Kick It Into High Gear

"What? The guy with the brain the size of a small planet can't fix the communications systems?" Cadet Boyce said in a shocked tone. He shook his head in feigned wonder at Kal-El. The petty officer had just declared their search a lost cause which prompted the playful jabs at Kal-El's intellect.

"Brain? Don't you mean ego?" BHP said as he ran the tri-corder over the duotronic nodes for what seemed like the umpteenth time. His 'bodyguard', Cadet Mellon sat nearby, packing wiring back into the computer systems. Burke had kept him in Main Engineering for all of an hour then suggested he go and help the trio that had been charged with repairing the comms.

"Ego perhaps, he certainly cannot mean Kal-El's reproductive organ," Bilara said uncharacteristically. After an hour of listening to Boyce and Kowalski, the Napean had become skilled at verbal fencing..in her own way. She looked from one engineer to the other as they stared at her in rapt silence. "Was that not.."

"And Wakeel with the steal!" BHP said in admiration.

"And the burn," Fenton remarked with a grin. "I knew there was a reason why I liked you so much Petty Officer. Quiet, reserved, then comes out with the ultraburn when you're not expecting it." And she's cute too. Boyce thought as he complimented the new edition to their group.

Bilara began to blush furiously and dropped her eyes to the checklist on the PADD in front of her. He said he liked me!

"Do you guys ever get any work done in Engineering?" Mellon suddenly asked BHP as she reached into the systems to stuff more wiring back into place. All eyes were on her after that statement. Maybe I shouldn't have said that.

"Name one time when the ship has stopped working," Pierce said, then added, "besides right now." He smiled at Mellon Astyr. She was his guard but she was nice too. Sure she had all the self-importance that came with being a cadet but she was down to earth and friendly also. Most importantly, she obeyed regulations but didn't make him feel like a convicted criminal. "You're just jealous because Security is so boring.."

"..and your boss has a stick up his ass," Fenton commented.

"..and Darby Saunders is there.." Kal-El's comment was followed by a chorus of "Oooo's"

"I found the problem," Bilara said, pointing to the inner recesses of the comm. system. BHP followed her finger past the end of his nose and just past Astyr's left ear to a small device lodged between the door and some wires. He reached out to grasp the device.

"DON'T TOUCH THAT!!" Kal-El yelled, causing Pierce to withdraw his hand quickly. Memories of Ensign Obatu and the terrible accident in which Kal-El was injured still haunted the man. "Fenton go get Security, tell them we need a bomb disposal expert down here. The rest of you give that thing a wide berth until they get here." Kowalski's tone was so serious that no one argued the point with him.

Is Jenny part of bomb disposal? BHP wondered, hoping he would at least get to talk to her again, as he drew away from the sabotaged panel. "Is Jen..Crewman Anderson part of the bomb squad?" he asked Mellon.

"Yes, she's cleared for ordinance, but she hasn't reported in yet," Mellon replied absentmindedly as she studied the device while keeping her distance.

"What? Since when?" BHP asked the cadet. He had a real bad feeling about Jenny's disappearance.

"When Lieutenant Hillman came to Engineering," Mellon said, turning to face the engineer as she spoke, "he asked me about you and her and.." Pierce was nowhere to be seen. "Pierce? Aw no."

Featuring a whole bunch of npcs.
Originally Posted 6-17-2008 by Javier Costala


-Dosi Trade Station-

In the chamber of the first knot, Qaniit lay a hand on the view of his granddaughter's prison. She had been young to come to the table but, in the world of trade, you learned to strike a good bargain early or not at all. The water rose and Sialuk shivered with the encroaching cold… at her waist, now and she was short for her age… and the old, old man watched her eyes close against the coming dark. He turned away, to view the Starfleet officer's latest decisions… faced with an overwhelming opposition, he made a retreat. He would preserve life rather than fight a pointless battle. It was important to know this… to know how those of the Federation might behave in battle. If the rumblings in the stars were true, there might be more battles to come… though from what quarter no one yet knew.

It was important to know how they thought, he reminded himself, important that the Dosi be able to trust in the peoples from the other side of the wormhole. It was important, what Sialuk was doing for her tribe.

Inside the tube Sialuk became aware of the quivering of her insides. No need for concern, the human was brave and smart…and handsome, and was no doubt already close to the last trial. Water waist-high she twirled, creating a small whirlpool one way, then the other, hoping for her grandfather's sake that she looked carefree but using the movement to warm her body that was beginning to chill. Why could not the trial be done with warm water? Sialuk understood the importance of the information they were gathering, they had all heard of cultures and peoples that had been wiped out by an outside force and she was proud to be a part (if only a small one) of the group chosen to make certain that it did not happen to the Dosi. However, she was not yet ready to resign herself to any fate, no matter how worthy.

Javier stumbled through the fifth doorway and crashed to the floor. He was bone-weary, the fourth trial had worn him out and pushed his body to its physical limits. When he had not been running from and fighting Dosi warriors, the engineer had been busy trying to escape from the tree maze which the avenue had become. Thankfully, some feeling had returned to his left hand, allowing him to grasp objects weakly. He had climbed up trees, burrowed through their branches, rent his clothing on them and scratched nearly every part of his body as he fought to free himself from the maze. At every point where he hadn't had to fight a thicket, he had been assaulted by two or three Dosi warriors intent on clubbing the life out of him.

"I need some band-aids," he told the floor. The floor remained impassionate to his plight. A soft beep sounded in the room. "I'll take some pancakes and coffee, thank you," the engineer said before turning his head to lay his cheek against the cool metal floor. Beep. Up. Get up. The time-keeper is not getting any dryer the sound reminded him of the urgency that he needed to have in performing the trials. With a sigh and the sinking feeling that this was the beginning of another unpleasant Dosi trial, the engineer dragged himself to his feet. The only pleasure he took from his tattered appearance, was that the ugly red shirt, rent and torn, was nearly unwearable. I'm going to get a blue one when I get back. Nils at least owes me that much.. Beep beep. Stay focused on the task. I need to hurry for her sake. Javier reminded himself. His hand clenched around the handle of a small knife with a uniquely rounded point. The last Dosi warrior he had defeated had yielded it to him. Upon receiving it the door had revealed itself, allowing him to progress to the next trial.

Beep beep.

Then he noticed that two sounds were made instead of one. The change made him search for the object that was emitting the sounds. It sat on a metal table in the center of the room and was like no other puzzle that he had seen before. It consisted of a four plasma charges, wiring and a four different triggers. It wasn't just a puzzle, it was also a bomb, four bombs to be exact. Each separate bomb had its own detonation device but Javier knew that once one bomb detonated, the others would follow suit. Two of the counters had started their countdown and were..

Beep beep beep.

The sound came from the bomb on the upper left which activated itself as a third tone was heard. Is that the timer? How many beeps before detonation? the engineer thought. Nine, nine is the perfect number. he heard Sialuk say. One of the devices was on the count of four. Javier focused on the first two, since he had been on the floor when the first bomb had started its count, he had no idea which one would explode first. I need to quickly disable them both. He studied the two devices then chose the trigger he knew would be the easiest to disarm.

The bomb utilized an 'old school' ignition sequence which ran through wiring from its counter. He took the knife the Dosi warrior had given him and cut the appropriate wire. Javier breathed a sigh of relief then switched to the other device, working as quickly as he could with an injured hand as the minutes ticked away. While he worked the third and fourth bombs activated themselves. The second bomb took longer to 'safe' because it required precise removal of a series of magnets. He found the beeping annoying and tuned it out while he worked. Finally Javier was able to disarm the second device by removing its magnetic detonation points which were being drawn together. He took the magnets then used them to coax the fourth bomb's trigger mechanism away from the detonater circuit. Each piece affects the other..like a puzzle.

Javier began to work on the third bomb, struggling to remove the motion sensitive detonater with his weakened hand while steadying the minute rocker with the edge of the knife blade. "Come on, nearly there," he whispered. His hand tremored slightly as Javier felt the nerves spasm painfully. Not now, he thought, willing his hand to be steady. It was the same hand he had injured when the engineer had smashed it into a console upon hearing the news of Lia's 'death'.

Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep.

Featuring Qaniit (HF) and Sialuk (TeeBaby).
Originally Posted 6-17-2008 by Javier Costala


::USS Constitution::
::Bridge::

Chief Petty Officer Jameson wondered if the Bynar Ops officers were going to finish their internal consult before his brains exploded from their off-pitch conversation or after. He then wondered if they’d even notice the gray matter coating the deck in their enthusiasm for whatever the hell it was they were talking about.

“It is a grave…”
“… situation, indeed,” the pair concluded in Standard, drawing the attention of everyone on the bridge.

“What, what is grave?” that from Lieutenant Torrik who looked to be wearing a trail in the floor covering around the Captain’s chair.

“A review of…”
“… the sensor records over the past…”
“… two hours revealed a transporter signature…”
“… which we had not noted at that time…”
“… as we were engaged in seeking out anomalies in the communications systems and…”
“… this transporter engaged very closely to the transport of our crew to the Dosi station. The unauthorized transport, however,”
“… came from deck two; specifically from Captain Benjamin’s…”
“… quarters.”

There was a short beat as everyone waited for 111 to pick up where 110 had left off but it looked like they were finished. Torrik opened his mouth but then…

“Of more concern is the energy signature…”
“… of the illicit activity.”

Another pause but this time everyone waited.

“As near as the Constitution’s ancient sensors…”
“… can determine…”
“… the transporter beam was of Breen…"
"… origin.”

Into the ensuing silence, the turbolift doors opened to reveal a stone-faced Lieutenant Hillman.

Jameson wasn’t the only one on the bridge who had the feeling things were about to go from bad to worse.

Featuring another slew of NPC’s
Originally Posted 6-18-2008 by Harry Finn


Jenny was alone in a teeny tiny box so cramped her limbs had long since given up tingling and settled on numb.

So how come it felt like there was someone else in here with her?

Don’t be stupid, her thoughts berated her; normally (being one of those people who talked to herself), she would have said it out loud but the weird deadening of her voice in the crate was icky and besides, she was beginning to sense that oxygen might well be an issue. The phantom presence wasn’t anything more than her imagination getting the better of her. At this rate she’d be candidate for some serious counseling once this nightmare ended.

And it would end, right?

