Herald

This section of the story features the following NPCs

StephanieHall.jpg - Stephanie Hall
mattayercopy.jpg
Vail.png
GhostsandShadowsPic.png

By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end-
Methinks it is no journey.
From the ballad “Tom o’Bedlam”

Gamma Quadrant
Outside the Ah’raic System
Galactic Longitude 359°*56′*39.4″

In the expanse beyond the Ah’raic system, a lone satellite, left behind by a Federation cosmologist who was later deemed overzealous by his superiors, found itself distracted from the minutiae of collecting data on varieties of spacial dust to take note of an actual cosmological event. Eagerly, the device recorded and transmitted the sudden appearance of the proto-nebula which, though quite small at its inception, expanded rapidly enough that the satellite was soon immersed in a particulate mass and minutes after that, all communications from the solitary sentry were cut off.

Alpha Quadrant
Departing DS9

To those who served on the USS Hawking, it was just one more thing… one more trial… one more straw which, quite possibly, would serve to break the dromedary’s spine: orders. Orders to turn around and head right back from whence they came and that smack after learning that their home port of SS Megiddo… wasn’t. Wasn’t their port… wasn’t, in fact, there anymore.

So the Hawking, carting a small cadre of prisoners from an alternate reality, along with the much sought-after Kamaal Bedie, was redirected to Deep Space 9. There, they parted company with enemies, took on new hands and hoped for a short period of respite after the costly treachery inflicted on them by the IAS Hawking.

Hoped to get used to the spaces left by the dead.

But Command… and the unprecedented spontaneous birth of a nebula without the usual supernova tango… required immediate attention. After the still-unexplained incident at what had once been Megiddo Colony and the unfortunate results of the Orb-created rift in space which the Hawking herself had been party to, the Federation and many Gamma quadrant residents were understandably concerned at the thought of yet more mysterious phenomena popping up like interstellar mushrooms.

So that was it. ‘Hi, nice to see you. Sorry about your losses… they’ll all get posthumous commendations but here are the coordinates, the wormhole’s open and waiting and that nebula’s not getting any smaller, now is it? Time to suck it up and move on.’

Which, in a way, made this just another day in Starfleet for the Hawking’s crew.

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Harry Finn


Emily sighed as she walked about on shift. The PADD in her hand felt heavier than usual, either that or it was the weight of emotions running through the ship. It had been a difficult time, then again any scenario involving death was hard to ignore.

One by one she checked off sections of the ship for her rounds. Security had been toned down as they were now off on new orders but routine checks had been stepped up, areas of the ship normally left were being constantly run through. With the IAS gone there was little chance of anyone still being onboard, well anyone unaccounted for. After the fighting was over they still managed to find a few trying to catch a free ride.

Emily stopped walking. Her feet froze in place as she cocked her head to the door on her left. Sickbay. A cold chill ran down her spine and she sympathised with the people inside. Loosing someone like Jillian was hard. Emily barely knew her but it was impossible to not know of her. She was a woman praised and adored. Emily wished she could feel the loss but she could only add her sympathy.

She quickly moved on.

She didn't wish to dwell on such moments.

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Emily Star


Cadet Hudson was not fond of his given name.

It was an archaic human name that had not been common in any century of earth's history, and predominantly unpopular no matter the era. It held no bearing to any of his human predecessors, no personal meaning to his human father, and had no ties whatsoever to his Bajoran heritage. Like the man himself, it had stood out throughout his early years, and continued to be an unwanted conversational starter at each point that he corrected it.

"Matt!" "I beg your pardon?" "I prefer Matt, not Matthias."

He figured it should only take a few more weeks for everyone to get the gist.

"Actually… the probability that over 150 crewman from several different departments would remember the personal preferences of one Operations cadet within a three week time period-" Serok stopped mid-sentence. He leaned back and looked away from the console that Matt was working at, compiling mock calculations to pass the time. Raising an eyebrow he clarified. "Curious. Were you not assigned to a level 1 diagnostic, Cadet?"

Matt quickly closed the screen, flushing slightly. "The diagnostic will run for another hour, the engineering team will follow it up with a visual diagnostic at its completetion, which inturn leaves me here, as you see, pondering hidden mysteries that confound scientists even today."

The Vulcan frowned at Matt's overly enthusiastic grin, unsure to the degree of sincerity in his expression. He was after all half human.

"Chief Petty Officer Corin requires assistance, maybe your 'enthusiasm' could be of use to her?"

Matt nodded with a mock salute. "Aye sir."

He pushed off from his seat and resolutly marched towards the acting Boatswain. "Reporting for duty, Ma'am." He began, enjoying the delicate blush that crossed her features.

"Ahh, yes- err, Cadet… Hudson."

Matt smiled. She was cute as a button and no one could fault her at her job, but it was obvious that social skills was not her area of expertise. She blushed constantly when she got nervous, had trouble looking others in the eye and always talked about work. Despite this flaw, even Matt had to admit her skill with handling the Hawking's cranky Boatswain was a cut above the rest. Cam Atwood was a bugger of a man to work with, all sources said as much. Even now, confined to resting from his injuries, he still managed to rull the Operations personnel with an iron fist.

Matt had only just been assigned the USS Hawking, having come aboard from Deep Space Nine, after his final training mission aboard the USS Knight. At the age of 29, he wasn't as young and as spry as the other cadets, and certainly not as enthusiastic… but that last mission had at least been far from dull. Nothing like keeping the cadets interested like a mutiny. He thought with a chuckle. The transfer to the Hawking had been far from exciting, his fellow cadet, Simba Wekesa had been assigned to the Hawking as well, but once on board, he hadn't expected the reception to be so… reserved.

"…and the relays have been replaced, but the calibration over on deck eight has been taking slower than expected."

Matt blinked, having missed most of Chief Corin's explanation as they moved towards the turbolift.

"Ale- I mean Ensign Gorsky is heading up the diagnostic in science."

Matt watched in fascination as Indi Corin blushed once more.

The atmosphere on the Hawking might be 'off' as far as Matt could tell, but at least it would never be boring he surmised. As they stepped into the turbolift, Matt wondered how Wekesa was finding his first day on the job.

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Matt Hudson


USS Hawking

For a while it had been uncertain if the man was going to come back at all. There had been significant damage to the cranial nerve nuclei and cerebellum, which Dr. Ayre had had to deal with before the rest of the quite patently disturbing trauma could even be looked at. And then there had been some unknown chemicals in the patient’s system which, unable to neutralize, the doctor had finally ordered flushed out with hemodialysis but even then it was as if there were some… thing… some unseen hand holding him under…

He’d been out for two days and Bramley was on duty again when Harry Finn’s eyes finally opened. Sickbay was mostly cleared out, by now… Kowalski was still on bed rest but the other casualties had been released to their quarters… or the brig… or…

“Harry?” Joe moved to follow the XO who had just swung himself off the bed and started moving. “Lieutenant… shit,” now the nurse wished that he hadn’t sent Kerrin off to sleep but, damn, the woman had been beyond exhausted, watching at Finn’s bedside… “Harry… don’t go in there…”

But it was too late. In a room of death he now stood… having come to waking as the smothering… presence… finally fell away, hissing and gibbering at him, as it had in the temple when it first struck, ”This is all your fault… your doing… you own this failure…” and waking, he’d prayed that it had all been a dream - a hallucination of the sort Wendy had experienced on Girijan… only to find that, no… not a dream. Not a nightmare, even, but cold, hard reality, staring him in the face with empty eyes…

“Ahh, Harry,” Bramley’s voice, filled with its own pain, tried to pull him away from the image of…

Jillian… Small and pale and bearing the marks of a violent passing… he didn’t need to place his hands over the livid bruises to know they’d be of a size because, of course, his hands had done the deed. And, through some morbid symmetry, there he lay in stasis, right next to her… eyes closed but that didn’t really soften the blow of seeing yourself with a gaping hole where your gut ought to be.

“Come on, sir… you shouldn’t… this isn’t… Harry,” Joe placed a hand on the rigid shoulder, “Lieu…”

“…tenant.”

