the grappler once more. The Chief of Engineering adjusted his aim and fired the magnetic bolt near the port's opening. =^=What the hell are you doing?=^= Boyce yelled, but Costala had already hit the retract function and the two men moved towards the port. =^=You're gonna get us killed you crazy sonuvabitch..get us away from here!!=^= They both landed beside the open hatch, their boots clanging against the hull. =^=Jesus, give me that,=^= Boyce yelled angrily as he tried to grab the grappler which Javier used to slug him in the gut with. Boyce's face registered pain and surprise before doubling over slowly. =^=Shut up asshole!!=^= Javier said then turned back to the inside of the ejection port which was lit up by the ship's running lights. =^=We're dead anyway if the core ejects and explodes while the shields are up.=^= The lights from his EV suit played over the object he had noticed when Boyce had pointed out the open port.

The engineer squatted down next to the device. It was an explosive. If the core is ejected now it will detonate..the ship will be blown to pieces. Javier thought as he set the grappler down and delicately began to dismantle the device. From behind him, the engineer heard a dull thunk, he turned to watch Boyce glide away as the retractor took the crewman a safe distance from the open port. =^=Boyce, you coward, get back here.=^=

=^=Sayonara Sir, I'll be sure to look up that hot-ass girlfriend of yours after your funeral.=^= was the only reply Javier received.

The engineering officer shook his head and went back to work. He almost wished he had killed Boyce when he had the chance. Maybe T'Shaini will snap his neck if I don't make it through this. Javier wondered as he worked to disarm the bomb. He worked as quickly as the EV gloves would allow, hoping that the core would not drop through the chamber and kill them all.

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-10-2008

USS Hawking
Main Security/Auxiliarly Tactical - Deck 14

“The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.”

“No joy,” Aengus said, as Darbs finished the last line from
‘Morning at the Window,’ “What’s next?”

“Try this… from something called ‘Cousin Nancy,’” she took a deep breath than intoned in as cultured a voice as she could fathom, “Upon the glazen shelves kept watch/Matthew and Waldo./ guardians of the faith,/
The army of unalterable law.”

“Noth… no, wait…” McMennan stared at the screen which, rather than tossing complimentary verses back to him for every poem they uttered, was actually accessing the Hawking’s sensors.

“HOT DAMN!” the exultant cry from the Tactical console charged through the connecting arch. “What did you guys do?”

“Quoted ‘Cousin Nancy’” Saunders yelled back.

“Next time you see Nancy, give her a big wet one from me!” Peress hollered before bending down over the data that, though welcome, was also more than a little dire. “Shit,” he muttered, tapping in requests for realtime damage assessments.

Leaning over the large human’s shoulder, Dullak made a short ‘tsking’ sound.

From what they could see, over half, perhaps as many as three quarters of the vessels ASRV’s had ejected but the hatches had failed to seal behind the erupting pods. The sensors put a good quarter of the ship in vacuum, the rest either locked down by shields and bulkheads. The external shields were active but fluctuating, leading to significant structural stresses to a few areas of the hull.

Pockets of life signs throughout the Hawking were welcome but there were none emanating from the bridge… maybe there was interference from the shields, or maybe the sensors weren’t a hundred percent… Zane stared at that intel for quite some time, pulling out only when he felt the bartender’s hand on his shoulder.

“Is there any way to know if this information is available throughout the ship?” the elder man asked.

“I… no… not yet.”

“Then we need to keep looking for a way to wake up the communications,” he suggested mildly.

“Right… Saunders! McMennan!” he shouted back to the main office, “We’re still trying to open coms…”

“We’re trying out ‘Sweeney Erect’ right now!” Aengus’ bellow returned.

“I’ll see if I’ve missed anything in my list,” Dalluk said, going back to entering every phrase he could find that sounded like, ‘let us talk to each other.’”

Peress only nodded, his mind wrapped in the number of lives they stood to lose… wondered how many they had already lost…

Post featuring Security NPC’s Zane Peress, Aengus McMennan, Darby Saunders and Dalluk the Bartender

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-10-2008

::Main Engineering::
::USS Hawking::

=^=..I repeat, this is Senior Chief Ibrahim in Engineering. The core has gone critical. We are unable to eject the core. Abandon ship. Abandon ship.=^= Mustapha said again and again. But there was no answer. The others aboard the ship were either dead or unable to respond. The thought hit Mustapha hard and for a moment he faltered.

=^=It's been a pleasure serving with you Chief.=^= Oakley commented finally, accepting that soon it would all be over. She stuck her hand out and it was enveloped by Mustapha's. Inside the small chamber, protected by a force-field, Paven tapped on Christine's visor then drew the letter I, the outline of a heart, then the letter U against the pane for her to see. Wallfram smiled and moved forward, placing her lips against the inside of her visor as her helmet met Bayal's. The two shared a kiss, their lips never meeting, broken only when Paven said, =^=I love you Chris. I'm sorry I never told you before..I was a coward.=^=

::Core Ejection Port::

This is the way the world ends. Javier thought as he worked. Was it a warning? Or a hint?

=^=..I was a coward.=^= filtered through his suit's comm.

=^=Boyce? Is that you Boyce?=^= the Chief Engineer responded.

::Ventral Hull::

Killian took aim with the modified grappler. Goodbye Chief. the engineer thought as he fired the projectile towards the open pod door. It stuck against the hull and he hit the retract button. He was making for the shuttlebay. There he could procure a shuttle and leave the Hawking for good. I'll set up on the Outpost with a couple of Orion women and screw their… was as far as the thought went before the beacon/projectile snapped off of the grappler. Boyce let go of the grappler and grabbed at the cable. The gloves slid off of the cable as he grasped at it frantically. =^=Shit! Help me!=^= Killian yelled as he floated away from the ship.

The shields flared blue and recycled, allowing a few small pieces of debris through, one of the pieces struck Boyce's helmet, ventilating his suit and the engineer's skull. Killian spasmed and then succumbed to death in the black void of space.