In desperation Jen latched onto her memories of the counselor, hoping the image of T’Shaini’s soothing presence could somehow ease the fluttering panic in her chest. She bet the Vulcan would never have found herself in a situation like this… T’Shaini was the shit…

Her breath hitched to a stop as something sighed through her thoughts. That’s not me…

No, it’s me

………. Chuck?

Hello, Jenny…

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 6-18-2008 by Harry Finn


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Bridge ::

Connecting the dots was simple. In fact, the picture that came together as each fact revealed a portion of the puzzle was so stark and real that nausea was Nils’ only viable response.

“The Captain’s been abducted,” he spoke into the ether. Listening ears on the bridge were inconsequential. Most of the things which only hours before seemed dire, faded to a meaningless pulp in the base of his skull as a new reality formed around him.

With the Captain gone, Torrik Nils held command of the USS Constitution and bore the responsibility of all aboard on his shoulders. Part of the crew was on some damned fool’s errand and more than likely there was a saboteur on board.

The blank faces around him on the bridge of the old vessel helped shock him back into the moment. He suddenly realized he’s spoken out of turn. Though the Captain’s abduction was quite plain to him, a rash pronouncement was very… uncommandlike…

“Sound general quarters,” Torrik snapped, dropping into the Captain’s chair. “Red Alert, raise shields and get someone down to engineering now… Tell them we need the comm. immediately. O’Keefe work with engineering to determine what the hell is wrong with our comms…” Red Alert was risky in proximity to the Dosi station. Without direct comm the action would be interpreted as hostile, and the correct response would be… “Helm, move us out of the station’s weapon range, full impulse.” Consequences be damned, he wasn’t letting another member of this crew off the ship, abducted or otherwise.

“Sir, we’ll be out of transporter ran….”

“I know it,” Nils said, reigning in his desire to snap at whichever crewmen felt the need to remind him of that piercing fact. As understanding dawned around the bridge, his orders bore life and became reality. It sickened him on more levels than he currently could comprehend. He glanced at the science console longingly, then focused on the image of the Dosi station… As it shrank away from view…

The Bajoran’s nausea transformed into pure panic. Crushing it deep into his gut by pure willpower, he settled into the seat he’d been avoiding for over an hour. He’d just effectively issued orders that isolated arguably his three best friends on an alien and possibly hostile station. All three, however, were what Nils considered fast talkers and he believed that they would be able to vouch for the ship’s actions. He had to believe it.

“Hillman report.”

But Hillman never had a chance to respond. The turbolift doors burst open and an out of breath Fenton Boyce spilled out into the bridge. “Already…told…security… Bomb disposal expert needed… Engineering… Possible bomb… In engineering…”

“Prophets be with us,” Nils muttered under his breath.

Originally Posted 6-20-2008 by Torrik Nils


::Reldaran Station::
::Transporter Room::

02:06:13 Hours

“They’re what?”

Akna was beginning to question the dark Human’s hearing, he needed news repeated so often. “The Constitution has once again raised shields, though there is no sign of weapons coming online… and have moved out of range of our weapons systems, as well as our transporters.”

Quincy, who’d been leaning on the wall and contemplating the reunion he planned with Samantha and the girls straightened. “That was unexpected.”

“Do you think?” Tenanji snapped, his reserve of cool apparently tapped dry. “Is there any other activity? Any sign of a threat to the Constitution?”

“Nothing,” Akna began then thought back, “Nothing now. There was a surge… a short energy spike, approximately 98 kilometers off Constitution’s port just before your party transported but it faded quickly and we assumed it was a phantom reading. Since then, there have been no aberrant signals and, I can assure you, our sensors are superior to anything your ancient transport may contain.”

“What is the captain thinking?” David asked.

Usher shook his head, “I have no idea.”

——————————————
::USS Constitution::
::Communications Array Computer::

01:58:57 Hours

Bill Jameson leaned back from the device, now safely encased by the field of a portable shield emitter and considered his findings. “Well, the good news is it’s not a bomb,” he announced to the breathless assembly.

“Your tone indicates that there’s bad news to follow,” Kowalski was standing, arms crossed over his chest, tense as an over-tuned piano wire.

“Oh yeah,” Holding up the tricorder which he’d lifted, like the emitter, from the cache of contemporary supplies Tenanji had stowed in Security, “According to these findings, the device is scrambling our coms but it’s attached like… like an Aldebaran mud leech, secreting a code into our system…”

“So we shut it off…” Boyce offered.

“We can shut it off, take it out, do whatever but the code’s gonna still be in there.”

Kal-El crouched down by the security officer, “And what do we think the code will do once it’s been weaned from its momma?”

Jameson shook his head, which was already pounding from the news he’d heard on the bridge, “I have no idea.”

————————————-
::USS Constitution::
::Bridge::

01:18:12 Hours

“Already…told…security… Bomb disposal expert needed… Engineering… Possible bomb… In engineering…”

“Prophets be with us,” Nils muttered under his breath.

Jameson joined Hillman and Boyce on the upper tier, “Who responded from the deck?” he asked the breathless cadet.

“Jones,” Fenton straightened in front of the intimidating chief, “he pulled out the Hawking’s kit from your office.”

Bill, a demo man from way back, turned to his superior, “I should go down there… he’s rated but…”

Torrik nodded, “Dismissed.”

“Wait,” Hillman put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, “before you go,” he looked at the assembled group, now shaded by the renewed reddish glare of the heightened alert, “one of the security officers is also MIA.”

Jameson’s jaw tightened, “Who?”

Hillman laid it out, quickly and with no frills as he handed the tricorder recovered from Captain Benjamin’s desk, explaining how the CO had been looking at Pierce and Anderson’s findings before he’d disappeared…

“Pierce was in Engineering,” Darren continued, “Anderson hasn’t reported for duty, she’s not in her quarters and the only sightings I’ve found, given lack of coms, were in Pierce’s quarters at 17:50 and then the corridor outside the Captain’s berth, approximately 18:30.”

Torrik accepted the tricorder, troubles chasing across his features. “Chief Petty, you should get to engineering, Boyce, you’re with him.” The two nodded and exited the bridge. Fenton was study in barely suppressed worry and Nils noted that Jameson’s face had gone hard, soldier hard. when he’d learned of Crewman Anderson’s status… but then, she was Security… she was one of his.

And now she’s one of mine, he reminded himself, they all are. Holding up the tricorder, the very item he’d had locked away and encrypted less than ten hours ago, he turned to the Marine, “How much of this did you see?”

“Enough to know I shouldn’t be seeing it.” Darren responded. “What I wonder is, did the Captain see something that led to his abduction?” And what about Jenny? Had she been there, too? A non-com security officer wasn’t about to get the attention that a missing Starfleet captain would and he understood that, as would she but dammit, he liked the girl.

Surrounded by the sounds and colors and emotions of a ship under siege, Torrik shook his head, “I have no idea.”

Featuring NPC’s a go-go and his righteous spiritual self, Torrik Nils!
Originally Posted 6-20-2008 by Harry Finn


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. Part of her not submerged in memory shrank away in horror, the virulence of her reaction beyond comprehension, the fact that she had taken a life beyond reconciliation.

Tingenek's spirit hands came into play, covering T'Shaini's and…

… freeing the dagger from where it had been stowed by Janus, the dagger that had killed Dana, she raised the blade, prepared to plunge it into the madwoman's chest but something held her back… the compassion which had defined every aspect of her existence chilled the burning fury and in that moment, a hitch in time not even measurable by any mortal means, T'Shaini felt the blade plucked from her hovering grip. Quicker than a serpent the half-breed slid the thin blade across the back of the Vulcan's neck, severing the spinal column at the base of her skull and leaving her paralyzed, unable to do more than watch…

She saw Hawthorne/Acker rise to her feet and with a look to the incapacitated Vulcan, cross the several feel to the discarded phaser and scoop it off the floor. Careful not to block T'Shaini's field of vision she carefully took aim and fired, igniting the thermolyte on Harry's uniform. Tears slid from her eyes as she realized he was being slowly engulfed in flame, Acker had not even had the mercy to set the phaser to anything but stun, assuring his death was to be slow and painful.

His eyes, even as he fell through the clinging mutter of flames which ate away at him, were locked onto T'Shaini. There was, in that seemingly endless connection, a wealth of sorrows laced with failure and so much regret… so much… she saw, though, the moment when it became too much and he was allowed to finally, just… stop.

Even though the severing of her spinal cord meant there was no real physical pain, it did not immure her from the emotional anguish of watching Harry let go, then the triumph in Hawthorne's eyes go dark as Nathan and Jenny burst into the shuttle bay.

Nate first, practically leaping from the floor only to be met by the dagger which Janus had retained, burying itself in his throat. Jenny, who followed close on his heels was already firing as she pulled herself up and, even over the swallowed sob at her captain's startling fall, her aim was true. Vanona Hawthorn's body dropped, a puppet without its strings, directly in front of the frozen counselor.

Her despair escalating at the Captains fall, yet with no other external outlet the tears continued to seep helplessly from the counselor's eyes. Watching Jenny's face register both the loss of Nathan and the shot that brought down the one who had taken him from her, held T'Shaini's attention to such an extent that she was unaware of Vanona falling until she found herself face to face with a stare of such unbridled hatred that her brain tried to make her unresponsive body recoil. Forced to remain, the Vulcan witnessed the face of Hawthorne overlaid with the malice of Shaun Ryan Acker bleed out rage and malice until their very last breath.

An eternity seemed to pass before pale hands moved the empty shape of Vanona aside, replacing T'Shaini's view with Jenny's wracked features. "T'Shaini…" her hands hovered over the gravely damaged woman, "I don't… can I move you?" The young girl's eyes, the Vulcan realized, were locked on hers, as if she couldn't bear to see what else lay in the death-filled room. "How can I help?" Even saying the words it was clear that Jen understood there was nothing left, no help she could offer.

For a moment she closed her eyes against the overwhelming grief on the young womans face, coward, then tried to will a look serenity to soothe Jenny's pain but now something pulled the girl's attention away and T'Shaini saw her go, if possible, even more pale.

"Sir," Jenny's voice broke on the single syllable, "we were too late… I'm so, I'm…" but she couldn't finish and suddenly Jen was gone, Vanona was gone, Harry and Nate and all ugliness of their deaths was gone, to be replaced by… Javier…

She heard the clatter of the helmet of the EVA suit hitting the floor as he pushed Jenny to the side to kneel in front of her, she was vaguely aware of being lifted up, her face getting closer to his as the world around them began to fade. Yet one other that is going to leave him…she thought. As her vision began to recede to a pinpoint she offered up all that was left. "Sorry, I am so sorry."

