Evolution

And here's how Harry ended up in the Gamma Quadrant…


November 5, 2381
Bucks County, PA - Earth
Scofield Memorial Medical Center

Another waking.

He’d thought himself done with those. Eyes locked down against the artificial glare, Finn felt himself inhaling (thought he’d be done with that, too) an antiseptic odor that poked annoyingly at his memory.

Hospital.

Crap.

“I know you’re awake.”

The brisk, business-like voice shot through him like ice and Harry’s eyes flew open. “Mom,” he said. Tried to say. Came out more like a croak.

Rosa Shea Finn, who’d married young and loved hard and lost her husband without ever knowing the why, watched her middle child (and what was it with middle children, anyway) wrestle with the concept of being alive. It was unclear from his expression, whether he was pleased by the prospect.

Though, given where Harry had run to, almost the moment Anna and Will had left him alone…

“You contracted pneumonia,” she told him, “by the time we found you.”

She didn’t bother to mention how he’d been burning with fever and seizing so hard that Will had been forced to lay on him to prevent further damage. Nor did she tell how Harry had been explaining to his father, his father who’d been murdered 32 years before [i]in that very spot[/i], about how he’d screwed up… failed Command and lost his team, lost his uniform, lost… everything.

Mostly, she didn’t tell him that, once the medics had arrived, they’d immediately put him into a coma to ease the symptoms of delirium tremens, at that point as deadly as the pneumonia, itself.

A small attempt at a smile ghosted across his features before offering a “Sorry?” that sounded a bit less rusty.

“I know you are,” she said, leaning close and looking at him with her sharp grey eyes… eyes that matched her hair, these days,… artist’s eyes which saw far more than most, “But are you sorry that you almost died, or that you didn’t?”

To his credit, he didn’t look away. He didn’t answer… but he didn’t look away.


November 21, 2381
New Hope, Pennsylvania - Earth
Finn Home

Will knocked on the door as he entered and was caught up short by the sight of Harry’s worn, Starfleet-issue duffle on the bed. “Going somewhere?” he asked as his younger brother, still wearing some of Will’s cast-offs, came out of the bath, his small toiletry kit in hand. He still looked… less than himself. Not Harry at all but a pale rendition of the man.

A silent, pale rendition.

Harry tossed the the kit into the duffle, then turned towards the closet, only stopping when he realized he had nothing to pack. The uniforms… well… he didn’t have them, anymore.

“Harry… what did she want?”

You’re a hard man to find,” Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev stated, taking the porch as effectively as she might the bridge of a starship.

“Not hard enough,” Harry didn’t look up from the hunk of wood he was whittling down to a matchstick. Will’s brilliant idea; get Harry doing something with his hands so he won’t think too much.

Won’t want to tear the house apart looking for alcohol was what he meant.

Right.

At least it gave him something to look at besides the admiral, whom he’d seen crossing the yard, trailed by a small posse of lackeys.

Alynna’s eyes narrowed slightly, considering the hunched figure before her. “Maybe if you’d stayed out of the hospital, you could have avoided this visit.” Ahhh, that got him. Blue eyes, filled with anger (good) flashed up at her.

“Or not,” the Admiral then turned and rendered her hovering staff speechless by joining the pariah, JAG’s greatest embarrassment, on the small swinging bench. “When I go looking for something, I generally find it.” She waited a moment, to see if that got anything.

Harry turned the wood around in his hands a moment before beginning to run the knife over a slightly less-decimated section.

“I’m planning to find Acker.”

Harry’s hand slipped, nicked his right palm.

“Acker is dead,” he said quickly, flipping the knife closed and dropping the damn stick, hoping she hadn’t noticed the accident.

With a sigh, Nechayev leaned back in the chair, “I do not believe that to be the case, Finn. In fact,” she kept her gaze carefully away from him, taking in the graying forest before them, “I have received reports from some very reliable sources which indicate that he is very much alive. Damaged, but breathing.”

That makes two of us, Harry thought.

“It’s time, past time, to take him down,” she said, adding casually, “Do you want in?”