“Yes. Fine. What?” Finn snapped out of the memory and looked up from the report on the IAS incursion he’d been theoretically reading… this one from Tenanji… recording the curious matter of Crewman Dramm Pal, who’d survived the attack with no more than a concussion while his partner, Burgess, had suffered a broken neck at the hands of the other Finn… to see the unendingly patient expression of his new… and unreplaceable… yeoman. “I’m listening.”

“Sir,” Chief Warrant Officer Maddie Rayne quirked the slightest of smiles, “these reports need to be signed off on before I can transmit them to command. Perhaps the Captain…”

“He has other obligations,” Harry inserted calmly, grabbing another swig of cold coffee, “and I will sign off on these reports a lot faster if I can chew them over in privacy.”

“Understood,” Maddie placidly removed the cup from his hand and took it to the replicator for recycling. Once it had been disposed of she ordered a fresh cup and brought it back to the bemused Finn, “And how many readings do you reckon it’ll take before you’ve digested the material?”

“Three is usually my max,” he told her dryly. “Meantime, I’m almost sure there were some scheduling issues in Astrometrics that an… experienced… hand like yourself should be able to resolve in no time…”

Rayne accepted the deflection in good humor. She was a very easygoing sort, he’d noticed.

“Very well, sir… but while I wrestle with the geeks, I do hope you’ll…”

“Get the reports signed off,” he held the woman’s eyes for a moment, “no worries. ” The door behind her swished open to reveal Lt. Commander Callan Vail, causing Harry to rise and Maddie to go rather still. “That’ll be all, Rayne,” then, as she hesitated, “That means dismissed. As in, see ya later… buh bye… don’t let the door…”

“Hit me on the way out, yes Lieutenant. Sir,” she greeted Vail quietly in passing.

“Chief,” Callan offered a polite nod and waited for the door to close behind her before turning to Harry. “There are some things we need to discuss,” he began without preamble.

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Harry Finn


"Deck eight, section fourteen, number 815," Simba muttered to himself as he progressed along the corridor, lugging his bags and reading the identification signs on each door he passed. "809… 811… 813… ah, here we are." He stopped at the door and, dropping his duffle bag to the floor, pressed his thumb against the keypad. The panel chirped affirmatively, evidently having already been set to recognize him, and the doors slid open with a familiar hiss.

The cadets' quarters were sparse, decorated in the usual impersonal Starfleet style, but comfortable enough for the amount of time he would probably spend there. The room was mirrored down the middle; there were two bunks, in opposite corners, two desks, two dressers and, in the middle of the room, a replicator and a small table with two chairs. No man's land, Simba thought with a grin as he looked at the island of shared furniture dividing the symmetrical living space.

Matt wasn't there, but his bags were piled up on the left bunk, so Simba figured he must have already been there and gone on duty. The cadets had been separated for briefings as soon as they had come aboard, although Simba hadn't yet met any of the Hawking's engineering staff. Either way, he was glad to have been assigned to the same ship as Cadet Hudson, the one friend he had in the Gamma Quadrant.

"I guess I get this bed," Simba said aloud as he walked to the unclaimed bunk and tossed his bags onto the floor next to it. He sat down on the bed. It was hard… standard Starfleet issue mattress. Starfleet issue. Simba chuckled to himself as he considered it. He had spent his whole life working for this moment, for the chance to serve aboard a starship, leaving his home and his family as soon as he was old enough and never looking back. Simba Wekesa was an interesting paradox. On the outside, he was friendly, outgoing, and laid-back, dedicated to his work but comfortable kicking back and having fun too. Inside, still bitter about the first seventeen years of his life that he had worked hard to forget.

"Computer, what time is it?" he called out as he brought his thoughts back to the present.

=/\= "The time is 11:43 hours." =/\=

Sixteen minutes. Better get to engineering… always good to show up early for your first shift, Simba. He stood up from the bed and glanced in the mirror on his way to the door, just to make sure his uniform was still straight and neat after a long morning of shuttling around stations and starships. He grinned at the sight of himself in a Starfleet uniform, it was something he never got tired of seeing. Whistling cheerfully, Cadet Wekesa left his quarters and headed off towards engineering to report in to Lt. Costala.

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Simba Wekesa


No Harry….Jenny is asleep…Nils is on duty… But was the lack of availability coincidence or was it more? Was she now too close, too personally involved with some of the crew of the Hawking to be of any use? Perhaps I should consider asking Leo to take over… That thought, however practical it may have been, left a sour taste in her mouth. After all, there were many things that were going as they should, the children were proving to be remarkably resiliant, Edded Baya…even with all the hormonal changes of pregnancy was progressing well, and well nothing could possibly keep Kal-El down for long. Stepping into her office T'Shaini was once again struck with the brightness of her yeoman's smile. His drawing an echoing, if somewhat wan, one from her, the counselor seated herself for his effusive update, and was surprised by the young man softening slightly and seating himself next to her.

"No luck?"

"None." He knew her schedule better than she did, of course David knew what she had been attempting. "I wonder if I am the best one for this job, at this time."

"Nah!" He emphasised his opinion with a shove that nearly knocked the counselor from her seat. "They are yours, they will always be yours, they just need some time."

Regaining her posture and carefully positioning a pillow to block his next attempt at reassurance, T'Shaini shrugged. "Perhaps…but perhaps they would not need as much time if there were someone they had not been in such close proximity with…whose actions, good and bad, they had witnessed…whose judgments, when flawed, had affected their own lives." She folded her hands in her lap and stared at the intertwined fingers. "Or perhaps I have strayed so far away from my original purpose on this ship with each new mission that I no longer retain the skill to aid when I am most needed."

There was something in her voice when she let loose that last pronouncement that dulled even the ebulliance of David Tattershall. He stood, and with a reassuring pat (as if she were a small dog) he handed her a padd. "I am sure it is just a temporary thing…and well, this afternoon is full, so no matter what it is we need to get going."

With a solemn nod the counselor stood and straightened out the already over neat area, Ahh David will never understand the concept of 'comfortably ruffled'. and signaled him to begin the next session.

"Oh my GAWD! Wait til I tell you what Kal El said NOW!" Darby was already speaking before the door closed behind her….so much for client confidentiality.

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by T'Shaini


USS Hawking
Deck 5

She winced as she roughly rubbed her temple, to soothe the pain developing in her head. After joining both of her hands, she rested her forehead on the cool surface of Munro’s desk. The woman was dead, killed by a member of the IAS, and things in Sickbay had changed dramatically. As part of the medical personnel, death was something that potentially came with the career, but when it struck close to home, it wasn’t as easy to put away, to chalk up to hazards of the job.

Tatiana closed her eyes willing sleep to overcome her, as she fell into seconds of unconsciousness, she was suddenly shook out of it with the feeling of her hair moving, and fingers on her scalp. She jumped in surprise, and opened her eyes to see Stephanie Hall standing next to her. “Hey,” she said tiredly. “What’s up?”

“I haven’t seen you in a while,” the red-head said and shrugged. “I’m just here to catch up.” The woman studied her friend quietly, “You look like death warmed over, what’s wrong?”

Tatiana nodded in agreement, “I feel like it, and there’s nothing wrong, I’m just tired. There were a lot of wounded during the attack that needed treatment, I haven’t had much time to sleep.”

Stephanie eyed Tatiana suspiciously, “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Okay then,” she commented letting the subject die and glanced around the office. “What are you doing here?”

Tatiana frowned; Stephanie’s visit was beginning to seem more like she was checking up on her, rather than looking to spend time with a friend. “I had to look through the patient files for one of the Science Officers, her office has them so I came here,” she answered and with a sweep of her arm, motioned to the rest of the office, “Since she died, people have been avoiding this office like the plague, but she’s dead and as much as we all hate it, it’s permanent, it has to be accepted so we can move on. We’re no good to our patients if this continues to hang over us.”

“Yeah…” Stephanie agreed absently. “Come on, let’s head back to Sickbay. You’ll drop your files off, and then we’ll hang."

“Sure. You were playing with my hair to wake me up,” she recalled and stretched. “That’s creepy, even for you.” The doctor stood, and joined her friend on the other side of the desk.