"Come back," his voice followed her into the dark, "Come back… you have to…"

"Come back now," Tingenek's deep intonation broke through the darkness, "It was only a dream, a shadow of what might have been, you are here and safe, you must come back…"

T'Shaini buried her face in her hands, trying to let go of the suffering of the last few moments. It was not real, it was not real… Swallowing hard against the nausea that the turmoil had cause she dragged her hands through her hair then sat up. Her face hardening she stood then stretched her arm out, palm up.

Tingenek also rose but, before he completed the ritual carefully withdrew the devices which had so closely knit her consciousness to his, then lay them on the table. Then he placed his own palm over hers, "What is it they call you?" he asked, then continued before the woman could summon up response, "A counselor? That is a misnomer. You, as much as any warrior, are a guardian. The soul-guardian of your people and you have proven it so, many times and at great cost to your own peace."

She shook her head lightly. "I am simply a counselor, the situations you have witnessed were not the norm…" Her voice broke on the last word as the remorse for Vanona which had yet to be resolved washed over her.

"But now do you see? Had you not killed the broken one, she would still have died and many others with her, yourself included. If, even knowing that, you still have doubts, think on this: you took her life but, in exchange, you gave her back her self. It was, under the circumstances, the best possible bargain… " he then placed his other hand over their joined palms, "It is done." Though, for what he'd learned today, he may be owing to the Starfleet officer.

The words he spoke, an opinion from an entirely unbiased viewpoint, was as a drink of cool water after a long thirst. For the first time T'Shaini felt something lift…a responsibility that was not hers release. Realizing that she still had his palm resting on hers, she laid her other hand over the top of their conjoined hands and squeezed. "I thank you."

"Do not tha…" he began but his words were cut short as the door to the small room opened, revealing another Dosi male. "Sura?" Tingenek's head tilted curiously, "Lieutenant, I present my own soul-guardian, Sura, this is T'Shaini of the Federation starship Constitution."

The newcomer nodded briskly but it was clear his mind was on something other than formalities, "I have come with news," he said, his tone serious, "the Federation vessel has pulled out of transporter range… they raised shields but have as yet made no hostile moves…"

"There was no contact preceding the maneuver?" The Vulcan snapped to attention, of course there was no contact, he would have preceded his message with the information if there had been. Something must have gone wrong. Why is nothing ever simple for this crew? "Though uninformed of the reasoning behind it, I can assure you they have no hostile intent and it would have nothing to do with these negotiations."

"And I will second that," having, in a way, met the captain of the incommunicado vessel, and many of the other crew. He turned towards T'Shaini, "it may, however, require more than our opinion to smooth matters. Perhaps we should seek out the other negotiators?"

After having lost him over and over again in the last few hours, T'Shaini could think of nothing she would rather do than see Javier, and of course confer about the status of the Constitution. Feeling an inner glow at the thought a smile crept over her face as she nodded her agreement.

With a smile which echoed hers, Tingenek laid a hand on Sura's shoulder, "Perhaps you can look into the progress of Lieutenant Commander Munro," he suggested to his mate, "The… Counselor and I shall seek out Ensign Costala.. the one who guards the guardian…"

T'Shaini's smile grew and she felt a warmth suffuse her face at the Dosi's very apt description of Javier…the one who guards the guardian.

JP Tee and Ting (as voiced by the oh so talented Harry Finn)
Originally Posted 6-21-2008 by T'Shaini


-Dosi Trade Station-

A deep rumble came from the sixth and final set of doors. In the fifth room Javier stared up at the doors whose mechanism had protested against opening. "I beat your test!" Javier shouted at the doors, "Open up the doors!" The doors refused to budge. I doubt it's malfunctioning, the engineer thought, I'd bet credits that the Dosi are being sore losers. He sighed and walked back towards the table where he picked up one of the bombs. "I'm going to win this 'negotiation' and get her out of that tube," Javier announced to whoever was watching him. He decreased the explosive charge by three-fourths, siphoning the plasma into the other storage units using the Dosi knife and some scavenged tubing from the other devices.

"Last chance to open the door the correct way," Javier called out, but nothing happened and no one answered him. He shrugged and placed the small charge against the door. "Fire in the Hole!" he said as he removed the magnets and ran to the far side of the room.

WHAM!! The bomb exploded with one fourth of its potential, blowing a large hole in the door, through which Javier crawled into the sixth room.

"Thank the Triad," Qaniit exhaled, coughing a bit at the disheveled Human's rather explosive entrance… a locked door hadn't been in his original program… "now do you set her free and the fee shall be well paid… please," his hand rested on the cell which encased his granddaughter, "please, unravel this knot."

The influx of water increased bit by bit, if she lifted up onto her toes Sialuk could still keep her chin higher than the water line…but that could not last for long. Not only was the volume increasing, but there seemed to be very little open space above her. I wonder where he is, I wish I could see. Suddenly, by what she could only assume was some external force, or perhaps the Triad heard my prayers, the world beyond her confinement appeared. She could see him, he had made it! But why was she still trapped, could they see her? Half swimming forward she began to thump her fist against the clear material as the water level rose.

"Well paid?" Javier retorted, "more like ripped off…I value my life and health a lot more than your people do.." A thumping noise from the tube reminded him that there was one last task to finish. He turned and surveyed the tube then stabbed at it with the Dosi blade. The material turned the blade, deflecting it and didn't even dent. "Shit. I should have known it couldn't have been that simple." His eyes bored into the Dosi elder as he spoke the last word. The engineer was fed-up with the trials, and exhaustion was beginning to take its toll on him. "I'm not a diplomat, just an engineer, so believe me it's the truth when I tell you I think your culture is horrible," Javier told the older man as he searched for a weakness in the tube's construction.

Sialuk pressed her hands onto the glass, one last gulp of air and then she was submerged. She could see the human facing off against her grandfather, no, please…help. She tried to calm herself in the hopes that it would assist her in holding her breath longer, but to no avail. Her heart pounding faster and faster forced small hiccups of air from her body until her hands, no longer having the strength to press, slipped away as she slid into unconsciousness.

Dropping his ceremonial walking stick Qaniit placed both hands where Sialuk's had been, "You are fortunate to have lived in a tribe which has not been pressed beneath the palm of the Founders for generations," he said, eyes locked on the only prize that now mattered. Why had the last door been locked? It had stolen so much time, "If your people pass these tests, then perhaps we will have purchased a new way of thinking…" he turned towards the man, "but if you do not pass…" my little girl…

"The Founders..right, well," Javier started to launch into a monologue about the Dominion War but realized that the old coot seemed really worried about the girl's situation. The engineer's gaze returned to the young woman trapped inside the tube. She isn't going to make it! he thought as small air bubbles escaped from her mouth quicker than normal. He still had not found an opening on the tube. The woman was beginning to float upwards as her life slipped away. His eyes came to a rest on the viewport. It was the only piece of the tube that was not round, nor did it bubble out, meaning that its structural integrity was weaker than the rest of the tube.

"Jesus, this is going to hurt," the engineer said as he dropped the Dosi knife and balled his fist, exhaling as he drove it against the viewport as hard as he could. "Owwww!" The port glass cracked then gave way and shattered outward under the force of the escaping water. Ignoring the pain and clinging to the viewport's edge, Javier grabbed the girl's clothing and pulled her down towards the hole and through the opening. Javier caught her and turned from the tube so he could lay her down on the deck. She didn't move and so he tilted her head back, took a deep breath then pressed his lips tightly against hers, exhaling as he pushed oxygen into her lungs.

The young man had missed the cue about the palm but, nonetheless he certainly got the job done and at great physical cost… the viewport smashed and he lifted the child out of the cell which had filled, the old man thought, much too quickly. Standing off, lest he poison the trial, he watched and waited and prayed that the Human's ingenuity had been quick enough to save Sialuk… and the bargain, of course. It was genuine work not to move forward, to take her chilled hand in his own knobby palm.

Drifting in the dark, the small spark that was what remained of Sialuk wondered if she were dead. It was not at all how they described it if she was…but after the discomfort and terror of her last few moments it was a welcome release. Then she felt the sudden pull, being drawn with a burst back into the present. Starbursts of pain on the inside of her lids as her lungs struggled to fill themselves, the struggle being aided by something warm, which once her body could function without assistance drew away. Whimpering she reached out toward the warmth, fearing the return of isolation.

Three breaths. It took the engineer three times before Sialuk was revived. Maybe there is something to this Triad? he thought as breath filled her lungs and the young woman clutched at him. He lifted her up and held Sialuk with a tenderness and concern that stemmed from being connected with her health and well-being. Javier could feel her shaking as her wet clothing chilled the young woman. "Get her something dry," he told the old man. But the man did not move and suddenly Javier understood why. "Hold out your palm," he gently told the woman.

She stretched out her hand, trembling and tinged slightly blue with cold. Sialuk knew what she must say, but loathe to say it knowing the consequence was the ending of the need for the human to be here. "Done at six, and well done." Moving her hand from the traditional passing gesture she wrapped her fingers around his hand and brought it to her heart. "I thank you, a Speaker always remembers her first, I am grateful it was you."

"Ahem, well, yes," Qaniit, free'd at last stepped towards an alcove to withdraw a blanket, which he then draped around his granddaughter who was currently glowing with her first success… and perhaps something more, "The bargain has been fulfilled and you have earned your share of the Starfleet beacon," he told Javier Costala. "May your companions also see such profit."

"Yes," Javier agreed with the old man, "I hope so," thinking about T'Shaini for the first time in so many hours. He bent his head and placed a kiss on Sialuk's forehead as he disengaged his hand from hers, a painful motion because of the shape his hand was in. "You are a very brave woman," the engineer told the Dosi woman, "your people are thrice blessed to have such a Speaker represent them." He paused then with a grin said, "You were my first also, my first Time Keeper, I will never forget you, Sialuk."

And then, because he was thinking of the one who held his heart, Javier gave the farewell of her people to the two Dosi. "Live long and prosper," he stated before leaving the trial area. Now to find those band-aids.

Qaniit followed the human's exit from the room. He snorted then said, "Humans…well I suppose they're good at something."