::Main Engineering::

=^=Chief is that you?=^= Paven asked again as Mustapha linked his suit with the crewman's utilizing an optic cable. =^=Chief are you okay?=^=

::Core Ejection Port::

=^=Costala here, I think Boyce is KIA though. DO NOT EJECT THE CORE.=^= he said specifically. The engineer removed the explosive device from the port and then broke it down into components, ensuring that it could not be activated remotely.

::Main Engineering::

=^=Javier we cannot eject the core..but it has gone critical. My codes won't work; can you use yours?=^=

::Core Ejection Port::

Javier looked up the tube towards the core. If he used his codes the core would slide down the tube, crush him to a pulp then knock his lifeless body out into space. Not how I thought I would go.. If he didn't use his codes the ship would be caught up in the massive explosion that followed the chain-reaction within the core, possibly killing everyone onboard.

=^=Computer voice recognition pattern, Costala, J. Verify.=^=

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-11-2008

USS Hawking
Library - Deck 5

Jen watched Nate as he assumed full authority and, she had to say, even as young as he was, he could pull out the intimidation with the best of 'em… well maybe not as eptly as Admiral Nechayev but that wasn't really a fair comparison. The two battered crew members they'd found commiserating in the darkened room had had an interestingly abbreviated tale to tell regarding her missing godfather. "So you're saying a guy who was still coming out of sedation dragged the two of you in here and beat the crap out of you?" she inserted sweetly, "Even if we assume that's how it played out, your sob story isn't helping us track that ruthless Finn bastard down…"

The captain threw her a quick, wondering glance but then Jacobs was talking about how Finn, just before departing, had requested the location of Lieutenant…

"Hawthorn," Nate repeated the name.

"… and the computer had Hawthorn in Counselor T'Shaini's office," Zach finished, realizing belatedly that there were priorities beyond playing CYA with the captain.

"Dahrk, you… just stay here," the youth nodded to Jenny and they made for the exit but before they crossed the threshold, the door slammed closed in their faces to the resounding tune of the red alert klaxon's. "Computer, what's happening?" he asked, before remembering that the computer wasn't quite itself.

"They all go into the dark,/The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant…"

Jenny blinked. "Am I over-interpreting does that sound like…"

"Decompression." Nate, somewhere beyond anger, pounded a useless fist into the door. He gave himself over to the wave of helpless fury for all of about five seconds before turning to face those trapped with him, "Jacobs, Toldar, start tearing this place apart and find anything that might be useful…"

"What might…?"

"Anything that's not freaking nailed down could helpful so just start digging!" The teenager had nil patience with these two bozos, "Darhk, you boot up one of the terminals and see if you can get any useful data on the current situation." He looked at Jenny, who was waiting for her own instructions but, at the same time, sort of bouncing on the balls of her feet in a subconscious indication that she really wanted to be moving…

"What do we do?" she asked as the other three followed Benjamin's orders, even Dahrk was uncharacteristically silent as he sat down to the nearest desktop.

"We interrogate the computer," he said, "and find Hawthorn." And he had little doubt that, where they found Hawthorn, they'd find Finn. Given the last known location for the saboteur, T'Shaini's office, he dared not think who might else be at that particular party.

Featuring the psychic input of Captain Benjamin with some observations by NPC Jenny Anderson and the hovering presences of Toldar, Zachary Jacobs and the remarkably quiet Dahrk

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-11-2008

USS Hawking
Under the penitential gates…

"… you'll see…"

Come on, come on…. Weak with blood loss and sluggish with caution T'Shaini drew the auto suture up her side. Thermolyte. Caution brushed aside by urgency as she registered what was happening she positioned it as best she could and depressed the plunger.

Feeling the burning cold of the thermolyte tracing down his collarbone, Harry was distracted by Hawthorn's… Janus’ expression. It was… well, for one thing she wasn’t gnashing her teeth at him. “What?” he heard himself asking, shivering slightly as the explosive soaked into his shirt, spreading itself into an incendiary stain waiting to be set off.

“He always wondered what drew her to you…” the avidly curious… or was it confused… young woman brought her face closer to his, “what would make her willing to sell out the Federation for you,” her lips brushed across Harry’s, “to die for you…” the whispered words fell away as he failed to respond despite the insistent, almost harsh, pressure.

Feeling the wound knit together T'Shaini breathed a sigh of relief…or tried to, even though the loss of blood had been staunched it was clear the knife had penetrated a vital organ. Breath shallow, forced by the blood pooling in her lungs, hands shaking with weakness and anger, overwhelming anger…even when she had allowed emotion she had never been touched by anything akin to it.

“Don’t,” he managed, pulling as far back from the strange assault as he could manage, “don’t.”

Allowing the retreat, Janus tapped her fingers over his lips, “Tastes like ashes.”

“You’d know,” the casual cruelty was out before he knew it was coming but he was distracted by a familiar humming… a subtle vibration trying to remind him of something… something important…

“You will, too.” Janus drew her phaser, dialed it to the lowest possible setting, only enough power to incite the explosive, and started to back away, wanting to watch his reactions, "when the thermolyte ignites, when the flames char your skin and crawl into your mouth and you're waiting for the pain to end…"

Thermolyte ignites… T'Shaini opened her eyes. Grinding her teeth, she shifted her weight to press herself up to her hands and knees. T'amah. Her weakness yet another spur to her rage gave her the strength to force her feet underneath her.

Refusing to see beyond the madness that was Janus, Harry latched onto the meaning of the low-decibel buzz he'd been hearing. “At least I’ll be in bad company,” he said coldly, pulling hard against his crutches, forcing both of them to turn and grab hold with both hands, “you and me, we can continue this debate in hell.”