“It’s my favorite part of you,” Stephanie responded and leered at the doctor. Tatiana snorted softly, and a small smile danced across her face, “If I wasn’t scared it would ruin our friendship…”

Hall laughed, and nudged the woman next to her when she had fallen silent again. Tatiana had lost the smile that had come earlier, and instead stared down at her boots. “Is it wrong that I’m worried about what will happen to her?” she asked quietly. It was something that had bothered her since departing from DS9.

The sensor technician was confused for a moment before catching on to the woman that Tatiana was referring to. “No,” she answered after a long pause. “I’d be worried if you weren’t.”

A post featuring NPC Stephanie Hall
Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Tatiana Thorne


::USS HAWKING::
::Transporter Room::

"You're suprised!" The man standing beside Doctor Ayre threw back his head with a loud 'Ha!', "And the beauty of that is, you thinking that, doesn't surprise me one bit. I parted the red sea for you, Ayre. Don't go pissing on the sand!"

"Pffft…which dream did you just wake up from," Matt stepped forward and gave the man an aggressive hug with a solid man-pat on the back, "I just figured between the two of us, I would make Chief before you."

"Charm and boyish good looks will only get you so far, Matt. The rest is skill."

Matt raised his hands in mock surrender, "I am not ashamed to say it…from now on, you're the boss. It doesn't matter what I think."

"It does matter what you think. What are you talking about, you're part of the team baby, come on. I mean I gotta know what you think so I can get you to think what I think."

Matt chuckled while ushering the man out of the transporter room, "Some things never change."

"Not when they don't need to. So…" the man swung his duffle-bag on to the other shoulder, "Any chance we can swing by sickbay before I check in to my quarters."

Matt nodded, "Absolutely. In fact, I predicated you'd ask that. Plus…" Matt paused, an instant change in his tone, " Your room won't be ready for a few more hours. Doctor Munro's belongings are still being packed up."

The man stopped and smacked himself in the forehead, "Aw, hell, Matt. I'm sorry. I didn't even…" He looked down and shook his head, "I can really be a prick…I'm sorry to hear about your CMO. I heard she was…"

Matt smiled, "…she was." He continued to walked towards sickbay and motioned for the newcomer to follow, "You have some big shoes to fill, but knowing you…you'll have no problem. Now let's get a move-on, I've got Thorne, Hodges, Stryfe and Lewis ready to meet their new CMO."

"Whhooooo! Hodges! I can't wait to put the fear of god into that little Bajoran. He's more of a neurotic doctor than you are."

Matt chuckled gleefully at the recollection, "Yeah. I'm sure he'll be tickled pink to see you again."

Featuring NPC Matt Ayre
Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Ender Seldon


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Bridge ::

“I’ll be in my quarters,” Nils said rising from the center seat. With the end of his shift came the end of his brooding silence. Before he could take a step, however, the Chief of Science spoke up.

“Captain, we’re only a few minutes from visual range,” O’Keefe chided sternly. “The nebula is expanding at an alarming rate and I thought you’d want to… I mean it could be a very rare discovery.”

“Yes,” Nils answered absently. “It could be rare.” He sat back down and folded his hands in his lap. At first unaware of the stares from every corner of the bridge, he leaned back and rested his head on his seat’s headrest. The eyes boring into him did eventually draw his attention. “And… And what are the preliminary readings,” he added. Everyone knew their duty and he felt his goading was only ceremonial, but somehow they seemed to want his push.

“Initial scans indicate the perimeter has expanded by one hundred and eighty percent since we lost contact with our long range satellite,” The Chief of Science intoned almost excitedly. “That’s in addition to the seventy eight percent growth the satellite observed before going offline.”

“That is uncommon,” the CO replied easily. He knew it should spark his interest…but it didn’t. “Sensor reading anything else unusual?”

“The nebula registers as a Class one proto-nebula complete with plasma surges and uncommon amounts of protomatter throughout.” After punching a few more commands into her console she added, “We’re within visual range, sir.”

“Well then,” the melancholy Bajoran said with an almost sarcastic flourish, “Put it on screen.”

“Aye, sir.”

Protonebulaonscreen.jpg

“Wow,” Hawking’s Captain said, though his tone didn’t match his exclamation. “It’s pretty,” he added sincerely. Time slowed as he allowed himself to be drawn in by the cosmic beauty the nebula embodied. A smile touched the corner of his mouth and he let himself enjoy the view. “What if we…” For a moment he was lost. “What if we turned off our sensors and we just looked at it? The first explorers did that, you know… They didn’t take scans or pick apart atomic structures. The first explorers just…beheld. And after beholding they found themselves better for it.” He shook himself from his wonder and remembered where he was. Funny how everything reminded him of Jillian.

Not funny at all…

“Captain?” Lt. O’Keefe sounded genuinely concerned.

“Helm, take us in,” Nils said, ignoring the science officer. “Maintain distance at seven hundred and fifty thousand kilometers.” Turning again to Jada he added, “Fire up the sensor pallets and let’s take scans and pick apart its atomic structure.” One more time Nils rose and made for the turbolift. “If there’s anything interesting I’ll be in my… Actually just file a report. I’ll get it when we…”

“I’m reading a ship in there,” Tenanji said from his station suddenly.

“What?” The CO paused and moved into tactical.

“It’s a single passenger auxiliary craft coasting the galactic northern edge of that nebula,” Usher added as he honed his own scans.

“Confirmed,” Jada added from science. “It looks like it’s caught in a gravitational current at variance with the primary flow of the nebula. Whoever they are they’re getting knocked around real good in there.”

“Ah damn,” Nils said through a sigh, then he returned to his chair. “Are they in trouble? Real trouble?”

“I think so,” Jada said seriously.

“I’m reading discrepancies in their ship board systems as well, sir,” Tenanji added. “I think they are losing control.”

“Can we get close enough to them without getting pulled into that eddy ourselves,” Nils asked, his eyes trained on the screen.

“There is a significant amount of graviton fluctuation, but we should be able to navigate safely,” Jada said, then added a quick, “I think.” She shot a look at Stryfe who’d been manning the helm.

Vince smiled and said, “Oh yeah… I got this.”

“Graviton fluctuation,” Nils echoed, finally engaging his mind in the present puzzle. “Tractor beam should be pretty useless then, huh?” He didn’t wait for an answer before firing off a few orders in rapid succession. “Get us into transporter range. Jezera get ready to beam them aboard. Have a security team get to transporter room one.” Nils stood and moved again to the turbolift finally able to exit. “I’ll be there shortly. And somebody… Find Finn and tell him what’s going on.”

Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Torrik Nils


~Approximately two hours prior to Hawking's arrival at the nebula~

USS Hawking
XO’s Office

“There are some things we need to discuss.”

Harry looked at Lt. Commander Vail for a moment, considering the plethora of topics which might apply to the Intelligence officer’s statement. “Okay,” he said, coming around the desk, “can we start with the watchdog your people have put on me?”

Vail’s expression didn’t alter, “CPO Rayne is, as I’m sure you’ve noted, very good at her job,” he replied, “and you know as well as I that an officer left in enemy hands for as long as you were… who underwent the levels of mental invasion, interrogation and…” here his voice fell off, as no one quite knew how to describe what Torrik Nils… the High Priest of the Pah Wraith, had done to Finn.

“Yeah… and…” Harry did understand, sort of. “I don’t recall this sort of thing happening to Picard,” he added, softly.

“Perhaps because the Borg were more straightforward… either you have nanoprobes active in your system or you don’t.” Vail shifted, slightly, “Be that as it may, I’m not here to discuss Chief Rayne’s disposition, nor to prod you further about what happened on the IAS…”

“What… the whole eating bug poo didn’t merit another go ‘round?” Not like there hadn’t been numerous debrief’s already.

Callan ignored the acid of Harry’s wit and moved to the couch. Seating himself he leaned forward, holding out the PADD he’d brought along. “There’s some more intelligence from Kendrassa Prime you should see.”

At that, Harry felt the universe come to a brief halt… a hiccup in the entropic progression of time. “I heard the Federation got the boot,” he said calmly, though there was a coldness in his middle, thinking of the speculations as to why the Federation had gotten said boot. “The entire staff was shifted to Megiddo… I mean, where Megiddo used to be.”

Callan nodded towards the PADD and Harry took it. “I think you might find the new… power structure… on Kendrassa to be of interest.”