Featuring Qaniit as written by Finnegan, Sialuk by TeeBaby and me as myself.
Originally Posted 6-22-2008 by Javier Costala


:: Doci shuttle bay::

"It is the way of things that nothing can be got for nothing. It is the way of things that what is got for little cost has little value. It is the way of things that what is got dearly carries a worth above Keshiite," Chirell said as she led the Federation doctor through the hatch, "and so we must grant worth where, originally, there was none to be found." She glanced around the Dosi shuttle, bare but for the Guardian assigned to herself and the Human. The pilot would have been sealed away, in the cockpit so it was just the three in the small space.

Keshiite, who is that?, Jillian asked herself. She was certain the Dosi guide figured her to be a mute or just plain dumb from the lack of response she was giving, but she really wasn't sure what to say. It had never been her job to make first, second, or third contact. She was a doctor, not a diplomat or ambassador. Reluctant to ask, Jillian cleared her throat, "Forgive me for asking, Chirell, but is Keshiite the Dosi god?"

That earned a rough snort from the Guardian, which Chirell quelled with a look, "It is not," she addressed Doctor Munro. "Kyr, Lyr and Vala are the Holy Triad. Keshiite is a gem, most rare of all on our planet…"

"Mythically rare," again the soldier.

"Some say so," the Speaker of the Kor'Fletug replied. "But I believe there is a sect on the Terran homeworld who has a similar valuation… they would say of their women that they bore a price above rubies." She took a seat on one of the benches and indicated the spot opposite herself, that the other negotiator might sit. "Since it was clear that this beacon was of little consequence to your superiors, in order for this trade to have any meaning, we ask that you face a specific challenge, something that will add value to the object."

Jillian nervously straightened out her tunic before sitting across from the unreadable Kor'Fletug representative. She had been made aware of a challenge, but knew next to nothing about what it entailed, "I have been sent here to accept any challenge you set before me…" she paused, "…and although I can't guarantee success, I do promise you will get nothing but my best efforts."

As the shuttle's engines thrummed and the sensation of movement filled the area, Chirell nodded and leaned forward, holding out her hand, palm up, "I ask no more than you will give," she said as her hand remained hovering expectantly.

Jillian smiled warmly and offered her hand in return. She held her palm under Chirell's, "When do we begin?"

Chirell's head tilted a bit as she listened to the subtle change in the shuttle's engines, "As soon as we reach the planet, we…" but her sentence was never completed as the soft sounds of propulsion suddenly rose to an ear-shattering shriek. The entire compartment rocked and its living contents were tossed like leaves in a gale as smoke and small bursts of flame filled the atmosphere.

Suddenly the shuttle came to a crashing thud, knocking Jillian towards the back of the shuttle, along with her Kor'Fletug guide. The cabin lights flickered off leaving only the burning wall for illumination. "Is everyone alright?" Jillian cried, "Chirell!" No response. She grabbed onto the edge of a bulkhead for support, but was instantly burned form the searing heat traveling throughout the metal frame of the shuttle. Screaming out in pain, she shifted forward onto her knees, attempting to examine her wounds but the air was too thick to see anything. Kneeling low to the ground, she crawled through dense smoke and intense heat, searching for the others, “Chirell!!” A hand brushed the side of Jillian’s leg, “…Mun..ro…”

“Chirell!” Jillian followed the voice, “…grab my hand. We’ve got to get out of here!”

Jillian screamed as her injured hand gripped onto Chirell’s arm. She pulled her through the choking smoke towards the back of the shuttle. The guardian was already at the door, pounding it with his fists.

“All systems are offline…the doors…locked,” he gasped as he threw his body up against the door one final time.

“You’re bleeding”, Jillian leaned towards the guardians torso and inspected the blood gushing between the layers of his uniform.

“We must get the door open!”

The air was too polluted with smoke to go searching around for something to pry the doors open with, the only other option was to force it open.

“Can you cut through it with your weapon”, she asked.

The guardian shook his head, “No, it wouldn’t be powerful enough.”

Jillian wiped the sweat off her brow, “Can we blow it up?”

“I can build up a force-chamber explosion in my weapon…”

“but…”

“But…the blast will destroy most objects within a 2-yard radius.”

She swallowed hard, “Alright… so we risk being injured, but if we stay here, we die.”

A joint post by the talented and multiple personalities of Harry Finn & Jillian Munro.
Originally Posted 6-22-2008 by Jillian Munro


::USS Constitution::
::Communications Array Computer::

Jada O’Keefe had remained silent as Jameson performed the threat ass but, once it was clear the object in question wasn’t incendiary, she went to work with her own tricorder… 24th century, as well. She, like most of the crew, had felt it imperative to maintain at least a backup of contemporary technology in the event of a crisis.

It wasn’t necessarily a comfort that the preparation had proven necessary. “If you’ll allow me,” she stepped forward, taking readings and studying the results. After a contemplative moment she shut down the tricorder and looked to Mr. Kowalski, “Shut it down,” she ordered.

“Buh… I… wha?” Kal-El displayed the same surprising inability to communicate that most males suffered in her presence.

“The code will doubtless cause some damage to our com systems,” she said, “but nothing irreparable over time. As long as it remains affixed and active, we have zero communications capabilities. Do the math.”

Kal-El did the math, and then, once Jameson had shut down the shield, reached in and, with only a minor shower of sparks and a mild jolt of ungrounded power, removed the foreign tech.

—————————-
::USS Constitution::
::Bridge::

Lieutenant Hillman was covertly aware of Torrik Nils' study of the recovered tricorder which the Marine had so recently delivered. It was clear the XO was contemplating the growing necessity of actually looking at the intelligence it contained… if it held any clues to the Captain’s disappearance, there may be no choice. Darren watched as the Bajoran's hand hovered uncertainly over the controls.

“Internal communications…
“… Are online…”

Torrik turned towards the Bynars but, before he could speak…

“Lieutenant,” Ensign Jezera, who had, for the duration of the race, taken the role of communications officer, spoke up from her station, “we are receiving a transmission, source unidentified.” She glanced back at the XO, “It is a read-only, to your attention…”

Watching the Starfleet officer join the Denobulan, all Hillman could think was, this can’t possibly be good news.

Featuring the rise of the NPC's
Originally Posted 6-23-2008 by Harry Finn


-Civilian Guest Quarters-

"Ow Ow Ow," Chris Garcia yelped as he tried to pull away from the young man that had a firm grasp on his snoz. Benjamin Hyde Pierce gave the reporter's nose another little wrench, bending the swollen beezer to the side as the reporter dropped to his knees in agony.

"I'm not going to ask you again," BHP said, his voice harsh, "what time was it and where did she go?"

"I dond dnow," Garcia lamented as the crewman twisted his swollen nose. "She didn dell me anyding." He had thought that his nose could not possibly hurt worse than when Chief Costala had punched him. But BHP had quickly proven him wrong. "Ow, okay I dell you jus led go!"

"Information first, then I'll let go," Pierce said as he loosened up his knuckle-hold on the reporter's sore honk.

"Dis is exdortion..whad I ged in redurn?"

"You get to keep your breathing apparatus intact," BHP replied as he gave the nose another tweek. It was obvious to him that the man had never been on a ship. The few phrases that Garcia had dropped while in the mess, lounge or while chit-chatting with female members of the junior crew had been enough for them to piece together a running story about Garcia's activities.

"He's interested in the Captain's..business with Crewman Anderson," Crewman Ryan, the CO's mess steward and one of the Constitution's original crew, had told Pierce. "He was asking questions about their dinner." BHP had frowned at these words and looked down at the deck. "It didn't go well," Ryan said, causing Pierce to look up in surprise, "but I didn't tell that bottom-feeder that…hey aren't you supposed to be under arrest?"

"I got let out for good behavior," BHP replied then moved past the subject as he thanked the man and departed. He thought he could find Petty Officer 3rd Class Jane Fletcher in the gym working on her lats. But some idiot on the bridge called Red Alert and Pierce was forced to divert his course to the shuttlebay to search for the helmswoman. The trip had taken longer than usual as he had had to be extremely careful in order not to get caught and re-incarcerated. He had finally found the pilot helping prep a shuttlecraft.

"Hey Fletch, I hear Garcia has been hanging around you..has he said anything about Jenny Anderson?" The pilot hadn't yielded her information quite as easily as Ryan had though, and BHP found himself going on a dinner date with the raven-haired beauty before she would tell him what she knew. Apparently the reporter was trying to work the angle that Jenny was involved with Pierce and Captain Benjamin at the same time.

"So is it true?" Jane queried.

"Only in Garcia's dreams," BHP answered with a snort of disgust. ~I wouldn't share Jenny with anyone else..if we were together at all.~ Pierce had thought as he left the gym. ~I really should talk to her about stuff.~ Then reality set in. ~Like she would ever want to be involved with someone like you..a criminal, or a murderer no less.~ Pierce had sighed as the weight of his past fell on his shoulders once more. Garcia had opened his door to Pierce then invited him in and offered Ben a drink when BHP had mentioned the word 'exclusive'.

"She wend away in de lif..durbolif..she nod answer my quesdions!" the reporter squawked as the pain he suffered was magnified. "Seben..sebendeen..dat where she wend!"

"Seventeen?" Why would Jenny have gone down to the cargobay? "Are you sure?"

"Posidib..sebendeen." The engineer let go of his nose and Garcia whimpered as he touched the sore appendage gingerly. "Dis is dordure..Sdarfleed dill dordures beoble. My readers will hear of dis!" the reporter threatened at Pierce's back. The crewman paused at the door.

"Read that garbage you write? Now who's torturing who?" BHP remarked before leaving Garcia's quarters, headed for deck seventeen.

Featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce and Chris Garcia
Originally Posted 6-23-2008 by Javier Costala


She was on the Hawking with Nate, wrapped in his arms on the couch that night after they'd watched vids with Nathaniel and his hand was stroking her hair as she leaned against his chest but, when she turned to smile up at him it wasn't Nate's face and it wasn't his arms around her or his hand in her hair.

"It's good you never gave yourself to him," Chuck said, tightening his grip on the red-gold tether, "Nathan never understood you, Jenny. Not like I do…"

And then they were in Kowalski’s quarters on the Constitution, just Jen and BHP and he’d just finished rigging Kal-El’s replicator to dispense nothing but oatmeal and the two of them were almost convulsing with suppressed laughter, Jenny holding onto Ben’s arm as she tried to maintain but then he got hold of her wrist and with a subtle twist spun her around and back against him while his other hand wrapped around her throat…

“Poor BHP,” Chuck whispered in her ear, “pining away for something he can never have… he’ll never know how sweet you can be. But then, if he really cared, like I care, he’d have told you.”