“No joy on the scare tactics, Harry,” the reply was cool, “Like I told Wendy,” she smiled over the despair that name engendered, “I have a shuttle, waiting for me to hit the recall button…”

“Yeah, yeah, you’ve covered all the bases but the one where you can’t transport through the shields that have dropped around this holodeck…” Harry tried to put more weight on his left leg, tried to pull away from the two sentries who maintained his balance, “whatever disaster you've set in motion… and by the popping in my ears I’m betting there was some decompression involved… it raised the internals…”

Fury…anger…hatred, swirling like a maelstrom drew the counselor to her feet. One hand slid behind her back as the voices echoing through the shuttlebay threatened the destruction of everything she held dear.

Janus didn't respond, only stood staring at the ranting target.

“Come ON… how can you not hear? Hawthorn recognizes the sound, even if Acker can’t…” he yanked at his arms, almost falling as Sara’s grip faltered but Seth held him up, practically squeezing the life out of his left arm doing so. “If you screwed with the ship’s structural integrity, you can’t lower those shields without risking your own lives but if you don’t lower those shields, you have to stick around for the endgame and die with the rest of us.”

“I wouldn’t have… my plan was… the warp core… I had a plan…” Janus closed her eyes, listening, perhaps, or trying to reconstruct her actions… “I never set the codes for a decompression…”

“Maybe you didn’t,” Finn said, now the voice of reason, "Maybe that obviously non-Federation tech you've stolen is just a bit quirky, maybe it's targeting random systems…"

"And maybe you are merely stalling…"

"You know I'm not," the quiet denial drew her further in, "Acker knows I'm not."

Everything she held dear…Javier. She closed her eyes against the wave of pain that had nothing to do with her external wounds that washed over her. Her own death she could reconcile, his she could not. Eyes once again open, bright with determination she gripped the k bar he had given her and moved toward the focus of her hate.

"Kill the code," Finn was saying, his voice low, his eyes focused, "Kill the code that's killing the Hawking so you can live."

"You want me to spare the crew," the brown eyes, calm again, looked back at him.

"It's either that or go down with the ship," Harry pushed, "stop what you've started or you will die here."

Janus gave a slight, so slight, shake of her head before raising the primed phaser in perfect form and aiming it at the man who had, in his own way, created her, "You first," she said, her finger depressing the trigger.

JP Janus, Harry and Tee

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 03-11-2008

USS Hawking
Main Shuttlebay

=/\=… Come back… peat….spond if you are receiv….=/\=

Stryfe tried to blink away the haze while the mongo drumming session continued playing on his brain. “Stryfe,” he croaked, wondering who was calling and why and, more importantly, how could he get the timpani to stop beating on his skull.

=/\=Stryfe… this is Petty Officer Gran… I’m in the shuttle Vespucci with Khan, Hano and S’Elk… what’s your twenty?=/\=

In the shuttle? Why were they in the shut…

Then he remembered and the pain was forgotten as he straightened: looking out of the window of the Wraith he could see the shuttlebay, as quiet as a graveyard and for good reason. =/\=I’m in the Wraith,=/\= he responded, realizing quite late that the communications weren’t going through his combadge but, rather, the alien fighter’s systems. “Com’s are still down,” he said aloud.

=/\=Vespucci is online, but our combadges aren’t good for more than tracking devices at present,” Gran’s rough voice confirmed. “With you, we’ve accounted for most of the crew who were in the shuttlebay when we lost atmo.=/\=

=/\=How did it happen? Was there a hull breach… are we under attack?=/\=

=/\=Speculating on the how is a waste of time,=/\= Gran said shortly. =/\=Do you recall seeing what might have happened to Hyvoth and Briggs? =/\=

=/\=Hyvoth…” Vince cleared his throat as the image bubbled up from the morass of concussion, the Benzite officer throwing Briggs clear of the closing shuttlebay doors before attempting to follow… =/\=Hyvoth got Briggs clear… if the corridor’s pressurized she made it but…=/\= his voice ran out on him…

=/\=Understood.=/\= Gran’s response sounded no different than before, except that it did. Hyvoth was Security, as was Gran. She’d done her duty, hopefully saved another officer, but dead was dead and the knowing echoed in the Tellarite’s voice, or Vince’s ears… whichever.

=/\=So, now what?=/\= Stryfe asked, staring out the window at the quiet.

=/\=We wait… and unless you’ve got active ventilation in that toy, you’d best cut the chatter and save your oxygen.=/\=

=/\=Yeah, right.=/\= Vince settled back to wait, and watch, and not think about the uniform he could see, ten meters to his port.

Channeling Vincent Stryfe and featuring NPC PO1 Gran

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-11-2008

USS Hawking
Beneath Deck 5 en route to Holodeck 2

Following the only path that was open to them, Jenny slunk after her fearless leader who had, against her recommendation, taken the lead when the two young people had 'created' an access hatch to the crawlspace below the decking (phasers are my friend). Blowing her hair away from her face, Jenny took a brief moment to thank her mother, the teacher, for the emphasis on ancient lit. Of course, since the disaster on the Anarasi Maru, she'd spent no little amount of time reviewing the works of one Thomas Stearns Eliot, if only to better understand the mind of the man who'd been responsible for her father's death…

'After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by by vanities. Think now,
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed
In memory only, reconsidered passion.'

"It's talking about the holodeck," she'd insisted, after the rambling computer had given the same response to their query on Hawthorn's whereabouts for the third time. "'Contrived corridors'; 'deceives'; 'giving famishes the craving'… contrived, made up, fake, and the giving famishes the craving because it's not real…. it's the holodeck…"

"Okay, okay," he'd run a distracted hand through his hair, "but which one?"

"'Half-past two…'"

"There you go," she'd said, practically exploding with the need to MOVE.

And now, here they were, creeping through the underspace between decks, dodging shorted out circuitry and shielded pockets of presumed vacuum. It was slow going, very slow, and there was no guarantee they'd get where they needed to be in time to be of any use.