Scanning the data, most of the names meant little to him, but for one… “Szado?” He tapped the command to expand the named file. The image which then flashed to life on the small screen sent a visceral shot to his pain and pleasure centers and, for a moment, Harry was back on the Outpost, facing the literally unearthly beauty of the woman who, it appeared, had a name, after all. “This is her,” he said, his voice creaking a bit under the weight of memory. He looked up to see the frighteningly understanding expression on the El-Aurian’s face, “This is the woman from the cell, the one who set up my escape…” the one who'd gone on a walking tour through his mind… the first of many to take that little trip, as it happened.

“You said you didn’t know what she wanted.”

“I guess I do, now.” Harry glanced at the title below her image, Cygnian Amabassador to Kendrassa Prime and below that, the Intelligence department’s added assessment of her status as the head of operations for the criminal conglomerate known most lately as The Organization. Giving in to a bone sapping weariness with it all, he dropped into one of the chairs and raised his eyes to Vail, “I stand by my actions on Kendrassa,” and that was no less than truth, “and I’ll answer for them…”

“There’s been no call for you to fall on your sword, just yet,” Vail interrupted, “At the moment, your name is little more than a rumor… one of dozens which began to fly just after Stearns’ death.”

“But she knows…”

“Exactly… she knows… and she’s gone out of her way to keep your name out of the mix.” The Intelligence officer shook his head, “It may be her way of repaying a favor…”

“And that makes it all so much better.” The Hawking’s XO turned the PADD over and over in his hands, “So… now what?”

“For now,” Vail watched the Human fiddling with the tech, “for now, I don’t know that there’s anything to be done. No one outside certain circles knows anything of what happened on the Outpost. For what it’s worth, you did put an end to a serious threat to the Federation, among other things.” He considered the other man a moment, “Harry,” he added gently, “you knew, from the moment you went after Stearns, it was never going to be easy. Not even succeeding would make it an easy thing.”

"No," Harry admitted to himself, "it wasn't going to be… easy." But he’d also, quite foolishly, thought that nothing else would ever be as hard. And then Torrik and Munro and even T’Shaini… all warped images of the ones he knew… had proven just how wrong a man could be.

Featuring NPC Callan Vail
Originally Posted 12/1/08 by Harry Finn


-Between DS9 and the Nebula-
-Main Engineering-

Two ranks of engineers stood facing each other with five feet of space inbetween the ranks. The engineers stood at parade rest some looking straight ahead, others, the more curious or new crew additions gazed toward the Chief Engineer out of the corner of their eyes. Lieutenant Javier Costala stood at the head of the two ranks, waiting, thinking, remembering the words he had chosen for the impromptu ceremony. The crew wore their duty uniforms because some would return to their shift as soon as the event came to an end.

The noncommissioned officers stood in the rank to Javier's left, beginning with the most senior nco and working the way down to the green Crewman recruits. On his right, the officers stood, from Lt. Yeoh to the lowest ranking cadet.

"There was no time for funeral services when the ship put into Deep Space 9," Javier began, "so we did not have the chance to say goodbye to our fallen comrades." He stopped and let the information sink in to the new crewmember's thoughts. "But we always remember our own," Javier assured the engineers of the Hawking.

"The engineers we are here to remember today are Petty Officer Bilara Wakeel and Crewman Benjamin Hyde Pierce, both who gave their lives while doing their duty." The Chief Engineer stared across the engine room at the members of his department. "Both were talented engineers and extraordinary people, they were taken before their time, but as we remember them and remember what they brought to our department; we know they live on in our hearts and in our deeds. They will not be forgotten."

Mustapha waited until Javier inclined his head in the Senior Chief's direction. "Atten..shun!" the SCPO called out and with one flawless movement both of the ranks of engineers came to attention. Javier stood at attention with the others. "Present!" Mustapha ordered and the engineers, in unison, saluted. The Chief Engineer waited a full three seconds then saluted the memories and actions of two fine engineers. As he dropped his hand to his side so did the others. "Dismissed." SCPO Ibrahim echoed.

The engineers broke away and Javier returned to office where he had been writing a log to Bilara Wakeel's family. "The new officers and cadets will be wondering what type of ship this is," Mustapha intoned as he followed Javier to the office doors.

"At least they'll know they can look forward to a nice speech on their way out," Javier replied bitterly. Mustapha stared at Javier with concern written in his large brown eyes. "You think they died in vain?"

"No I don't, I just think..," Javier started, "I wonder if it's worth the cost. I get it. People die. I get that. But the reason behind their deaths..was there a reason for Wakeel's death? I'm writing a letter to her parents and I don't know what to write." The Chief Engineer exhaled a frustrated sigh. "I'm sorry for your loss, your daughter was in the wrong place at the wrong time, just doesn't seem to work although it's the truth. I don't know Mustapha, something has to change. It has to."

Originally Posted 12/2/08 by Javier Costala


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

Ender Seldon took his seat at the head of the conference table and was just about to begin his formal introduction when he felt a nervous tickle in his throat. Welcoming the excuse to delay, he reached for the pitcher of water in the center of the table and poured himself a glass. After a long swig, he cleared his throat and spoke to this team for the first time, "Doctors, my name is Ender Seldon and I have been asked to serve the Hawking as Chief Medical Officer." He paused to take in their reactions. No smiles. No nods. Nothing. "Believe me when I say it is a tremendous honor to be here. Hawking is a stellar crew with a reputation known throughout the Federation." He looked over at Doctor Ayre who only nodded him on for encouragement, "I would also like to extend my deepest condolences…losing a crewmate is never easy and they can never be replaced. I've been told that Munro had some big shoes to fill," he smiled softly, "…but if I can be honest with you all, I don't plan on trying them on. As much as I respect Doctor Munro, I feel it's important that I stick to what I know and the processes that have worked for me in the past. I look forward to working with all of you and if you have any questions, now is the time to ask."

Tatiana glanced across the table at Usha, who had not spoken since they'd entered the room. Words had failed the group. She, herself, didn't know what to say, what to feel, how to address the situation other than accepting it, and moving on. She didn't know this man, who he was, how he led, and it was that thought that caused her to timidly raise two fingers in the air, "Umm," she began and scratched her forehead nervously, "I was wondering how you viewed Sickbay." She shook her head and clarified, "How do you personally run a Sickbay? Are there things you are a stickler about that other CMOs aren't?"

Ender leaned back in his chair and stretched. He looked out the window at black space while he collected his thoughts, then turned his attention back to Tatiana. Life's transitions always come at the worst possible time, whether he wanted to admit it or not, he was replacing Munro and there was no easy way to do it, "Let me answer your first question, Tatiana. I'm not gunna paint a nice cheery picture for you guys on how I view sickbay. It is what it is; a bay for the sick. It's the most undesirable damn place to be on the ship and it's a bloody gauntlet in time of battle. I'd rather focus on keeping people out of sickbay than waiting for them to come crawling to us. I expect every member of the crew to report for physicals and I won't hesitate to file a formal report if they are a no-show. Needless to say, I take sickbay very seriously." He stood up and crossed over to the window where he rested one hand on the frame, "How I run sickbay and what I expect from my doctor's is another thing. I find the adage, 'experience comes from doing many things and wisdom comes from doing many things badly' applicable to our profession. Let me offer you this, not from the perspective of a perfect CMO, but from one who has learned his lessons in harm's way…."

He took another sip from his cup and sat back down, "First off, don't ever lie to me. Your personality may get you on my good side, but only your integrity will keep you there. I don't care if the message is not the most pleasant. Say what you mean and do what you say, it will serve you well. Second, don't go to a gun fight with a knife. What I mean by this is, while I may think I am right 99% of the time, there is still that 1% chance I'm wrong. If you disagree with a decision I've made, come to me armed with facts and solutions - don't waste my time without proof, because I guarantee you my stubbornness outweighs my trust in 'your gut'. That being said, I believe strongly in speeding tickets, not parking tickets…take chances. Just because I have little faith in your gut doesn't mean you should!

Lastly, as your new CMO, I promise to be principled, but not inflexible." He leaned forward in his chair, "I like to think of myself as a life-long learner and I am fully aware that the skills that have made me a successful doctor may not be enough to make me a successful CMO on this ship, in fact, some may even impede my development. However, you can be certain that my primary goals are patient satisfaction and physician satisfaction. Anything less is unacceptable. Anything more means I might make it on this ship after all." He paused before turning his attention back to Thorne, "I hope that answer's your question?"