And then there was Jameson running her through the target range on Hawking, and her instructor in hand-to-hand at the Academy and further back, Harry holding her hand at her father’s funeral…

Locked away from the light, tumbling through a warped retelling of all her stories, Jenny tried to hold on to the endless refrain, "it's not real, not real, none of this is happening, it's notnotnot real…"

But it felt real and now, trapped inside the too potent visions, Jenny's real-time eyes leaked unfelt tears as her life was dismantled piece by piece, and all the vacancies were filled by…

"Hello?" Ben queried as he made his way through the crates to where he had heard an audible sigh. The cargobay had appeared to be empty and after a cursory sweep with the 22nd century tricorder BHP had not found any sign of Jenny. He had been ready to give up his search until the crewman had heard the sigh of contentment. He turned to the side so he could slip through a narrow opening between the rows. The sound of metal grating on metal came to his ears, then the crates in front of him were violently shoved towards Pierce, trapping him in between them as he heard someone run off.

"You better beat it pal," BHP warned as he strained to push the crates off of his chest, "I'll knock you off quick when I get outta here." It took a couple of minutes before the engineer could free himself. "Now who's laughing.."

Pierce heard a sound. There it was again. What did it say? Not real? He cautiously approached the area from where the voice had originated. A box was slightly open and as he watched, pale fingers gripped the edge of the container. Someone is trapped inside! Ben caught the top of the container and shoved it off. Inside the cramped box was a contorted, mumbling Jenny Anderson. He reached down and lifted her out.

"Jenny?"

I used to be… Her eyes closed against the over-bright world outside her prison. Someone was holding her. It felt like something she would have liked, once upon a time, but the arms which had lifted her from the dark (Ben’s arms… Ben… he cares for you… how did you not know?) had been used to hurt her. Chuck had used them in ways…

Chuck! She tried to say his name but it stuck in her throat, held there by the same rank intelligence that was sliding through the maelstrom of her thoughts right now…

“Don’t!” the word exploded and her eyes went wide in panic but she couldn’t see, not really because even as her wracked body struggled in Ben’s careful hold, her memory, all of Jenny that knew what had been done to her and by whom, was being dragged back and back and back, “stop… please…” into the dark, into Chuck's own carefully constructed room where he, laughing, “don't…” locked the door.

"Jenny wait, it's me, it's Ben," Pierce told the young woman as she struggled to break free. He had never seen her in such a bad way and for a second was at a loss of what to do. "I'm going to take you to Sickbay..wait." He tried to nudge his commbadge then remembered they weren't wearing commbadges. "Goddammit. The person who made us take the Constitution should be shot," he hissed as BHP let Jenny slide down to the floor, holding her steady with one arm so he could reach for his communicator with the other. It was right next to his phaser.

"If your hand moves another centimeter, I will shoot you." the voice of Darren Hillman cracked through the young woman's quiet whimpers.

His hand froze as BHP became aware that there were more people in the area. They had to have seen the guy who did this. he thought. "Jenny's hurt, she needs.."

"I knew he was up to no good," the practically fluttering passenger who stood alongside the Marine said, "but I had no idea…" as he spoke, Bill Jameson flanked BHP on the left, his own phaser drawn and his expression unforgiving.

"I'm reaching for my communicator," Ben said but neither man lowered their phasers. Jesus they're taking this arrest a little too seriously. he thought. "Fine, shoot me if you have to but she needs hel…" BHP said as he reached for the communicator. Jameson didn't even blink, he just fired and Pierce crumpled to the floor as Hillman stepped forward to grab Jenny before she fell.

It was, Chuck thought, like directing a play, but better because, for him, with a just little nudge of a thought here, an emotional shove there, these unknowing actors gave him the exact performance he visualized. Too bad about Jenny but, well, he could always visit her later… no one would ever know.

For now, as the burly Security officer dragged Pierce over one shoulder and Hillman cradled Jenny as carefully as one would a child, the hidden Betazoid followed, carefully maintaining his shocked and bewildered expression. It was the work of a moment to slide the hypo he'd been intending to use on the girl into the unconscious engineer's pocket when he passed the laboring Jameson. Let the kid explain that!

It really was almost better than being paid.

Written with JC as BHP and HF as JA
Originally Posted 6-23-2008 by Harry Finn


-Dosi Trade Station-

"Let me see if I understand you correctly," Javier said to the Dosi nurse, "I have to trade something of value with you, so that I can get medical attention?" The engineer's features held a look of utter disbelief. He had ventured away from the testing area after his trials were complete, assuming that the beacon would be delivered to the Constitution when T'Shaini and Doctor Munro finished their trials. His hand was swelling to three times its normal size and the wounds on his chest and shoulders were feeling worse as time passed.

"It is the way of things that nothing can be.." the nurse started to say.

"..given for nothing and blabbity blah blah blah..I've heard that enough today thank you," the engineer interrupted. "You're a nurse, aren't you supposed to treat people? I mean, doesn't seeing someone hurt..say like me for instance, make you want to help?"

"IT IS THE WAY…"

"Okay, I'll just go find a free corner to bleed in," Javier said as he turned to leave the medstation, only to be confronted by a familar face. "Hello Time-Keeper, it seems that the completion of the trials do not cover any medical expenses. I guess I will have to wait until I return to my ship."

"It is the way, which I am certain you have been told." The young Dosi smiled, she had come in search of him, wanting to see him once more before he returned to his ship. "It is medical attention you seek?" One look at him was enough to tell her that that indeed was the case. "One moment." She walked over to confer with the Dosi nurse, touch palms with her and returned with a shy smile. "We have bargained and I have procured you medical attention, you need still bargain with me to retrieve it."

Javier smiled as he shook his head slightly. This place is unbelievable. he thought before asking, "What sort of payment would you require?"

Sialuk could sense the humans disapproval. "You must understand, if we did not seek restitution it would make us rishalu, less than Dosi. It is a custom formed by our history, but solidified by oppression of the Dominion. All worth and value were taken from us, so even something you would consider minor has measured regard. It is how we assure the even the lowest of the Dosi are esteemed.

"I understand that it is part of your culture, it is difficult to accept because it's so different from what I'm accustomed to," Javier explained. "We share what we have with others because we are able to..for instance, if you came to my home to visit me I would provide you with food and drink and a place to rest without having you pay for it. In fact, it would be an insult for me to suggest that you pay for anything that I give to you. Friendship is something you can't put a price on..or so we say."

It was Sialuk's turn to shake her head. "I understand, or I am attempting to understand, from my point of view, you would be insulting me by not allowing me to trade. Saying I was too low or unworthy to be allowed to bargain." She took a deep breath and smiled. "So can we agree at least that each way of life makes sense in accordance to our traditions?"

So to bargain is a way of honoring me? This would take some getting used to if I were staying here for a prolonged period of time the engineer realized. "We can definitely agree to that," he replied, matching her smile with one of his own.

"Now on to my bargain." A telltale blush began to stain her cheeks. "I understand you are promised elsewhere, it is not that I intend to ask or interfere with…" Her fingers knit together and began to twist with nerves. "our trades only have the value that we attach to them and…" Her eyes cast down to the floor. "before the test, no ones lips had ever touched mine."

"I doubt it was because no one didn't want to," Javier told the young woman, "your grandfather probably walking-sticked anyone who got close enough to try." He looked down at the deck and scuffed the sole of his boot against it. "I..I'm honored that you attach such value to a kiss from me but," he stuttered, suddenly nervous. "I can't bargain like that, I'm sorry, I kissed you before to give you oxygen. I wanted you to live. I was responsible for you. I can't kiss you and mean for it to be something more..I can't do what you ask." The engineer took the opportunity to look at the young woman's face to see if she understood what he was trying to say.

The color drained from her face. "So I have not the worth to trade."

"No, that's not what I am saying," Javier answered quickly, "you're worth a large amount..you have..are valuable." How do I explain to her that she is not worthless without hurting her feelings? "I don't mean you are not worthy, because you are..just..not to me..no, I mean.." Diplomacy is harder than it seems. The engineer sighed and gave up for the first time that day, inclining his head so that his lips touched Sialuk's briefly. I hope T'Shaini understands my intentions when I relate this story to her.

"Ahh…" Sialuk touched her fingers to her lips as if to seal in the feeling and sighed. "I thank you, I now have a basis for future comparison, a very sound bargain." Then she lifted the other hand palm up. "Done at a kiss."

"A very sound bargain," Javier repeated as he placed his palm over Sialuk's. Having 'bought' medical treatment he moved into the aid station, where the nurse began to examine him, cutting away the remains of the uniform shirt. "I'm going to need some clothes," he told Sialuk, then rephrased his statement as he saw the blush creep into her cheeks again, "I mean I have some stuff I can trade for them..these boots for instance," Javier said pointing at his shoes, "or this knife." He extracted the Dosi ceremonial blade from his pocket. No need to 'bargain' with anything else.

JP by Sialuk (the Venerable TeeBaby) and Javier
Originally Posted 6-24-2008 by Javier Costala


USS Constitution
Sickbay

They were talking about her, Jenny knew. Even though she was turned towards the wall, away from the quiet voices and staring eyes, she knew.

“I need to talk to her,” Jameson was saying.

“An’ I need her to rest,” Matthew Ayre’s highland dialect cut in. “Shock, dehydration, the remains of an unknown sedative… I have no idea how that’s affecting her, plus a concussion and…” he paused, the issues of confidentiality and the necessity of discovering who had harmed his patient at war in his conscience, "there's something more… something quite… odd."

Jameson tore his eyes from Anderson's hunched figure, wrapped in the shapeless hospital gown, "What?"

---

Ben groaned and shook his head while blinking his eyes repeatedly as he tried to wake up. Where the hell am I? the crewman thought as he reached up to … his hands were held back behind him! He blinked again as the conference room came into focus, along with the two Klingon guards and Lieutenant Hillman.

Hillman. The marine officer brought back the memory of Jenny, trembling and pale, as he lifted her out of the box. Then also the thought of the cargobay going dark as he reached for… "You shot me," he said in disbelief, then added in accusation "you stunned me, that's a little harsh. I wasn't going to run away. And Jenny, you could have hurt her." BHP sat up a little straighter then slumped down again as his head began to throb. They shot me with a phaser on full stun? ran through his mind as he winced in pain.