Stopping for what seemed like the fifth time in as many minutes, just short of a glimmering blue hued force field, Nathan took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow with the back of his sleeve. "I think" he sighed, leaning against the bulkhead in the darkened crawlspace. "that if we can get to an access terminal, or environmental control, that I can re-pressurize the ship."

"Or we could try and stop the problem at the source," Jen scooted back so she could fit between supports, "Hawthorn made this happen and from all the intel we've gathered, she's doing it with some as-yet-unidentified tech… something portable which means…"

"Like a remote control?" Nathan shook his head. "I don't know. It looks like a hack to me. Some kind of worm. But the coding is all out of line. It's not Federation programming. I know that. It doesn't even seem compatible with our systems." He paused for a few seconds, racking his brain for a memory that he couldn't ever find. "I wish I was on the bridge or in engineering or something. So I could have the thing in front of me."

"If we continue to the holodeck and take out Hawthorn, you will have 'the thing' right in front of you," it was hard talking through clenched teeth so Jen took a careful breath before continuing, "According the the CSO's latest finding, the saboteur was escaping sensor tags by bending them… or space… or something f**cking technical… around her with a PORTABLE device! How much alien tech do you think she's got on her?" She crawled forward, the better to eyeball her superior officer. "And how much time do you think we have to review our options? She's finishing her game now… our best and only bet…"

"Yeah? and what if we can't get to her huh? what if the Holodeck is sealed off? What if she uses her magic remote control to put up an alien shield around it, and we just wait outside until she's ready to come out? You think of that? Do you think we're just going to walk right in, say "Hi… it's over Vanona, like some kind of old movie?" He reigned in the frustration and continued in a more civil tone. "Look, All I know is that right now, we're running around in the dark. We don't know if we're going to get there before she does whatever she plans on doing. We don't have access to the computer, and we don't even know what's going on on the rest of the ship." Not knowing. that was worst of it. For all he knew, the rest of the ship could have been sucked into space, except for them and of course, Vanona. "We don't even know how she did the shit!" Frustration had returned, threatening to lash out and hit something close by.

A dozen inappropriate answers danced across her tongue but she held onto one thought, "Computer, is holodeck two shielded above the deck five subflooring?"

"Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves…"

"I say we go for it," she pressed, focusing on the goal, "we are closer to the holodeck than any other useful location. If that's not acceptable, point me in the right direction and I'll go alone while you look for a functioning computer…"

"You're not going by yourself." He asserted quickly. Quite quickly actually, as the suddeness of the response left a sort of mini vacuum in his brain, much like the one impeding their movement in the corridors. "Erhm… Harry would kill me if I let you go by yourself so.. " He said seconds later, the vacuum finally giving way to the rush of thought again. He once again shook his head, knowing the obvious course of action. They'd go to the holodeck. She would go there anyhow, and Nathan thought it best that she had someone with her, If nothing else just to say I told you so when the thing backfired but then again, should they happen to get in and confront the saboteur, Vanona might have some insight as to her methods. Or… if they were unable to get into the holodeck, then they could find another place to go. "Come on then." He said, moving in their previous direction. "We'll do it your way."

Blink. "Okay?" She knew it shouldn't have been that easy but, right now, her instincts were kicking her in the ass to nod, smile and, most importantly, end this. "Thanks," the unplanned word slid through the darkness. She had no way of knowing if he'd heard.

JP by Nate Benjamin (the original) and NPC Jenny Anderson

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-12-2008

USS Hawking
The last twist of the knife…

"You first," she said, her finger depressing the trigger.

The blade of the k bar flashed briefly before descending to bury into Hawthorn's arm. A feral sound accompanied T'Shaini dragging the blade down toward the cuff laying open her forearm in its wake. Ripping the device free with the tip of her knife she yanked it to the side and watched it sail across the shuttlebay. The crack of its landing was followed by a flickering of their surroundings. As she brought the k bar up to face Janus she heard Harry fall to the floor behind her as the holodeck constructs began to degrade.

Janus' answering growl was low as she closed with the depressingly not dead Vulcan. Not dead, but barely standing. With a grin that came off more as a snarl, she kicked T'Shaini's knife out of her hand before plowing her bloodied right fist into the other woman's stomach. "You should have stayed down," she said, grabbing the gasping T'Shaini's hair and slamming her down onto the yellow-latticed floor of the denuded holodeck. Seeing her slump, a small, broken thing, Janus returned her attention to her purpose.

She walked over to where Harry was struggling to his one functional knee, "What does it take to make you people stop? It's over, Harry, can't you just quit?"

Sweating, bloody, his own breathing labored with pain and effort, he didn't say anything but the answer to their question was in his eyes.

"No, of course you can't." She once more raised her sidearm, point blank, at the stubbornness that was Harry Finn, "But then, neither can Shaun."

Calling on unknown reserves T'Shaini launched herself from the floor, driving her good shoulder into Janus's midsection, causing the shot to go wild. Fueled by the ferocity of a wild animal protecting her young she forced her prey down. Beneath her a familiar shape pressed into her, freeing the dagger from where it had been stowed by Janus, the dagger that had killed Dana, without thought or logic to cloud her raging emotions, T'Shaini plunged it into her chest.

Through the shock of once again being denied their deepest desire, past the slick, wet, cold intrusion of the blade into their heart, around the swirling miasma of two beings sharing what was never meant to be shared, a small, bright light that had once been called Vanona shimmered. She who had been loved by family, honored by friends and who had served the Federation with the intensity of any full-blooded Klingon warrior, shone forth from the rain that gathered in her dying eyes and raised her hand to the one who had administered the fatal freedom… the first unchained taste of herself she had known since reaching down to help a scarred little man in an alley on Megiddo. Blinking away the coming darkness she gently rested her palm on T'Shaini's ravaged cheek. This woman was my friend.

"Thank you," the whisper floated before the dying of the light and then her hand dropped softly to the deck as, at the last, Vanona Hawthorn fled the long dark night of her soul.