Tatiana watched him quietly, still taking in the passionate and epically long speech. Her eyebrow shot up in the area of his spiel that she took an interest in. The man seemed extremely serious about his work, but what she really enjoyed was that he took the subject of patient care just as seriously as she did. She was impressed. Thorne leaned back in her chair and nodded. "It does, thanks," she answered finally. "That's all I wanted to know."

Doctor Seldon watched as his new team got up from their seats and filed out of the conference room. Only one remained.

"Let me guess. You think the meeting went well but there may have been some discomfort." Seldon stated. "Too much too soon?"

Ayre smirked, "Hemorrhoids cause discomfort, Ender. That was more like open heart surgery."

"Hey - I tried to keep it light. It's not my fault Doctor Legs had to get all 'tough questions' on me."

"Nice, Ender. Real nice."

JP with Tatiana Thorne
Originally Posted 12/2/08 by Ender Seldon


-XO's Office-

Javier paused outside the door to Harry Finn's office. He drew in a breath and exhaled it slowly. The engineer almost felt like he was there to apologize, to make amends for being wrong about himself and his job. I filed the resignation, so I need to ask for its return, Javier decided as he stepped forward towards the door.

"Excuse me, what is your business here?" a woman's voice asked.

The engineer turned to find a noncom looking at him inquiringly. "I'd like to see Harr..the XO," Javier answered.

"Do you have an appointment?"

"Sir."

"Excuse me?" the woman asked in confusion.

"You're supposed to say: 'Do you have an appointment Sir?'" Javier pointed out. He didn't usually make a point of reminding the crew about protocol but the woman was mildly annoying. "Or 'do you have an appointment Lieutenant?' would work equally well. To which I would reply: 'No I don't Chief, but I am here to see a friend and I don't think I need one." The Chief Engineer wondered who the woman was and why she was worried about him speaking with Harry. "If there's something you need I'm sure Crewman Jenny Anderson can help you," Javier stated before stepping inside the office.

"Got time for a visitor?" he asked Harry.

The sudden appearance of Javier, followed by the tenacious Rayne brought Harry to his feet, almost spilling the latest cup of coffee as he stepped around the desk, prepared to step between his watchdog and his friend.

"Sir, this… the Lieutenant… wanted to see you. And seems unaware that Anderson's been replaced…"

The XO threw an apologetic glance to Costala, "Right, fine… I'll be sure to get a shipwide memo out on the changeover but for now," he tossed a PADD at the woman who, to her credit, caught the flying tech without a flinch, "here are all the backlogged reports, read, signed, sealed and ready for transmission and filing. Have a party. In fact, have a party and a vacation… sorry… but seriously, shift's up. Once those are sent, you're off the clock." He knew that, in some ways, Rayne would never be off the clock but at least she could be out of sight for a few hours.

"Sirs," with small nod, Maddie left the room.

"Sorry about that," Harry leaned back on his desk, thinking that Rayne's brashness wasn't all he was sorry for. "It's been a while," he added, a bit uncertainly, "how are… things?"

"Things are fine," Javier said with a shrug of his shoulders, "as well as can be expected I guess. Another mission done, another tragedy averted, some more crew going home in.." The engineer caught himself before he finished the sentence with 'body-bags'. "Things are fine." he repeated then looked across the space that separated the two men. "How are you? Everything healed up?"

"Yeah, it's… everything's… look, I'm glad you came by," Harry shoved himself off the desk but remained where he was, "I wanted to thank you… for getting Ni… for getting us out of there. It was above and beyond. I know it couldn't have been easy but you did it…"

"It would have been easier if I didn't have to carry your ass out of there," Javier replied, cracking a smile. "But I made a promise to you a long time ago on Halcyon and I wasn't about to break it." The engineer thrust his hand out to Harry, holding it open.

Harry found himself staring at the hand… open friendship, accepting and so close… but, "You might not want to take my hand just yet." he said, finally. "I didn't want to just thank you. I… I owe you an apology." Finally he gave in and, habit and jitters getting the best of him, Harry started to roam the office, "I made a bad choice… back in Girijan. I don't know if T'Shaini's report included this… the native in the caverns… T'chiva. I… I had the chance to take him out… to kill him. I didn't." Now he stopped moving, long enough to catch Costala's eye. "I didn't kill him so you had to. I left a mess for another man to clean up… and beyond that, I allowed him to push me into that rift. If I'd just done the job…"

"Who said part of the job is killing someone?" Javier let his hand drop to his side. His thoughts returned to the life or death struggle with the Devanagari warrior inside the dark cavern. "I wish there had been another way, but I lost my phaser when he attacked. If I'd had the option of sparing his life, I would have taken it."

"I know… I… don't, you're right. It's not part of the job, it's not." But then, if he had followed through, if he had made the kill… he wouldn't have gone through to the other universe, his double wouldn't have come through to this side and so many more would still be alive. "You're right," was all he said, pulling up something close to a smile, "Anyway, I owe you one… or three or four, by now."

"I'll call it even if you give me a hug," the engineer said as he held out his arms as if waiting to receive the XO. Head down, his fingers moved slowly, beckoning to Harry.

"Don't make me call Rayne back in here," Finn stepped back a pace, holding up his own hands in surrender… and a bit of panic.

"Okay, I guess I'll let you off the hook," Javier said, feigning disappointment. The engineer's features became serious again. "Since you owe me three or four, maybe you could give me back my letter of resignation and then we can call it even."

"Res… OH, shit, yeah… that… that is…." Harry dove back to the desk and started shoveling through the previously pristine stacks of PADDs and isolinear chips, "Truth is, when I first saw the thing I was gonna just delete it but," he grabbed one PADD, checked the contents, dropped it on the floor, "then Jenny suggested you might want to keep it, you know," he looked up briefly at the other man, "to remind yourself to not be a dipshit - her words." Back to the search there was some random muttering about OCD yeomen and where they could shove their… "Got it!" Finn really did smile, now. "There's a response at the bottom," he crossed back to Javier and handed him the PADD, "but some of it came from Jen so, you know, I wouldn't recommend letting Lia see it…"

Javier took the PADD and glanced at what was written at the bottom of his letter. "Well, she has a way with words our Jenny," the engineer admitted. "Some of these more colorful phrases sound familiar, I think she's been spending too much time with the engineers." He tapped the side of the PADD thoughtfully then said, "Harry, the engineer..Pierce, he and Jenny were close and she took his death hard. Your counterpart was here when I informed her of Pierce's death..I don't know what he said to her. You may want to talk to her."

And it all came crashing back… his counterpart. The other, dead, Harry who'd almost poisoned Jenny… who had killed… "I'll try," he said quietly. "From what I've heard, Pierce was a good man, I'm… I'll try."

The Chief Engineer nodded and took his leave but paused at the doorway. "I only met his counterpart for all of ten minutes but Seth Anderson must have been one hell of a guy," Javier stated, "If he was anything like his counterpart I think he'd be proud of Jenny. It would mean a lot to her if you reminded her of that."

JP of When Harry met Javi.
Originally Posted 12/2/08 by Javier Costala


"Look where you're putting that thing, you great goon!" The man spluttered with disgust. "I might not have no fancy medical degree such as yourself, but even a mongoose on Tervestian Dust would no better than that!"

The doctor smiled patiently at Cam Atwood. She hadn't a lot to do with the cantankerous Boatswain who found it his goal in life to make everyone as miserable as he was, but this 'house call' had fallen to her.Usha Stryfe had certainly picked the short straw with this one.

"And don't you go smiling at me like I'm still a school boy in short trousers. I was stitching my own wounds while you were still sucking your thumb at home with your mommy." Cam glared at the woman. He hated doctors, worse yet, he hated doctors who smiled as gently as the young woman standing in front of him. He was in pain dammit! And he didn't need no sympathy from this slip of a girl who was barely out of nursery school. "What kind of doctor are you? You're meant to make me feel better not worse-Gah!" He finished, shouting out in pain as she prodded his seemingly healed wound. He glared silently at Usha, watching as she once more grabbed her medical tricorder and began to scan the area.