“She said,” Harry opened the closet door and grabbed the first thing he saw, which was a battered fedora, and tossed it onto the bed, “she said I can come back, into the ‘Fleet…”

“Damn it, Harry, why? Why would you want to go back to that? You’re just out of the hospital and only barely functioning and, besides that, you’re…”

Harry watched his brother stumble over the verbal roadblock, “What? A drunk? Yeah,” he turned back to the closet… there must be something in there… “she knows. I have to clear Starfleet Medical, first… go through rehab… dry up…”

“You were doing that, here.”

Harry looked at this older brother who so resembled their father it almost hurt to see, “No,” he said quietly, “I wasn’t. I… can’t stay and not drink. Will… I almost downed a liter of maple syrup this morning because the bottle’s shape looked attractive.”

Will raised his hands in surrender, “Fine, then, we have clinics, here. You don’t have to go…”

“Of course I have to go. I can’t… this…” he gestured vaguely, “… isn’t my life. It never was.” He waited for the truth to sink in, again, as it had to every time he left home, “There’s only one life I’ve ever wanted that I was even remotely good at…”

“And it has yet to bring him back.”

Both men turned to the door, where Rosa Finn stood, her posture perfectly balanced between disappointment and resignation, Anna hovering uncertainly behind. “Nothing can… Harry…”

“You think that’s all it is?” he asked, wondering how his family, so accepting of everything else, would always look at his career as an emotional aberration, a sop to the meaningless killing of Jack Finn, so long ago.

“I always blamed that ‘Space Cop’ comic,” Anna stated, making peace as always.

“Who’s watching….” both men began simultaneously.

“… the horde? Sela and Ben,” Anna named her and Will’s spouses as she plumped down on Harry’s bed, picked up the hat and ran the brim thoughtfully through her fingers, “Harry, you should stay clear of Sela for a while. She’s kind of pissed about the war games.”

“There was minimal bloodshed,” Harry defended himself.

“Which brings us back to the current problem,” Will jumped in.

“It’s not a problem. It’s.. it’s a chance to make things right. Or, as right as they can be,” Harry had to turn away from them, then, all of them.

”No free ride. There can’t be. You’ll have to prove you can get clean and stay clean and,” the Admiral assessed the looming tower of anger who stared out at the horizon, “you’ll have start over, from the bottom.”

Which meant cadet. Forty-two year’s old and he’d be in with the newbies. If he made it through rehab and right this instant, that seemed about as likely as performing on New Broadway…

“And,” Nechayev continued, allowing just enough time for each depressing fact to sink in before she added the next stone to the drowning man’s legs, “people know, Finn. DIA and JAG, they kept it quiet but you can’t hide an explosion of that magnitude in Earth’s orbit. Between that and the Court-martial, there’s going to be some significant fallout.”

Translation, everyone will know your name and every last one of them will think it their bounden duty to make you pay.

“And what will he be doing? While I’m getting clean and sober and humble?” Harry turned to where Nechayev sat, proper and cold, the apotheosis of Spec Ops, “How will Acker be spending his time?”

“Recovering,” now she stood, joined the fallen officer “Thermolyte burns… well,” she shrugged, “You’ve seen. He’s out there, on the move, and probably suffering horribly with every breath he takes.”

“Good.”

“So you’re going after him, again,” his mother said, still at the door, “Acker?”

Harry’s eyes shot back towards her, “Ahhh…”

“You were very, chatty, while you were delirious,” Will explained.

“But I’m right? That’s why you’re going back? To hunt one man?” Rosa walked up to her son, reached up to lay a hand on his cheek, “Is it worth it? So much risk…?”

Harry took her hand in his own and held it, and her eyes, “Yes.”

Sighing, she leaned in and gave him the only thing she could, a mother’s embrace, “Well and good,” she said, as she did every time he’d shipped out, from the first, “Just make sure, when you find him, you don’t go over Reichenbach Falls.”

“Not too many waterfalls in space, Mom,”

“No, but there is a lot of space in space,” Anna added her quick embrace before heading out, “Don’t go without saying good-bye, I have.. a little something for you to take with.”

Harry narrowed his eyes, “Wait, have something? You knew?”

She tossed back a sad smile, “You never stay, Harry,” and then she was gone.

“I’m going to pack you some real food,” Rosa said, rushing after, knowing that, in his current condition, he was unlikely to eat anything but soda crackers but still…

And then there were two.

Harry looked at Will, who looked at Harry.