JP Janus, Harry, Tee…and Vanona

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 03-12-2008

::Warp Core Ejection Port::

This is the way the world ends..

=^=Computer Verify Costala - Gamma Epsilon Kappa Omega.=^= the Chief Engineer stated calmly.

«»For thine is the Kingdom.«» the computer responded poeticly but in affirmation.

Now all he had to do was give the order. There were things to say, words he wished he had said but there was no time. No time.. The warp core ejection seemed so different from the other methods the saboteur had used. It was quick and effortless in its design. The explosives had been the fail-safe. The core would have never safely passed into space as the ship purged it. Such an abbreviated end for a person who likes to draw the pain out. Javier thought. Perhaps he wanted to wash his hands of us quickly.

=^=Chief are you still there?=^= Mustapha queried.

=^=I am. I know time is short. Tell T'Shaini that I'm sorry I didn't get to..well just tell her that I..=^= Javier said as he struggled to voice the words that only the two of them had shared so often.

«»Not with a bang but with a whisper.«» the computer suddenly chimed in.

=^=This is the way the world ends.=^= Javier whispered.

=^=What did you say Chief?=^=

=^=Not with a bang but with a whisper.=^= he repeated. Could it be? Wouldn't he want the blame to be with the Hawking's crew rather than to appear like sabotage? The explosives would make it seem as if the engineers had not acted quickly enough to avert a catastrophe. =^=Mustapha! Shut down the computers. Restart them all and run level six diagnostics.=^=

=^=Sir? We don't have time. Containment has failed..the core is..if we don't..=^=

=^=Now Senior Chief.=^= Javier replied, using a tone he didn't often speak with. =^=Computer Abort core ejection procedure.=^=

«»For Thine is Life..«»

He waited, hoping that he had correctly translated what the computer had been trying to tell him all along. That the saboteur had been toying with the engineers much like he had with the rest of the crew. Pushing them towards the edge so they would readily accept the blade, and fall on it. They were adrenaline junkies who couldn't possibly see the otherside, even Javier hadn't considered the option until the computer had tried to warn him. He wanted us to carry the blame. And the plan is insidious, just like he has acted in the past.

=^=Javier, it was a trick. The computer was running a training program! There never was any containment failure..the computer had been giving us false information.=^=Mustapha informed him. =^=My god, you nearly died because of a computer error.=^=

=^=Is everything secure?=^= he asked Ibrahim.

=^=Yes, we are fixing the problem. The worm that had infected the computer is revealing itself, we can now contain and immunize the systems.=^=

=^=Good work Mustapha, keep me informed,=^= Javier said as he climbed out of the ejection port and made his way towards the nearest empty lifeboat apperture. =^=Computer locate T'Shaini.=^=

«»Between the idea and the reality falls the Shadow.«»

Idea and reality? Holodeck? Why would she be there? Maybe it was the safest place close by when decompression occured? the engineer thought as he quickened his pace. It doesn't seem right though.

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-13-2008

USS Hawking
The empty chapel…

In the reticulated blackness of the hollow room death hovered, masking the distant sounds of the Hawking's klaxons and muffling the labored breathing of the two who yet lived; the two who watched over the one who had died.

More than died.

Anger drained away leaving her only the pain, pain and horror at what she had done…what she had felt. T'Shaini looked down at Vanona, now only Vanona, this woman was my friend. Reaching up, she closed her eyes, then slid off to her side, face pressed against the cool floor hoping it would dull the pain, any pain.


She opened her mouth as if to respond, but no words would come.

"Lieutenant," appealing to the officer rather than the woman, "we need the control… Janus' device…" he tried to find something, some gentleness, some way to reach the ruptured soul of the counselor but he was empty. Empty and busted and of no use to anyone, "I can't…"

"Device…" The harsh croak that was all that remained of her voice barely reached above a whisper. Forcing herself to raise her head enough to spot the mechanism mere feet away she half crawled, half dragged herself until she could reach it. Cradling it against her body she had to lean forward to rise to her feet trying to avoid moving the dislocated arm and shuffled forward toward Harry. Falling to her knees in front of him, she hissed as the shock of landing reverberated through her injured body.

He forced himself to focus on the remains of the stolen technology which was killing the ship but even as Wendy held it out for his view, he had to admit to yet another defeat. "I don't suppose you know how to work this thing?" he asked, looking up at the woman and just as quickly looking away. Only the sudden clenching of his hands, hidden behind his back, hinted at what he'd seen in her eyes.

T'Shaini shook her head wordlessly…

"Okay," he stared down at the ripped-open cuff that had somehow overwritten the Hawking's safeties, save the ship, save the ship…. He looked past the device, past T'Shaini's limp hand in which it rested, at the black floor of the raw holodeck. The device had been controlling the illusion of the Maru and that had faded when the the remote hit the deck. The shields were still functional, he could feel their subtle thrum so it was doubtful they could leave the room. "Maybe we need to just… break it some more?"

Wondering what they could possibly try next if breaking did not succeed T'Shaini began to shake her head when a sound from beneath them caught her attention. Tipping her head to the side, she frowned as she began to identify what she was hearing.

Catching the change in Wendy's posture, Harry looked up, "What…" he started to ask before the familiar telltale whine of a phaser being charged to critical told him what her Vulcan hearing had already noted. He couldn't pinpoint the location but if they could hear it, it had to be close and he was still no better than a breathing IED. "Move," he ordered but he wasn't sure she heard him. Sliding forward, the crushed leg dragging behind, he tried to shove an elbow into the seemingly frozen woman, "Wendy… you need to get awa…"

Pinpointing where the vibrations were emanating from the Vulcan shifted her body to provide some sort of shielding for the thermolyte covered man. Putting her hand down to cease the incessant shoving she shifted her gaze behind her. "No."

"Are you insane?" He tried to free himself from her hold, to lessen the threat and had to bite down on the shrieking from his busted knee… "Let go NOW."