"It seems that a small section of the wound was missed during surgery." She responded, ignoring the thunderous look on his face. "I suggest we arrange a time for you to have a follow-up surgery, nothing major just-"

"So you can butcher me again?"

"I did not conduct your last surgery." She reminded him, smiling only at little when he grumbled under his breath. "But if you would prefer, the new CMO might be able to take a look if that would be more… preferable?"

Cam grumbled. "Another tot in diapers I suppose." He responded with a glare as she prodded the wound once more.

"I assure you that the new Chief Medical Officer and all of the Hawking's doctors are more than qualified to take care of this."

"Tell that to the goon who screwed up the first job eh?"

Usha sighed in relief as the door to the Boatswain's quarters chimed, admitting the very welcomed Chief Corin. Indi smiled warmly at the doctor, before focusing her eyes on the belligerent man sitting in front of her. Even Atwood seemed to relax more at the sight of his ever efficient assistant, though his tone didn't seem to improve at all.

"Weren't you meant to report in over an hour ago?" He asked sternly.

—-

Indi smiled. Despite his bossy behaviour, she was relieved to see that he seemed to be feeling a lot better. On her earlier visit he had almost seemed… pleasant. She shuddered at the memory, wondering how sick he must have been feeling. His gruff behaviour indicated that he was at least on the mend.

"We have a taken on a new officer, a Cadet Matthias Hudson. He came on board when we were docked at Deep Space Nine. The Bynar's wanted him inducted before he took on his duties. He also helped myself and the science department in that other matter you and I discussed last time I was here."

Atwood groaned. "All we need now is another infant that needs nursing." He glared at both Usha and Indi not caring who felt his anger.

"Cadet Hudson is hardly an infant-"

"All cadets are infants!" Cam spat, struggling to sit up as he got worked up. "Messing about on a perfectly good starship before they even have their first pip. It's wrong if you ask me!"

Indi just nodded. The new cadet was certainly no inexperienced greenhorn, but she wasn't about to argue with the bad tempered man. It wouldn't have mattered what she said anyway, as Cam Atwood put his trust in actions alone, and the cadet like everyone else would have to earn it.

Not that Cam Atwood trusted many…

…and once he found out Cadet Hudson's history, he was even less likely to add to that list.

Originally Posted 12/3/08 by Matt Hudson


~One hour prior to Hawking’s arrival at the nebula~

USS Hawking
Main Security Office - Deck 14

Chief Petty Officer William Jameson looked over the assembled shift, his eyes halted briefly over a familiar face… one that had been absent for some time. “Anderson,” he greeted the young crewman, “what’s the good word?”

“All clear, Chief,” she replied, “just got the okay from Dr. Ayre.”

He nodded, “Welcome back, Crewman. Now,” he glanced over the remaining members of the shift, “since, not only we did not receive any new hands in in our department during the stopover at DS9, Rodriguez was re-assed to the Megiddo transition team. That, on top of losing Darvin and Burgess, means things are gonna be tight for the next little while. We’ll all be working our shifts, plus two extra half-shifts per cycle until we can get some backup, and LT is putting in a request for some admin support from other departments…”

“And when will Hawking rate high enough to receive a minimum roster?” Gran grumped from the rear.

Jameson, used to the Tellarite’s sourness, gave a shift of his huge shoulders, “Hard to say. Not like there’s ever a line out the door for spots in Security.” Which was no more than true. Security wasn’t a career track most sane individuals aspired to. “And now all the muscle is getting siphoned off by that Megiddo clusterf**k so…”

Frank Rintala, who was lounging against the rear wall, directly behind Anderson, leaned forward, “Looks like you should’ve stayed in the XO’s office,” he whispered, “better hours… not so much time on your feet…”

“Did you have something to add, Rintala?” Jameson interrupted the suggestive comment, noting that, while Jenny looked less than pleased, her expression was cold, not frightened, as it might have been a few weeks past.

The first kill could do that…

“The Petty Officer was just expressing an interest in a yeoman position,” Jenny said calmly, not bothering to look back at the other grunt.

“Well, Frank, you just let us know when the job gets to be too much for you… I’m sure LT would be more than happy to sign off on a transfer.” Especially after the behaviors he’d displayed during the meeting with the IAS crew. If the team weren’t already short handed, this asshole would’ve been debarked with the bodies. As it was, a demotion was the most Tenanji could afford.

The man in question just gave a short laugh and a shrug.

“Then you’re all dismissed. Anderson,” he nodded towards the crewman, “a moment.”

When the others had filed out or hunkered down over reports at the two massive desks the room boasted, Jameson faced the young woman. “Just thought you might want to try on your new rank,” he told her, holding out a pair of collar tabs, these bearing two diagonal stripes. “You stopped being a recruit a long time ago,” he told her, “but we wanted you back on the team before… well, you know. Congratulations… apprentice.”

Jenny let out a gust of breath before taking the rectangles from her superior, “Thanks, Chief,” she told him, looking him in the eye for the first time in a long while, “This means… it’s important. Thank you.”

“You earned it,” he replied before dropping his voice and shifting so his bulk shielded the two, “Now… about your counseling… I know the Commander has been away and then you were WIA but…”

“Oh,” Jen looked down a moment, “right. I thought… I guess I thought…”

“Even if you weren’t already dealing with some stuff,” the large noncom interrupted, not wanting to spell out the kind of 'stuff' she was dealing with, “you just killed in the line. It’s SOP for anyone who’s had to take a life so… get it on your schedule.”

“Does this mean I’m not on-duty?”

“Hell, no… you’re floating today, covering the breaks. But if you don’t get your clearance from T’Shaini, it’s back to desk jockeying…”

“I’ll contact her after shift, Chief.”

Bill smiled, “I kinda figured you would.”

Originally Posted 12/3/08 by Jenny Anderson


~Approximately forty minutes prior to Hawking's arrival at the Nebula~

USS Hawking
First Officer's Quarters

The door chimed only moments after Harry entered his quarters and he wondered if Rayne were tracking him down… maybe she'd conjured some more reports that needed signing. Eschewing the vocal, he opened the door manually, the better to block any end runs the yeoman might make… "Oh… hey," he stepped back a pace as the door whisked aside to reveal Kerrin. Less exhausted then the last time he'd seen her, when Bramley had called her into the mor… into sickbay… after Harry had woken up.

"Hey." Kerrin unsuccessfully tried to disengage her fingers that were now tied in a knot in her hair because she had been twisting it nervously waiting for the door to open. "I…uhhh….I thought I would stop by to see…"

"Here," he drew her in, carefully… as if she were made of crystal and easily broken, "let me." He ran his hand over hers, his fingers sliding easily through Kerrin's dark hair as the door slid closed and thinking how, trapped on the IAS, he'd never expected to see her, again. Touching her, now… even after so many days back on the Hawking… it seemed unreal. "I'm sorry things have been… busy. I swear, I've lost track of the debriefings by now." Harry took hold of the newly freed fingers and contemplated Kerrin's hand. Not long ago, he'd have brought that hand to his lips but now… now, he was afraid… afraid of her fear, expressed before they'd left for Girijan and everything had gone so very wrong.

"Funny…" Kerrin started dreamily as she stared down at her hand laying on top of his. "I knew…not from the way he acted, well, that too…but mostly because when he touched me it was…empty." She waved her other hand as if diffusing a cloud of smoke. "Nothing. No reaction…no zing…no nothing."

Harry went cold all over, "He… touched you?" Blue eyes locked onto green, "Did he hurt you? Did he…" but how, how could he begin to ask?

"Ahh.." Tactical error, tactical error. She forced a smile, "No, he didn't…just grabbed my wrist, tried to kiss me pretending he was you…that was the kicker…blech."

The visual, however, had him falling back, away from the woman he… "I'm sorry," he said, shoving his hands into his pockets, guilt eating at him beneath the wash of gratitude because it could have been worse…. so much worse. Jillian's face, cold and empty jumped across his vision, "I don't… I don't know what I should be feeling," he admitted, lost.