“So,” Will reached into his pocket and withdrew something roundish, made of wood. “I wanted you to have this, when you went… something to keep your hands busy…”

Harry stared, then looked up at Will, “That’s… Dad made that, for you… when we were kids.”

“Yeah, and now I’m giving it to [i]you[/i],” Will kept his hand out, insistently, gray eyes locked to blue. “He’d want it for you. You know he would.”

Something large and difficult rose in Harry’s throat as he accepted the gift and a husky “Thanks” was the best he could manage as he turned the yo-yo over and over in his hands.

Maybe Mom was wrong. Maybe, in a way, Dad had come back, after all.


Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev’s Office
Starfleet Command, San Francisco
Earth
March 15, 2383

Alynna Nechayev watched the frenzied pacing of the man she’d called to her office. Over a year in the re-making, Harry Finn was burning with a fury so intense that, frankly, she was resisting the urge to check her rug for scorch marks.

“Due respect, Admiral, cut the… Look, we both know why you want me out there, hobbled by a cadet rank and locked away on a starship. You want a target, a pansy, something to wave in front of the perp so maybe he’ll get careless and you’ll have enough to make some charges stick.”

Which wouldn’t be an I issue if every shred of evidence in the previous investigation hadn’t been wiped clean. By whom, when Acker had been presumed dead at the time, was one more piece of a much greater puzzle.

“Belay the attitude, Cadet,” she snapped out. While she might have some slight sympathy for the man’s situation, there was no room in her office for anything even approaching disrespect.

“Ma’am,” he froze, seething, eyes trained just over her left shoulder.

She sighed before continuing, “What you think of your assignment, should you pass the final training, is irrelevent. Starfleet has rules and you have to play by them… especially you," she considered the Finn-shaped problem before her, “If you have reservations about the assignment…”

Harry shook that off, “No. I want him taken down, hard, however it happens,” now he locked his eyes onto hers, “but I need something in return.”

“Isn’t reinstatement enough?”

“No. Not when you and I both know I have a family. More to the point,” his voice went just that much harder, “he knows I have a family and he… or his people… aren’t shy about coming in sideways at their target. They and Jenny Anderson are going to be looked at and I want you to make sure that’s as far as it goes.”

Nechayev said nothing for a moment. She just stared at him in a way that was probably taught in Admiral school, waiting for him to blink.

He didn’t.

“I can arrange something for the family,” she finally said, as unblinking in her response as he in his demand. And in fact, she’d already been thinking along those lines. Finn’s mother, along with his sibs and their families, were conveniently located on one plantation in Pennsylvania… keeping an eye on them wouldn’t be a strain on resources. “As long as they don’t start taking unscheduled off-world trips on a regular basis, it’s… feasible.”

She tapped her fingers on the desk, “Anderson is a problem. She’s not a relative…” Alynna held up a hand at the protest already forming, “I can’t assign a detail to her but,” and now she rose, crossing from behind her desk to face the man she was sending to the slaughter, “I can get her into the Academy, as my yeoman if she’s willing to go the scholarship route. She’s smart, she’s… she is her father’s daughter and I’d be honored to help advance her chosen career.” Unspoken was the ability keep Jenny virtually under Nechayev's eye the entire time she was in the Academy.

Harry hadn’t taken his eyes off his superior. Years of interrogations and sorting through all manner of distortions had turned him into a sort of human polygraph and this time, with this woman, he felt only the truth.

“I’d appreciate that. All of it,” was his careful answer.

Her eyes crinkled, possibly with amusement. “Glad to hear it. So you’re still aboard?”

A short nod, “Yes, ma’am.”

The admiral stayed as she was, looking into his eyes, “You may still get your chance at him,” she said, finally. “We don’t know where he’ll be, or who will be protecting him, now. Maybe he won’t follow through…”

“Admiral,” he interrupted, greatly daring, “you don’t need to… I know my job, here. I’m good with it.”

And really, what was there she could say to that? “Very well. As soon as you get the go-ahead from Dr. Hsu, you’ll receive your transfer to SS Megiddo. Good luck, Finn… dismissed.”

“Admiral,” Finn nodded once then left the office. He strongly suspected it was the last time he’d ever see the place.


Harry Finn - A History of Violence

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