"Technically, Jameson stunned you," not that Darren would have minded, not after seeing this punk with the desperately struggling Anderson. He'd have liked to stay in sickbay, see how the girl was doing but she was Jameson's responsibility so here he was, with Pierce. "And you're lucky that's all he did." He tossed the hypo they'd recovered from the engineer's pocket onto the table in front of the prisoner, "Care to explain what you were planning to do with this? Fake an OD, or maybe just keep Anderson quiet for a while, get her to spill some security codes…?"

"What?" BHP said as he stared at the hypo on the table. "An OD? I don't know what you're talking about." Another throb made the engineer wince and hiss as he felt his body go through the normal reactions to a full stun setting. They had all had it done to them at boot camp just so they would know what it felt like. I don't remember the effects hurting like this though. "What did Jameson do to that phaser? Amp up the discharge?" He remembered seeing the chief cleaning weapons on the first day of his arrival. I told him he was doing it wrong.. Jenny was there too, she had been crying for some reason, later he found out why. "Is Jenny okay? I found her there and.." His head began to throb painfully causing the crewman to hiss again.

"Stay on topic," Hillman advised, his anger with the younger man surging as he played the wounded soldier. I want to bash his face in… what the hell…? "Anderson is no longer any of your concern," behind him he heard Rak'h, or maybe Koll, growl in agreement, "beyond explaining why you were threatening her… and while we're at it, maybe you can tell us where Captain Benjamin is currently located."

-----

“Anderson?”

Jen accepted the inevitable and turned, sitting up, now. She couldn’t quite get herself to look at the CPO, though. His face, like Hillman’s and Bramley’s and… and the memory of Ben’s… kept… changing if she looked too long… morphing into something, someone, she didn’t know but feared, nonetheless.

“Chief?”

Crewman Anderson is displaying textbook behaviors of a rape victim… except she hasn’t been touched… Well, not beyond the concussion, the sedative and the unknown number of hours in a tiny airless crate… Bill remained standing, keeping his distance. “First,” he began, formally, “I’m required to inform you that, having been under unknown control for over eighteen hours, it’s regulations that you be removed from duty until such time as we can verify the events surrounding your incarceration,” let’s get this crap out of the way fast.

“I understand,” she said, whispered, really, “Doesn’t matter.” Nothing mattered. Nothing would ever matter.

----

"I don't know anything about him!" Pierce said, louder than he meant to because the pain in his head was almost as annoying as Hillman's preposterous accusations. "What is this, a 'let's blame everything on Pierce that we can't figure out' interrogation?" he asked the marine officer. "I don't know where Nathan Benjamin is." BHP sighed and lowered his head, so he could press his forehead against the table, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure that was building there. "Jenny didn't understand that I was trying to help her.."

Hillman walked around the table and yanked the crewman up, slamming him back against the chair before leaning in, making sure that Pierce was paying attention, "That's exactly what I'd say, if someone caught me abusing a woman. It's one of the oldest dodges in the book…"

"No," BHP stated, his eyes wide, suddenly understanding why the two Klingons looked like they wanted to eat him alive. "I found her..someone put her in the crate," ignoring what seemed like a vein bursting in his forehead BHP continued, "they were down there, they tried to tip some crates on me. I got loose and found Jenny and lifted her out." His thoughts went back to the whimpering young woman. "She must have thought I was the one who put her in there, come back, I don't know..I wanted to get her to sickbay."

Featuring NPC's Jenny Anderson, Benjamin Hyde Pierce, Darren Hillman and William Jameson
Originally Posted 6-24-2008 by Javier Costala


It really was taking a monumental effort not to beat Pierce bloody. Darren had to walk away from the too-tempting target. "The story we got from the civilian plays out differently. He came down to check his luggage and saw you with that crate. Why were you down there in the first place? Why did you break custody? I'm willing to accept this may not be part of the captain's disappearance but then, what is it? You had a thing for her and she refused? Face it, Pierce, everything about you smells guilty." Of what, Hillman didn't know but, gods, he wanted there to be something. He needed there to be something… why? Why do I feel like this?

Because the punk hurt her, the words slithered through the questions and Darren felt the anger settle more comfortably. He turned back to Pierce, eyes hard, waiting for a reason.

"He's lying!" BHP yelled, "I would never do that!" They just want someone to blame! ****ing Marine. he heard himself think. Pierce felt an overwhelming urge to lunge at Hillman but stopped at that thought. He hadn't cared for the marines but had never been that disapproving of them. They're going to sweep you under the rug. "I left Mellon," Pierce started again in a calmer voice, "to find Jenny, I heard from Cadet Astyr that she was missing. She had been helping look into my..situation, so I was worried about her. I found out that Garcia had been poking around Jenny so I went and asked him about her. He told me when and where he had seen her so I went to look for her. And found her in the crate..is she okay? Can I see her?"


“We found you with Pierce, struggling with Pierce…”

“Ben?” He’d been holding her, helping, comforting… or… or had he been hurting her? “Ben did this? Why? I… I don’t…”

“At ease, crewman,” Bill was aware of the hovering medical staff, waiting for the chance to bump him out, “I don’t want to push but it is important that we know… as much as possible about what happened to you.”

And she knew it was true. The security of the crew came first and whatever had occurred in the cargo bay might be relevant.

“I only wanted to get away,” she said to her hands, where they twisted in the material of her gown. “I was going to the hold to get away from,” who… she’d been hiding, right? From whom? “I wanted to get away… and in the hold, I thought I saw someone moving, then I heard them… him…”

Jameson waited a beat, “Who? Who did you hear?”

But in Jenny’s mind a shadow was growing, sliding under the crack in a door and the shadow was thick enough to choke her…

“Anderson?” Bill stepped closer, something was happening.

“I can’t,” it was getting hard to breathe… she was in the crate again… “I can’t…”

“Jenny, what do you see?

“That’s it,” Ayre was stepping forward, now, “time for you to get some rest, Jenny.”

But Jenny was backing away from the doctor, from all of them, “I see the dark,” she was saying, pulling into herself and away from the creeping malaise, “Just the dark… he’s coming back… Ben… help me, he's coming back…”

“Dammit,” Matthew snapped as he went against his instincts and sedated the girl. As Jenny slid down onto the bunk, eyes drifting closed, he looked at the security officer, “Are you happy, now?”

But Jenny didn’t hear the chief’s reply. All she heard, as the sedative took hold, was the telltale creak of a door opening…


Outside the conference room where Pierce was being grilled, Chuck felt another presence approaching. Good old Chief Jameson, and he was angry enough on his own that the telepath didn't need to enhance the experience. On the other hand, he also didn't need to be seen so close to the interrogation. Time to beat a hasty retreat and let the body parts fall where they may.

Within the room, Darren was a bit thrown by the intensity of the other man's denial. He clearly had feelings for the girl but still… "I think you've seen more than enough of Crewman Anderson," he said. It would be easy enough to check Pierce's story, which was doubtless more productive than doing bodily damage to the engineer. What had he been thinking? "I'll follow up on your whereabouts," he turned towards the door just as it slid aside to reveal Jameson.

"That isn't good enough," Pierce said belligerently, ignoring the new arrival, "the person who hurt her is still out there, and they may try again. You have to make sure she's safe, or I'll escape again and do it myself." He looked at the two Klingons. "You think they can stop me? Both of them together maybe.."

The twins shared an eye roll as Jameson stepped forward, "Son, right now you are on a slippery damned slope," he exchanged a short glance with the marine before looking back to Pierce, "Best thing for you right now is to stay put, keep your trap shut and wait for the Lieutenant here to check your facts. If they pan out, we'll talk again. If not," his thoughts were blacker than pitch as he remembered Jenny's choking terror, 'he's coming back… Ben… help me…', "if not," he leaned in and spoke very quietly, "They'll never find your body."

Featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce, Jenny Anderson, William Jameson and Darren Hillman
Originally Posted 6-24-2008 by Harry Finn


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Bridge ::

The image of a Dosi male filled the viewscreen, his expression dour. He faced off with an equally dour Bajoran who'd become tired of explaining himself after his first run through of events.

"Altern Plallu," he began forcing his tone to remain even. "I've explained why we raised our sheilds and why we are maintaining our distance. I'm not suggesting that it was your people who initiated the transport of our Captain from this vessel," at least not officially, "but it is my greatest concern to keep anyone else from vanishing."

At latest report, Anderson, the security officer, had been located, but in poor condition. That left him little breathing room for letting their guard down.

"Your insult will not be easily overlooked by my people, One Called Torrik," Plallu said for what seemed like the tenth time. "Our peoples are working toward cooperation and your actions accuse us of treachery?"

Nils bit his lip as hard as he could to keep from yelling. With narrow eyes he jumped into the conversation before it could escalate.

"No offense is intended and if you'd be willing to transmit your sensor data regarding the energy surge you observed we can once again…" how to say this, "unite in purpose," very lame, "in order to uncover who has abducted Captain Benjamin. Surely you understand the precautions we've taken."

"I understand why your shields have been raised," the Altern said. "Yet your distance from our station is insulting in the most…"

"Listen," Nils spat, raising a finger towards the screen. "The Constitution will remain in this position until our Captain is back on board and that part of this conversation is over…" The Bajoran drew in a deep cleansing breath. "I would greatly appreciate any data you could share with us regarding the transport… Our own sensors are…antiquated and although I've been over them a number of times I can garner little more than the exact time of his abduction and that he was beamed out of his quarters. Your communications officer indicated you'd detected an energy surge. If you could just share your data with us…"

"It is the way of things that nothing can be got for nothing…"

Sweet Prophets in the Temple, Nils cursed silently as his head fell into his hands.

Originally Posted 6-24-2008 by Torrik Nils


-Dosi Trade Station-

His wounds had been taken care of by the medstation nurse and his hand had been bandaged and the swelling promptly treated. Afterwards he had convinced Sialuk to show him around the station's trade center while he waited for T'Shaini and Jillian to finish their prospective trials. A remark he had made about the painted decoration on Sialuk's features had led to an inquiry into whether he could obtain markings of his own.

"Well, it is unorthodox…" Sialuk's face suddenly brightened. "however, having been the sole adquam, the only one to finish not just three but six trials, I am certain there can be an exception made."

"I wonder what T'Shaini will think of my list of achievements," Javier remarked to Sialuk as she stood beside him. The engineer was quite proud of the painted designs that now covered his face, neck and chest. It adhered to his skin in an almost natural fashion and held in warmth, which was comforting to the shirtless engineer. The designs that had been drawn on his epidermal layer were almost tribal in appearance and Javier couldn't help but admire the artist's handiwork.