"I'm sorry." Kerrin stretched her hand out toward him only to let if fall away in uncertainty. "I don't want you to have to feel anything, I shouldn't have brought it up." She shuffled a bit back toward the door. "I just wanted to make sure you knew that I am…" Her voice broke a little, "very glad you are back."

Her words echoed around in the hollow which he was sure had taken the place of his heart. One hand running over scar on his chest, where the priest's beetle had… fed, "I don't know if I am back." He said it so quietly Harry didn't know if he'd even spoken aloud.

Kerrin opened her mouth to respond…but she had no idea what to say. Did he mean that he might leave again? No, it was far more than that. What she did know was that at those words she felt an unfathomable chasm open up between the two of them. Choking back the tears that had sprung up, Kerrin backed so quickly toward the door that she bumped up against it. "I…" Hold it in til you get out, dammit. "I guess…I…sorry…I am so sorry, I have to go." Hating that she was starting to cry and more hating that he could still make her, Kerrin ran out the door so that he couldn't see the tears that were beginning to spill over her lashes.

He'd made her cry, and while Harry knew that was a bad thing, a part of him was relieved. "Your path is strewn with the dead…" the words, spoken by Ammah, seemingly years ago, surfaced in the wake of Kerrin's departure. Turning away from those words, away from the space the woman had left behind, Harry headed towards the bathroom, thinking a douse of cold water might shock him back to something like normalcy but when he got there, he found himself trapped by the image in the mirror… the image of the hollow man… the man who had, indeed, left a path strewn with the dead.

JP with Harry Finn featuring NPC Kerrin Schaeffer (trying to keep myself involved)

Originally Posted 12/3/08 by T'Shaini


:: USS Hawking ::
:: The Brig ::

Jill Munro sat upon the bed of her cell. She counted outloud and on 10 would toss a mushy pea at the intricately designed forcefield that had kept her locked in the brig for the past five days. It was really quite beautiful, she thought as she studied the fine lines of light that sprinkled along the invisible wall. She rolled her eyes. Was this what her life had become?

Bored with her study of the forcefield she lay upon the bed and let out a slow, long, shaky breath. They would be coming for her soon to interview her. Was an interview code for interrogation? - how ironic would that be. She fully expected to be left behind on DS9 but Lt. Commander Callan Vail had promised her leniency if she stayed on the Hawking. He didn't have an explanation and she didn't ask for one. She was just happy to be out of Alliance space. Plus, she figured more would be revealed at this final interview. She stood up and walked up to the forcefield and peered around the room - still empty. Captain Torrik had dropped the other prisoners off at DS9 - which suited her just fine. Their obvious nervousness at simply being there was beginning to annoy her. The sweat on their brows, the way they paced the cell, the soft sobs at night - all indicators that they had probably never fully examined and accepted what the consequences of their actions would be. She on the other hand was absolutely enthralled to here. Bored, yes. But happy nonetheless. A lifetime in a Federation brig would be better than a lifetime of being an Alliance puppet.

She plopped back down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. The light of her cell was just, well, there. It did not change or waver during the day and at night it was a dark, subdued lighting to bring sleep and nothing more. The food was strange, though some of it had been familiar as well. The IAS Hawking replicator menus were made up of Klingon and Bajoran dishes and as a result she had lots her "taste" for anything terran. Oh well. She would survive this just as she'd survived everything else up until now. Including her betrayal to, well, both sides.

"Jill Munro…the evil doctor from the evil mirror universe."

Jill jumped at the voice on the other side of the forcefield. She sat bolt upright and stared at the man standing there. "Who the hell are you?" She asked sharply.

The man crossed his arms and pouted playfully, "Now that isn't very nice. Didn't your mother teach you any manners."

"Not that I can recall." She got up and walked towards the man, "Is there something I can do for you? Or did you just come here to poke the rat?"

He couldn't help but grin, "Oh you're fun! You've got all sorts of buttons I can push, dont cha?" He took a PADD out of his lab jacket and waved it in front of her, "I just finished reading all about you, and since I am the one who will be performing your physical I figured I best introduce myself."

"Oh goody." She replied flatly.

"I'm Doctor Ender Seldon, ship's CMO."

"What?" Was she on the wrong ship? "No, you're not. Jillian Munro is the ship's CMO."

Ender turned on his toes and took a seat on the bench across from her cell, "Actually she's not. According to this file, you're little IAS friend, Harry Finn, killed her by strangulation. I am her replacement."

She felt a sinking sensation in her chest, a mixture of sorrow and disbelief, "…Finn…" She shook her head, "Where is he now?"

"According to this little factoid," he lifted the PADD again, "he's dead."

She furrowed her brow, "You think he's still alive?"

Ender shrugged, "Don't know. Jillian Munro is dead and here you are…quite the predicament we're in. Talk about a mind f**k."

She sighed. This man was beginning to annoy her, "Why are you here?"

"Word on the street is you'll be assigned to duty shifts in medical and science. To be honest, the whole idea gives me the heebie jeebies…Why the brass would trust you to run around the ship with that sick little mind of yours is beyond me. After reading this report I'd feel much better if we just left you on some deserted M-class planet."

"Are you always this…"

"…pleasant?"

"I was going to say obnoxious."

"Hey! I said M-class, didn't I?"

"Get to the point. Can't you tell I'm busy?" She said flatly.

His smile faded and his voice dropped to a whisper, "I just wanted to let you know, before the Captain sends you on your merry way, that I'll be watching you. Nobody f**ks with my sickbay or my staff. If you so much as look at me wrong, I'll have you sedated and shipped back through that orb-hole you came from before anyone even notices you're gone. You get me?"

A smile lifted from the corner of her mouth, "I get you."

A grin erupted from the doctor's face accompanied by a jolly slap of his hands, "Fantastic! Well then…" His voice returning to a normal level, "I look forward to seeing you in sickbay. You and me, we have a special bond. I can just FEEL it."

"Just promise to ease up on the threats, OK?"

"I can't promise that, but I WILL promise to always apologize after." He turned on his heels and waved sheepishly over his shoulder, "Later, creepy."

Featuring: Jill "creepy" Munro
Originally Posted 12/3/08 by Ender Seldon


USS Hawking
Deck 5, Sickbay

“Spill,” Stephanie stated as she followed Tatiana around Sickbay. The doctor and sensor technician had broken their vow to hang out at the arrival of the new Chief Medical Officer and the meeting he called. Seldon was gone to the brig, and Hall had returned to resume her conversation with her friend. “How’s the new guy?”

Tatiana paused to consider the question, tightly grasping multiple hyposprays in her hands to prevent them from falling to the floor. “As with most men in a position of power, he thinks he’s the best thing this side of the Gamma Quadrant, but I could tell that patient care is really important to him and for that I can live with his all encompassing ego and long-winded speeches.”

“Well,” Stephanie responded. “At least you’re positive about one thing.” Stephanie continued to follow Tatiana around, stopping when the brunette paused in front of a pile of supplies that had been gathered earlier. The sensor technician eyed the messy, but interestingly still standing tower of medical instruments.

“I volunteered for cleanup earlier,” Tatiana explained when she noticed Hall’s gaze focused on the pile. “I’m just finally getting around to it. We’ve had too many follow-up procedures in the last couple of days; there were more screw-ups than I like in the craziness the IAS mess. They were small, but still…”

Stephanie grimaced, “That’s not good.” An Osteo-regenerator fell to the carpet, and Stephanie crouched to pick it up. After laying it in the outstretched hand of Thorne, she rose to the sound of popping knees and crinkling uniform. She hissed at the quick flash of pain, and leaned forward to rub the joints. At Tatiana’s raised eyebrow she shook her hand to ward off the doctor’s expected medical diagnosis. “Back off woman, I’m fine.”

Tatiana looked doubtful, and reached for one of the tricorders. “Let me take a quick look.”

Stephanie reached out and pushed the tricorder back down, “I’m fine, Tatiana.” The woman knew that her friend wouldn’t let it go, so she changed the subject. “So, you and Vince…” she led off, waiting for Thorne to answer.

“I don’t know,” Tatiana answered. She was confused. It was something that crossed her mind when she had time to think about something other than what was going on in Sickbay, “We haven’t talked much since before the IAS thing. I just…don’t know.”