"No…" She tried to lift one shoulder in a shrug, tactical error, swallowing against the sickness she felt inside she raised one brow. "Can it hurt more?" The reflected horror in her eyes making it clear she was not referring to a physical ailment.

Unwilling to accept that level of surrender, not from her, Harry allowed instinct to take over: flinging himself backwards, he twisted to cover the limpet of a counselor as she still held fast. Falling to the deck in a tangle of broken limbs he felt the heat of the blast rolling over his back and realized he was staring into her eyes as they waited, yet again, for everything to end.

Wendy and Harry

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-13-2008

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Deck 4 Jeffries Tube ::

“A duck,” Nils asked incredulously.

“No…nono,” Alex corrected crawling inches behind his section Chief. It was a view of the Bajoran he’d never intended to be so intimate with. “Not just any duck, Lieutenant. These are iconic ducks. Or at least, nephews of an iconic duck.”

“I don’t know what worries me more,” the Chief of Science said, rounding a corner on all fours. “The fact that Earth has iconic waterfowl or the fact that you deemed it at all appropriate to name your AI programs after them.”

“In Gorsky’s defense, these were some pretty mischievous ducks,” Bramley called from the rear. “I mean it sorta makes sense if you think about it.”

The Bajoran stopped dead and glanced over his shoulder down the length of the Jeffries Tube behind him. Alex nearly did a face plant he would have had nightmares about for weeks, but stopped in the nick of time.

“What,” Bramley said innocently.

“I think it only makes sense if you don’t think about it,” Nils said seriously before resuming their trek.

Groaning bulkheads and straining metal alloys all around them froze the crawling coterie in place. There was a brief pause and then the straining sound began again, this time accentuated by popping and a distinct chunking sound from ahead.

With tricorder already in hand Nils began reporting. “The way ahead is blocked… Prophets,” he added softly.

“Ummm…what the hell is going on,” Bramley called down the tube.

“The pressure differential around the ship is tearing her apart,” Alex answered soberly. “That’s my assumption anyway.”

“Astute assumption,” Nils said, doing his best to turn around in the cramped tube. “Structural integrity is failing without reinforcement. Evidently the systems are in too much disarray to shore up the tension.”

“Well… Oh…” Bramley seemed. “So nothing we do is worth a hill of beans unless the ship is repressurized?”

“Sounds about right,” Alex said, now nose to nose with the nurse. “We’re going to go back that way,” he quipped awkwardly in an attempt to make the obvious more obvious.

“There is an ODN relay back the way we came,” Nils said, thinking allowed. “If we can ascertain the source of the decompression, maybe we can affect a solution.”

“In other words, we can air up the tires,” Bramley joked as he finally turned himself around.

“No actually,” the Bajoran answered seriously. “Not that at all…”

Once they reached the relay and manually released the panel covering from the floor, they began assessing the situation. Flat on their bellies on either side, Alex and Nils applied their full on “geek.”

“Not good,” the nanotechnologist sighed.

“This doesn’t even make sense. I think the alien code is affecting systems at random at this point.” Nils felt genuinely confused. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the functions effected. “I think we may have inadvertently caused the ASRVs to fire when we…”

“…burned the bridge the code was crossing by shutting down the sensors. It…”

“…jumped to the ASRV subroutines and quite possible caused this abortion of escape pod launches.”

“Maybe we could…”

“…but that would require a little more technical know how than we collectively have bobbing around in our heads.”

“But your… iconic…duck…AI might be able to rewrite the subroutines on the fly.”

Bramley shook his head. He sat with his knees to his chest up against the wall of the Jeffries tube, listening to the two men embarrass themselves. “You guys give me a headache.”

“Gimme a sec…” Gorsky went to work on his modified tricorder. “I need to get Huey to understand exactly what the problem is before I set him loose trying to fix it.”

“Let’s hope he’s more reliable than his namesake,” Joseph quipped flippantly.

Despite all he’d been through Alex smiled. “Oh…he’ll make Donald proud.”

Nils eyes shot from the ODN to Alex. “Donald? Is he the iconic duck uncle?”

“Nice deduction,” Bramley said.

“Well that’s what they pay me for,” Nils answered stoically.

“Did you just make a joke, Chief,” Alex asked still deep in his tricorder.

“No and don’t call me Chief…” Nils shook his head and went back to the ODN. “I hate that.” A brief pause indicated the Bajoran’s wheels were turning. “Were these water fowl genetically altered to be more intelligent?”

Stunned silence was his only answer.

Alex answered with a hint of embarrassment in his voice. “No they… See actually… They were cartoons.”

Nils looked perfectly Vulcan in his response. An eyebrow slowly climbed his forehead before he answered. “A cartoon?”

“You know…animation, Sunday funnies, The Wonderful World of Disney…” Bramley said feigning irritation. “This is classic Terracana! Earth’s culture at the peak!”

“It’s a wonder you people made it out of the Stone Age,” the Chief of Science answered in exasperation.

“Ok I think I got it… If I tell Huey to recycle all the hatches then restructure the subroutines to automatically conduct self-regulating diagnostics…”

“…then each hatch individually will seal itself based on its parent programming. That assumes that…”

“…I know. We’ll have to hope the base programming hasn’t been completely deleted.”

“That’s pretty scary,” Bramley commented. His face expressed genuine fear. “And I’m not talking about Huey telling the escape pod berths what they can go do with themselves either. It’s not normal for two men to finish each others sentences like that.”

“Welcome to the science department,” Alex said, smiling. “Initializing Huey…”

“Cross your fingers,” Joseph said, as he crossed his own.

Nils flipped open his tricorder and monitored the variant pressures around the ship. He didn’t want to let on how dire their situation was, but the pressures were shearing the Intrepid class vessel apart. There was no telling how long she could hold out. With a sigh he cast a prayer down their Jeffries tube.

“May the Prophets guide Huey.”