The body decoration had only cost the engineer half of his 22nd century tricorder. The other half was given to him in the form of Dosi trading tokens which were flat, blue hexagonal shaped stones with a hole in their middle. Sialuk had provided him with a piece of string, on which he threaded the tokens. He wiped a hand over his chest and was pleased to see that the paint didn't smear upon contact. "Uh..how do I wash this off.." he started to ask Sialuk but was knocked to the ground as a man ran into him.

"Look where you're going!" the person said, then disappeared into the crowd, slipping out of sight before Javier could stand up and grab the guy.

"Polite wasn't he?" the engineer stated as he stood up. He searched the crowd for the man but it was almost as if he had disappeared into thin air.

=/\=Crew of the USS Constitution..=/\= his pocket suddenly squawked causing Javier to look down in surprise then slip his hand inside to retrieve the recording device the rude pedestrian had stuck there. =/\=..than Benjamin will be returned to you upon completion of the Regatta. Any attempt to leave the race or divert your course will result in his untimely death. We have him. He is unharmed, for now, follow your normal course and he will be released unharmed. We are watching you. You have an hour in which to resume the race, or your captain will suffer the consequences of your hesitation.=/\=

"Sialuk, I have to contact my ship," Javier said, "Where can I do that from here?"

"I can take you to a communication console but…"

"Nothing is got for nothing. " T'Shaini finished. No matter how well she knew all she had experienced was part of the trial, she found herself reaching out to touch Javier to assure herself that he was truly here…then hesitated lest she mar the body paint. Looking over his shoulder at the beaming young Dosi and then back at the body paint, the Vulcan raised one eyebrow. "Anything you feel the need to inform me of??

"At this moment," Javier replied, noticing where T'Shaini was looking, "only this." He showed her the device he had been slipped then played her the message that was on the piece of technology. "I think we need to get in contact with the ship," he said once the message was finished.

A frown creased her brow. "Indeed, do we have anything to trade for communication with the Constitution?"

"Tricorders, communicators, phasers…your dress," Javier suggested as he turned to Sialuk and said, "Would you like to have her dress Sialuk? It's very cute and you'd be the only one with that particular style."

Seeing Sialuk cock her head to the side considering the bargain T'Shaini's eyes widened. "It is imperative for us to contact Nils, but I have nothing to replace my uniform if I trade it." She whispered to Javier.

"It's for diplomacy," Javier whispered back, even as he pictured her without the uniform. Very nice. "And I have some trade items so you can get Dosi garmets. Also since it is the only dress of its kind here, we could probably get more than the value of a message out of it." The engineer winked at T'Shaini. "I missed you," he whispered before leaning in to kiss her.

T'Shaini kept her face close to his once the kiss was broken. "I have missed…" There was a hitch in her voice as all the futures without him in it replayed in her head. "I am so grateful…" Resting one hand on his cheek she leaned in for a longer kiss. "So grateful, I will explain later."

There was a pang in her heart as Sialuk watched her human reconvene with his partner, it was not as if she did not know, but somehow it was different than knowing. Then she smiled slightly and let out a sigh. Someday, Triad willing, one who regards me with worth will be found.

He knew then that T'Shaini's trials must have been every bit as stressful as his own. His fingers softly traced the outline of her earlobe as Javier kissed T'Shaini deeply, pulling her into an embrace so that when his lips left hers he could still hold her. "I finished six trials," he told her, "I think I'm something of a legend to the Dosi now…but legends don't get free drinks here."

"If I may suggest," Tingenek, who had been waiting quietly and observing, stepped forward, "your party would best be served by taking a shuttle to the Constitution, though," he looked over the pair present and, even adding the two guardians and the doctor, his estimation of their combined wealth did not seem enough, "payment may be difficult."

"Nonsense!" Qaniit huffed, as he shuffled into the conversation from where he'd been lurking behind the taller Dosi, "I own a shuttle… and Costala," he nodded towards the Starfleet officer, "our bargain was unequal. It seems the Pin'Toka'Rinel wanted to test the testers… thought I'd go soft because my apprentice was the Timekeeper… and altered the program. That is how the doors failed, at the fifth knot." He thumped his stick on the decking, "They have rendered our bargain moot, unless you would accept transport to your vessel as the balance due."

"I would accept a ride for myself and the others with possession of the won beacon included as compensation for the.." Javier paused in his counter-offer as trade language failed him, "for the flim-flaming of the original bargain." He looked down at the deck and frowned. "It would be shameful if word got out that the Dosi broke the deal after palms were met in agreement."

Qaniit grinned, (not a pretty sight) then held out his palm again but, as Javier reached over the re-seal the bargain, bopped the unsuspecting engineer on the noggin with the ever-present walking stick. "That," he said, still smiling, "is for attempting to fright me with tale-telling," he leaned forward, "Do not try to play the Master Speaker with me, boy… you're not ready." Then straightening he gestured towards the nearest conveyance, "Shall we gather your party?"

JP with all us station-stranded folk.
Originally Posted 6-25-2008 by Javier Costala


Dosi Station

Filtered through the acrid smoke, Chirell's voice sounded like it was coming from far away, "Iryn, try to contact shuttle control," her body felt like dead weight to Jillian but still, the voice was commanding. "Extinguisher… below the left bench…" Raising her wrist, the Speaker activated her personal com, "This is Chirell to Kalnak," trying to reach the shuttle's pilot, "Kalnak, please respond."

The only sound to return was static. As Jillian helped Chirell to the floor so she could reach for the indicated fire extinguisher, the dour Iryn was having only slightly better luck.

=/\=Shuttle contr… explosion in the bay… trance… shields… containm…. resc… elayed… three… hours…=/\=

The communications gave out after that.

"That can't be good," Jillian said as she extinguished the few small flare-ups. Unfortunately, the lack of fire did nothing to improve the general state of the atmosphere. "I have the worst luck on shuttles," she muttered, returning to look at Chirell's leg.

"The scrubbers are malfunctioning," Iryn said, slumping against the hatch. "The air is tainted now… with three of us using what is left and three hours to even the hope of rescue," he shook his head, "they'll find nothing but corpses."

Chirell looked at him and the two seemed to reach an agreement. She held out her palm, "We let the non-aligned decide?" she suggested.

Non-aligned? Jillian looked up from the mess of the Speaker's leg, wondering.

Iryn reached out from where he leaned, one arm pressed against his own wound, "We let her decide," he agreed placing his palm over hers.

"Done," she said as the two looked to Jillian.

"Done?" she asked, suddenly unnerved beyond belief. As if it weren't bad enough to be on another ruined shuttle with no hope of salvation… "what… what's done? What are you…?"

"It is for you, who are tribeless and therefore unbiased to decide if I, the Speaker of the Kor'Fletug or Iryn, guardian and warrior of our tribe, shall die, that the two remaining shall have the better chance of survival."


Three and a half hours later, walking out of the holodeck, Jillian was met by a representative of the Dosi who informed her that she had performed well in her test and thereby earned her share of the beacon and would she please proceed with all haste to shuttle command (the real shuttle command) to join the rest of her party… apparently it was necessary to return to the Constitution with some haste.

Silently the doctor accepted the news and, with a face gone pale and still, went to rejoin her crew.

Posted on behalf of Jillian Munro
Originally Posted 6-25-2008 by Harry Finn


USS Constitution
Civilian Guest Quarters

If the communications were online I could send this out tonight and by tomorrow I..my readers would be vindicated..enlightened even, Garcia thought as his fingers flew over the keys on his private console. After his severe beating by Crewman Pierce, Garcia had sought medical attention then immediately returned to his quarters to complete his expose on the new levels of cruelty that StarFleet officers employed on a daily basis. 'Of course this reporter is not surprised that an engineer from the USS Hawking's crew would employ such..' malevolent..? diabolical? fiendish? 'nefarious methods to try and silence the truth,' Garcia stated as he typed. 'Crewman Pierce is but a pawn..lackey to the Chief Engineer, a most unsavory character, who has threatened the reporter on more than one occasion…'

The door chime sounded, causing Chris to frown at the unwanted interuption. He started to ignore the chime but it continued to sound almost as if someone were leaning on the outer panel. He stood to his feet and approached the door, intent on seeing who was being a bloody nuisance but stopped short when he remembered that it might be Pierce, come back to question him again.

"Who is it?" he queried, depressing the area on the door panel that activated the commspeaker.

"Lieutenant Hillman," he hoped his voice didn't sound as annoyed as he felt. "I need a moment of your time, if you don't mind." If you do mind, I guess I'll just have to rip out the door's circuits…

The marine officer and race observer, Chris thought, what does he want? "I'm sort of busy right now, what is it that you want?" Garcia inquired.

"I need to speak with you about a matter which may impact on the Constitution's security." Hillman had spoken to reporters, a time or two in his past and part of what he'd learned was to talk without actually saying anything.

Maybe he has something I can use, if not I still have my story to write, Garcia thought then pressed the entry codes into the panel. The door slid open to reveal Hillman. "Come in Lieutenant," Garcia said, motioning with his hand to the small lounge area. Once the door had closed behind the race observer, he spoke, "So what is this security problem?"

Hillman put on a casual smile, "I don't believe I said there was a problem," the reporter wasted no time in rewriting history, he noted, "I only wished to verify the movements of Crewman Pierce; he indicated that the two of you spoke, earlier."

"Pierce you say? The name is almost familiar," Garcia tapped the end of his nose with a fingertip, a movement he made to give the appearance he was contemplating the topic of discussion. This time he immediately stopped because the movement hurt his sore beak. "I talk to a lot of people during the day, interviews and exclusives, that sort of thing. What would this Pierce want to speak to me about?" Garcia asked, fishing for whatever it was Hillman was being purposely evasive about.

"He would be the one who was looking for Crewman Anderson," Darren replied, unwilling to waste time fencing with Garcia. "All I need to know is if he did speak to you about her and, if so, when that discussion occurred?"

"Oh yes, Crewman Pierce, engineer, medium height, how could I forget him, he was quite furious when I related the details surrounding the captain's relationship with Crewman Anderson," Garcia mentioned. This is why you don't abuse purveyors of the truth Mister Pierce. the reporter thought before launching into his story. "I was writing a piece on relationships within the Fleet, how people cope with the loneliness of starship life. Captain Benjamin had suggested I write about he and Ms. Anderson and other couples on the ship, like Chief Costala and the ship's Counselor." Garcia sighed and shook his head. "I think Pierce is obsessed with Crewman Anderson, he came here about an hour ago, demanding that I tell him everything I know about her relationship to Captain Benjamin." The reporter shrugged and said, "Of course I can't release that sort of information to everyone..when I refused Pierce threatened me, he even struck me." Garcia fidgeted, just like he might if he were really nervous. "I told him Anderson was not interested in him and that if he didn't leave I would call security…he left in a rage."