“Relationships, or whatever it is you guys have, are complicated,” Stephanie said knowingly. “I think if it continues to go this way, confront him, if nothing changes cut your losses. You’re twenty-four; you don’t need to be tied down. Anyway I have news; I heard that one of the Security guys had his eye on you.”

“Rintala?” Tatiana scrunched her face in disgust at Stephanie’s nod, “No, not even if he was the last man left in the galaxy. He’s a creep.” She shook her head, and began to load the items back into their proper place. “We shouldn’t be talking about this, like I said I don’t know. I could completely be blowing this out of proportion…he could just be busy like I’ve been,” she said more to convince herself than Stephanie. Tatiana pushed in the final drawer, and looked up at her friend, “You should probably get out of here. I’m not sure he’ll like you hanging out here.”

“Alright then, later,” Stephanie said with a wave behind her to Thorne. The dismissal didn’t bother her as much as it should have. She always got the answers she wanted, she’d just corner the woman later and in true Thorne fashion, she’d reveal everything that was on her mind regarding the subject.

“Bye,” Tatiana said absent-mindedly as she looked around Sickbay to see if there was more for her to do.

Featuring NPC Stephanie Hall
Originally Posted 12/3/08 by Tatiana Thorne


~As Hawking reaches the nebula~

USS Hawking
First Officer's Quarters

T'Shaini stood outside the door, hand hovering over the chime, he had been avoiding her…well, so had Nils, but Harry was her patient so she felt far more justified in hounding him than she did the Captain. Perhaps it is with good reason….perhaps speaking to me is not going to help. She shook off the unproductive thought and signaled to enter.

"Bad, bad, bad timing…" Harry wrapped the towel around his hand and considered ignoring the chime. Then again, it didn't take a genius to ask where the XO was and it would look pretty sad for him when the computer revealed he was hiding in the bathroom like a kid who'd skipped his homework. Pressing down on the cuts he let out a short breath and headed for the main room, "Come in," he called out in a voice tarnished with resignation.

T'Shaini slipped in to the room with decidedly less assurance than was her wont, then her pace picked up as she took in his injured hand. "Oh Harry…what happened?"

"Slipped in the head… there was some water on the floor and I wasn't paying attention and I tried to catch myself on the mirror, which didn't go so well," he grimaced, "it's no big… at least now I have an excuse not to shave."

She ran to the corner to retrieve the med kit and nodded at him to sit down at the table. Pulling a chair up beside him she unwrapped his hand and began to pull the small pieces of glass left by the shattering of the mirror, then disinfected the cuts, ignoring the hissing that was going on over her head. "So you…slipped, and steadied yourself by pushing your fist into the mirror?" The Vulcan asked dryly.

"I told you it didn't go so well." He'd wondered how long it would take the Counselor to track him down. She'd want to see how he was doing and, being her, he knew what she'd see and seeing, of course she'd want to fix things… make them better… make him better.

Which was why…

"Mmm." How should she begin. "How long were you intending to avoid me?"

Her repairs complete, Harry took custody of his hand back, "I'm not… exactly. There's still a lot going on with the loss of the station and the new hands and some… issues with Kendrassa Prime." He flexed the hand; made a fist; stared at it, "And I'm trying to pick up some of Ni… the Captain's… workload, too. You know?"

There was a shadow across her eyes that she could not quite blink away as she looked up. "Ah yes, I know." Quickly putting together the med kit, T'Shaini tucked it back away. With her back to him the Counselor stared out at the stars wondering if forcing herself on him was indeed the correct course to take. "Do you wish me to leave?"

"Jeez, Wendy," he turned to where she was standing, staring out at the mobile stars, "It's not that dire. I'm not… look… okay, we both know some fairly heavy shit went down, over there," there being the IAS Hawking, ship of a thousand screams, "but for once I've embraced my inner Pev: admitted I was in a situation over which I had no control. On the IAS, I was… I was powerless to prevent anything that happened and isn't that exactly what you'd tell me?" He managed to hold her gaze for almost six whole seconds before looking away. "Meanwhile, there's still an unholy amount of work to be done and people who need your help… way more than…"

"So yes…I should leave." Straightening her shoulders T'Shaini nodded coolly in Harry's direction. "I will leave you to your work, you know where to find me if you so choose."

"Yeah, okay. I'll catch you… after things ease up?"

"Yes…after." The hollow in her stomach growing, T'Shaini quickly walked out the door, it was not until she could feel it slide shut behind her that she let her body sag…she took a moment, leaning against the wall to let the failure wash over her. Enough, get up and keep trying…just not here. Standing tall, she tucked her hair behind her ears and set off down the corridor….perhaps Jenny will see me.

Meanwhile, the man left behind returned to the bathroom to stare at the fractal reflections of self-loathing scattered over the floor. He knelt down and lifted one of the slender shards, considering..

=/\= Jezera to Lieutenant Finn=/\=

He dropped the sliver of glass. “Finn, here. Go ahead.”

=/\=The Captain wished you to be informed that we’ve reached the emergent nebula and have discovered a single passenger vessel in apparent distress within. Chief Lottz is attempting to get a lock on the pilot.=/\=

Harry closed his eyes briefly at the mention of the Captain. It was of a piece with all their communications since the XO’s formal accounting of his incarceration on the IAS. Not that he blamed his CO. If their positions had been reversed, and Harry forced to watch while another Nils strangled the life out of Kerrin… “Has a Security team been dispatched?”

=/\=Sir, yes. Lt. Tenanji has sent a detail to transporter room one and… Captain Torrik is on his way, as well.=/\=

"Did the Captain have any specific orders for me?” It was like deciphering a freaking code… did Nils want him in on the contact or was this a warning to stay away?

There was a break in the comm and Harry could almost see the uncomfortable glances being traded on the bridge.

Finally =/\=No, sir. He only asked that you be informed of what was happening.=/\=

"Right… well… you can consider me duly informed. Finn out." He found his eyes drawn once more to the fragments of his ruined mirror before letting out one short, pained breath. Turning away, he walked out of his quarters, heading for transporter one.

No matter what else had happened, for the moment at least, he had a job to do.

JP with Harry Finn (who, thank goodness, believes in pre writing)
Originally Posted 12/4/08 by T'Shaini


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Munro quarters ::

Jill sat up in her bed with a soft gasp. She shot a nasty look at the Federation COMM badge by her bed that no doubly had given away her location. The chime screamed again only annoying her even more as she attempted to untangle herself from her blankets.

"Come in!" she grumbled while lazily stumbling towards the entrance of her newly assigned quarters. It took about 1/5th of a second before an intense wave of regret flushed over her, "Oh, for the love of…." She muttered, "…mental note to self, ask highly sophisticated computer who's at the door before opening."

Doctor Seldon held out a PADD, "It's time to get to work."

"I ask for a couple of hours of undisturbed sleep, and I can't even have that?"

"You could have it if you still lived in that hell hole you came from, but if you want to live on the nice ship where, you know, we don't interrogate people for fun or post the torture technique of the day, than yeah…I'm gonna need you to be on-call at noon on a Thursday."

Jill yawned while reaching out to grab the PADD, "Give it here." She gave it a quick glance before tossing it back to him and turning towards her bedroom.

"What?" He raised his hands, "Not enough whips and shackles?"

She waved over her shoulder, "I don't do meet and greets, I've never been much of a people person."

"Really? Cause I would have thought differently…I mean, you had me at hello."

"Go away, Dr.Seldon. I could care less about some guy in a nebula. Wake me up if he's actually dying."

He snickered with a snort, "You're not that important, Creepy. I'm only here because you've got a debt to pay. You wanna stay on this ship, you've gotta earn your keep. Callan Vails orders."

Jill stopped and turned around, a soft smile on her face, "I saved the blond girl."

"Which is the only reason you're still here. You earned one person's trust. You've got an entire crew to work through." He tossed the PADD back at her, "Here's your first assignment." He paused for a moment to look the woman over. He didn't like this one bit, but orders were orders. He gave a closing nod before turning towards the door, "Report to Thorne when you're finished." As the doors swished open he stopped one last time, "Oh, and remember…" He shaped his index and middle fingers into a V and quickly motioned towards his eyes and then towards her.

Featuring Ender Seldon
Originally Posted 12/5/08 by Jill Munro


A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows

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