Post featuring NPCs Joseph Bramley and

Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 03-13-2008

The detonation was… impressive. Not that Jenny hadn't used the old 'exploding phaser' trick in training but this was nothing like the holographic tests… somehow the programs had neglected to really capture the smoking remains of whatever object was being vaporized-slash-blown to smithereens.

The deck five subflooring was doing a bang up job of pointing out that particular oversight as her eyes teared and she bit back hard on the need to cough away the burning tickle in her lungs. Beyond that, in training, the 'captain' always waited for his or her security force to, oh, secure the disputed area before leaping in, half-cocked, half-blind and wholly unprepared for what might be waiting. "Nate…" the hiss came far too late as Jen was forced to follow the very limber youth through the gaping hole in the decking they'd just created with Uncle Harry's holdout. Her own phaser in hand she jumped and pulled herself up to see Nathan, weapon raised and Harry, rolling off a prone and horrifically bloodied T'Shaini and shouting the admonition to…

"Hold your fire! Hold your fire! Just… hold…"

"God," was all she could say. Nate didn't even have that much. Glancing at the suddenly much-younger-seeming captain, who was looking at… Jenny blinked, hard… and made herself take in the view of Lieutenant Hawthorn where she lay in a very specific kind of stillness, the haft of a dagger protruding from her chest.

"Report," the order was ragged…

Struggling to at least partially lift herself up the room began to spin, closing her eyes for a moment to orient herself T'Shaini answered, as best she could, the Captains order. "Hawthorne…she had been altered, was controlled by Shaun Ryan Acker, trying to…" Her fingers tightened around the mechanism Janus had used to manipulate the ships systems. We have no idea what it still is controlling, what might be triggered next…Nathan's knowledge and the borg technology he possessed could possible crack the codes. Blood still gurgling in her punctured lung she could not quite draw enough breath to articulate her thought, instead just slid the cuff on to the floor in the Captain's direction.

Looking back at Wendy as she proffered Janus' remote, Harry realized her color was wrong… T'Shaini's normally green-touched lips had taken on a frighteningly coppery cast and her breathing had become little more than shallow, desperate hitches…. "JEN!" he called out, trying to raise himself off the deck, trying to catch Wendy's eyes, trying to believe that she was not going to die here…

"I'm here," Jenny knelt beside the fallen counselor, gently raised her to a seated position to lean against the kneeling girl, which took some of the pressure off the damaged lung. "T'Shaini…"

The device…give Nathan the device…his expertise…if it is not shut down all that had happened would be for nothing. Panicked thoughts swirled in her brain, but all that she managed in real time was a small shifting of the hand which held the cuff and a whispered word. "Device."

Taking the proffered object as she realized that Uncle Harry's hands were cuffed God, Jenny passed it over to Nate and, as their eyes met, did not say 'I told you so'. Above and beyond everything else, the body not three meters distant was enough to quell anything approaching such lightness. "Just rest," she said to the Vulcan as she watched their captain bend over the alien technology.

Rest…how could she rest. Echoing corridors of emotion blasted open by her rage left cavernous spaces within which horror, despair and longing fought for precedence.

As the captain turned his eyes down to the strange piece of technology, Harry tried to continue where T'Shaini had left off… it was work not staring at her glassy eyes, not hearing the labored breathing… "Sir, that device is the most likely source of all the Hawking's malfunctions, from the sensor blackouts to… ah…" he realized that, though he'd speculated quite a bit, "to whatever's gone wrong, lately."

"No one's sure, exactly…" Nate murmured, his eyes narrowing as lines of code unkown to the Federation scrolled across the miniature viewscreen.

Jenny couldn't be sure but it seemed to her as if Nathan were in… he looked to be in some kind of pain. Speaking of, "Lieutenant… are you holding on?"

T'Shaini was familiar enough with field medicine to recognize that her body was going into shock, the tremors, the chill…but she nodded to Jenny, not wanting attention being drawn from the search. Hurry…hurry.

The captain was lost in cyberspace so, hearing Jenny's question Harry allowed himself to be pulled back to the wounded Vulcan… the sight was… it was less than encouraging. "Wendy," his hands flexed in their bindings as he struggled with the need to do something… anything… "listen… you have to hold on. Got that? I am ordering you to stay with us…"

T'Shaini flicked an ironic glance to the pips on her collar and then looked back at Harry with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, yeah," he locked eyes with her, "Pretend I'm an admiral," when that only raised her brow another millimeter he cracked a grin so broken that it had Jenny gasping before he said, "Pretend I'm Costala… you'd stick around for him, right?"

Between witnessing Harry struggle to keep her around, and the thought of Javier, T'Shaini felt an unfamiliar pricking at the corners of her eyes as they suddenly filled with tears.

"Try the coms."

Jenny blinked at his quiet order, "They haven't worked in…"

"Try them," Harry raised his eyes to the girl's "She needs medical attention and we…"

"Species 002."

JP Harry, Tee and the Cavalry!

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 03-13-2008

USS Hawking
Holodeck 2 - Deck 5

"Species 002."

At the quiet pronouncement, everyone, even T'Shaini, looked to the captain.

"Sir?" Harry sat back on his heel.

"This code was used by species 002," Nate was frowning, left hand dancing above the controls without, Harry noted, actually touching anything.

"Zero zero two," the older man repeated, "that would make this tech pretty damned…"

"Old, yeah," the teenager looked up once more, "Old and… way out… I mean… I don't remember much," not that everyone didn't expect him too but really, "but it was like, to them, dimensions were something that happened to other people… they crossed…"

"Other branes of reality," Harry inserted, having heard some of this, before. "But how do we shut it off?" He nodded towards Benjamin's phaser, "We thought of destroying it…"

"Shit no!" the youth's response had Jenny blinking. "I mean… look, it's like, these codes are traversing multiple dimensions, right? So if we just scrag the point of origin while they're still cycling…"

Really, there should have been crickets. "That would be bad?" Jenny offered.

"Yes, bad. Very bad. Bad to the nth times nth degree," Nate turned his attention back to the suddenly far-less-innocuous looking cuff in his hand. "Cause then, they wouldn't have someplace to go back to you know. they'd stay in our systems." He spared a quick glance up at the two of them, Jenny standing beside him, looking quite perplexed, and Harry cradling the fallen T'Shaini. "You have to shut it down the way it was meant to be shut down."

Don't cross the streams, Harry thought, then mentally kicked himself back into gear. "Jenny, the combadge…"

"Right… right," tapping her badge, holding T'Shaini up with her right arm, Jenny began a series of quiet hails for medical aid. She didn't look at Uncle Harry as the calls continued to garner no response.

The counselor's eyes, which had drifted shut to keep in the tears, opened wide and looked at Harry. The weight that lay on her chest suddenly shifted and lightened just a bit. Haltingly she more mouthed than spoke the word. "Compression."

"What?" Finn almost fell flat on his face, trying to catch what T'Shaini was saying and when he caught the word, "Sir? What did you do?"

"Nothing," Nate held up his hands as of to prove the point, "Why?"

"Listen," Jenny threw a look at her… what… captain, right, captain.

They all went still as, all around the soft whispering hiss of atmosphere, otherwise known as air, AKA life filtered through the walls surrounding them.

"Hot damn," Jen said, though quietly.

Nate bent back over Acker's device because one thing he knew, if he didn't get the codes to stop generating and close the dimensional gateway, they'd just end up in the same damn boat in the same damn river of crap without any damn oars… and he was completely over this shit. "Okay," he said aloud, trying to get out of Nate and into the code… "okay…"

The other three people in the room watched as Nathan Benjamin's eyes glazed over and, for some reason, the Borg implant over his eye came into sharper relief. To Harry, it seemed as if the teen were letting go of himself, somehow reverting to who he'd been, or not been, as part of the Collective.

T'Shaini was pulled out of the haze of pain watching the young Captain almost visibly sink into device to garner its secrets. It was as if she could see each lock on the mechanism giving way before him as the knowledge he was retrieving from the collective gave him the answers he was seeking. She was unsure whether it was his focus or the lack of oxygen that made him appear…other…other than Nathan, other than Captain Benjamin…

"Got it!"

But it was definitely Captain Nathan Benjamin who, after running his fingers over the small touchpad while everyone else held their collective breaths, raised his eyes in pure triumph… "got it," he repeated as, of a sudden, the com's sprang to life with a hiss of static and, air having returned to the Hawking, to all of the Hawking (though no one in the holodeck knew how) shields began to drop, emergency bulkheads slid back into holding position and the door to the room where so much had happened, finally… opened.

JP with Tee, Harry and the yutes (er, Nate and Jen, that is)

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 03-13-2008

The walk to the escape pod entrance had been uneventful, just the slow plodding of placing one foot in front of the other, until he was inside the ship. The pace was frustratingly slower than he needed to proceed and when he reached the ship's interior Javier moved as quickly as the bulky suit would allow. The Chief Engineer was met by a series of force-fields, a few of which he had navigated around by using the Jeffries tubes. But his progress was completely halted by the final containment field, which stubbornly refused to raise no matter how many override techniques he tried to employ. It was the section along which the holodecks were situated but the energy barrier would not budge.

=^=Computer I need some help here.=^= the engineer requested urgently through his EV suit's comm.

«»Remember us, if at all, not as lost…Sparks,«» the ship's computer stated. «»Stand-by.«»

The message gave him some hope as the computer had used his nickname. It's coming back online. The force-field suddenly vaporized, leaving the corridor open for him to proceed. The sound of pressurized air filling the decks came through the suit's auditory sensors causing Javier to check the environmental levels on the EV's wrist tricorder. Breathable atmosphere..sweet oxygen. as he skidded to a stop in front of the holodeck doors. They opened upon his arrival and he was met by the captain, a security officer and two scarecrows.

The 'scarecrow' that was being held up by the security officer monopolized his attention. Javier was too shocked to say anything, he had never seen T'Shaini so hurt or bloodied and her condition frightened and concerned him. The engineer unfastened the helmet of the EV suit, it hissed as pressurized air escaped from the inside of it, then he dropped the helmet to the floor. In an instant he was next to the young security guard who was supporting TShaini.

"Excuse me ma'am," Javier said politely as he picked T'Shaini up, cradling her in his arms, "I'll take her from here."

Panic at the suited figure entering rapidly shifting to an overwhelming relief as the helmet was removed and she saw that it was Javier, which then became mixed with a wash of guilt knowing that so many others must have lost their loved ones in this crisis. Unequipped to handle the ricocheting emotions and unable gather enough breath to express her gratitude, tears began to fall, unbidden as she rested her head on his chest.

=^=Anderson to sickbay we have a severe injury in holodeck two, request a medical team STAT=^=

Having lost her charge but gained communications, Jen followed through on Harry's original orders before joining her godfather as the affirmative from Dr. Stryfe came through.

The engineer just held T'Shaini as she cried; he didn't know what to say to her because it had been so long since he had witnessed any sort of emotional response. Her appearance told Javier that she had been through hell and the only thing he knew to say was: "It's over now, it's okay honey, it's over now." He kissed her forehead softly. "I missed you."

Wanting so badly to reach up to him (and how different it was to want something badly) but unable to do anything but feel the tears slide down her face, T'Shaini did not notice the med team until they were pulling her from him to put her on an anti grav lift. Voices, indistinct, swirled above her head.

"Suction…have them prep three units, Vulcan."

"Who sutured this? It looks like drunken embroidery."

T'Shaini's fingers crept forward searching….

He had been brushed aside by the medical team, but knowing the severity of her wounds from having seen their like before, Javier allowed himself to be pushed to the outer periphery of the small group. From where he was watching Javier saw her hand searching and he took it in his own, grasping her hand gently, his thumb rubbing the back of her hand. "I'm here."

JP by us

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 03-13-2008

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