Now, Darren, thought, here's Garcia, giving you everything you could want, motive-wise, to hang Pierce up by his privates. Certainly the engineer had displayed an intense interest in the young woman, in her well-being he reminded himself while also accepting that often enough, affection had been known to take a bad turn. At the same time, no way could the marine feature Captain Nathan Benjamin giving this toad permission to delve into his personal life, much less that of his crew. And Benjamin isn't here to ask…

"Could you be a little more specific?" he asked, listening to the right hand of doubt that he recognized from years in the field… the same right hand that nudged him when his squad was about to walk into an ambush… "And when I say specific I mean, what would you be willing to testify before a court and not be at risk of perjuring yourself?"

"Pierce was furious, he..he injured me while demanding to know about Miss Anderson's whereabouts at a certain time," Garcia told the marine, changing the story to blanket any misleading information he might have given in his first account. "He also threatened me because I was writing a story about the captain and the crewman. I think he's a little unbalanced, and yes I will testify to that," the reporter stated.

"And what were her whereabouts… and what was the time?" Hillman stuck with the facts. He'd leave Pierce's state of mind to a more qualified judge.

"The turbolift, after she had left Pierce's quarters…" Garcia answered snottily before realizing that he had given himself away. "I wanted to..I wanted a statement from her..for my article. She seemed to be frightened." Frightened, yes after speaking to Pierce the madman. "She refused to comment and I got off the lift while she continued to deck seventeen. I told Pierce as much..out of fear of bodily injury."

Crap. Given what Jameson had reported of Jenny's behavior in sickbay, this didn't look good for Pierce. She said she'd been trying to get away from someone… Had that someone been Pierce or the reporter himself? (Understandable, as Darren himself could barely stand the smarmy journalist's presence.) Or was there another player?

There was only one person who could answer that question, and she was heavily sedated for the time being. "Thank you for your time," he said, moving towards the door, the sooner to get away from Garcia. As the door opened he turned back, "You might want to think about putting your energies into reporting some real news," he suggested with a slightly feral smile, "these puff pieces so often lead to nothing but trouble."

"No one reports news anymore Lieutenant," Garcia replied in a dismissive tone, "now we make it." He started to turn away then stopped and said in mock surprise, "Wait..marines can read?" The reporter roared at his own joke.

"I've been known to glance at the printed word, now and again," Hillman replied, seemingly undisturbed, "In fact, I recall reading something one of your predecessors once said: 'To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful'." And, with the words of Mr. Edward R. Murrow hanging in the air behind him, the officer left the room.

Costala = Garcia; Finn = Hillman
Originally Posted 6-25-2008 by Harry Finn


"I'm old, not blind!" the ornery voice of Qaniit filtered through to the passenger area of the packed shuttle. "Either keep your opinions to yourself or join the rest of the passengers…"

"Yes but, I'm almost sure that control stabilizes the…" *THUMP* "Ow!" David Quincy exclaimed as his hand felt the wrath of Qaniit's staff.

With an internal wince for poor David, T'Shaini leaned over to whisper in Javier's ear. "I wonder if they require a license for these on Reldaran." At his answering smile she leaned closer to drop a kiss on his cheek.

Tingenek almost stepped away from the small, intimate moment but, even with the old Speaker of the Kor-Bluton piloting, the voyage would be short and there was still a need to speak to the soul-guardian. "Lieutenant," he stepped closer to the seated pair, and very much a pair they were, he could see, "if I may have a word?"

With a squeeze to Javier's hand, she nodded and rose to follow the Dosi. "What could I do for you?"

Finding a small space near the bulkhead, the Speaker turned to the Vulcan, "More, it is what I believe I must do for you," he looked to the other occupants of the shuttle, noting the battered weariness of Costala, the sad stillness of Munro, "what I believe all of the tribes must do for you," he amended. "You underwent these trials to earn your beacon and that my people could learn what type of beings make up your Federation. Already, I can say without even holding council, that your hearts, minds and spirits are… unique from much of what we knew as part of the Dominion's rule."

A warm smile spread across the Counselor's face. "I am glad that no matter the difficulties that were encountered, by acquitting ourselves well, we have hopefully furthered relations between the Dosi and the Federation."

"A hope we both share," knowing that, even with the success of the trials there would be long debate ahead. "However, as with Qaniit, I feel I am left owing in this trade. Even by Dosi standards, I received more than was my due. I would rectify that, lest I consider myself s'lysta… one who gains falsely," he interpreted.

Not at all what I was expecting. The Vulcan folded her hands and raised one eyebrow. "What do you have to offer to rectify that?"

"These," and saying so he held out a small container which, when he lifted the lid, revealed the two devices he'd used to create a telepathic bond with T'Shaini.

She took an involuntary step backwards. "Those?"

Understanding, he still held out the box, "Yes… soul guardian… these. Think of them not as a means to pry into the private places but more as a way of bringing light to the darkness. This, in the correct hands, they can do." Closing the lid he took her resisting hand and placed the container in her palm, "Perhaps you will never have need of them.. indeed I hope you do not but, just in case…"

She laid her hand on top of his. He was correct, never having use for them is what T'Shaini would wish for, but what if a situation arose where she needed such a device and knew that it had been left behind. "I accept."

"Done," he completed the ritual as her fingers closed around the box. At that moment a sudden jerking of the shuttle almost sent the two flying. "I think, perhaps, we are approaching the Constitution?"

"OW!" Quincy's voice, again resounded through the cabin.

"I warned you, did I not!" Qaniit had achieved new heights of dudgeon, it appeared, "Tractor us in, indeed! I'll show you tractoring…"

T'Shaini clasped her hand on Tingenek's shoulder on her way back to sit with Javier. "Have a good trip home."

JP Tee and the Gang (by Finnface)
Originally Posted 6-25-2008 by T'Shaini


USS Constitution
Corridor - Deck 7

“The timing’s off,” Bill was saying as he and Darren traversed the corridor. He was on his way to make a report to Lieutenant Torrik and Hillman was running down the low points of the meeting with Garcia. “Anderson went off the grid while Pierce was still in custody.”

Hillman paced alongside, hands locked behind his back, “If we assume that whomever originally assaulted her is working alone, that clears Pierce of her abduction. And if that person, still unknown, is operating on his own…”

“Is he the same one responsible for the captain’s disappearance?” Jameson finished the thought. “From my take, the odds are favorable that’s the case.” They reached the ‘lift and paused, both considering angles. “I don’t see two snatches in the same vessel within hours of each other and having them unrelated.”

Nodding and leaning against the wall, Darren chewed over the idea, “So maybe Jen… Anderson, going down to the hold for whatever reason,” she seemed to be frightened, “stumbles onto something she shouldn’t, ends up incapacitated…” and shoved into a crate. He felt every muscle go tense with anger. A second scan of the area had shown the crate to be small, soundproof and air tight. The young woman could easily have died in the cargo bay of the Constitution and no one would ever have known.

“Cue Pierce, learning the object of his affections has gone missing…” Jameson cut in. “Ditches Mellon, follows up on her movements and, whether Garcia’s claims of obsession are valid or not, if he hadn’t gone looking…”

“I know.” Hillman let out a slow breath, “So tell me why I can’t even think of the kid without wanting to rearrange his features.”

““Yeah, well, maybe you should steer clear of him for now. He's in lockdown and I can guarantee Rak'h and Koll aren't going to…”

=/\=Jezeera to Jameson=/\=

Bill drew his communicator, =/\=Jameson, go ahead=/\=

=/\=Be advised, a Dosi shuttle bearing the away team and recovered beacon is approaching. Shields will be dropped for shuttle entrance and egress.=/\=

=/\=Won’t that be a ***ing party?=/\= Not that he believed anyone else was going to be poofed… his guts told him Captain Benjamin had been the goal and Anderson had been a target of opportunity.

=/\=Say again?=/\=

Bill sighed, =/\=Shields dropped, copy that… do you have an ETA?=/\=

=/\=ETA in 22… sorry… make that 10…=/\= there was a clicking out and then back =/\= or possibly 18 minutes… there seems to be some fluctuating in the vessel’s speed.=/\=

Darren almost smiled. “Who’s flying that thing, my grandmother?”

=/\=Bridge, Jameson… I’ll report to shuttle bay ASAP, please advise Lieutenant Torrik of same. Lieutenant Hillman will accompany. =/\=

During the short pause, Hillman pressed the call pad for the turbolift.

Jezeera’s voice came back. =/\=Lieutenant Torrik advised, requests that yourself and Lieutenant Tenanji report to the bridge upon safe docking=/\=

=/\=Aye to that, Jameson out.=/\=

The ‘lift arrived and the two boarded. “What kind of tests do you think were involved?” the race observer wondered, more to get his mind off pounding a certain engineer to a pulp then actual curiosity.

Bill didn’t comment. His thoughts were back in sickbay and the broken girl who slept there. He’d get Tenanji to the XO but first, he was making damned sure that T’Shaini knew she was needed, and by whom.

Featuring NPC's William Jameson and Darren Hillman
Originally Posted 6-26-2008 by Harry Finn


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Bridge ::

For the first time since coming on board the Starship, Chuck felt like the plan may be falling apart. The hum of the turbolift sounded like the moan of death as it drew him up toward the bridge. Despite his inate abilities, he could read nothing of interest from the security detail escorting him to the ship's command center. Clearly they were just following orders.

Having just scraped by when Anderson was discovered, he knew his time was limited. Eventually two and two would reach it's inevitable amalgamation at four and the accusing fingers that landed on the love sick Pierce would be looking for someone else to land on. He hadn't anticipated his diversion to fail so quickly however.

As the door's parted, a scene of reserved chaos greeted the Betazoid. The level of stifled emotion made the man swoon. This was the place for a fix. It felt to Chuck as if the bridge were a glassy surfaced lake bearing beneath it a cauldron of bubbling fire. The swirling anxiety and focus almost made him almost giggle with glee.

"I'm Lt. Torrik Nils," the youngish man at the center of the storm said as he approached quickly. His hard glare gave away nothing, and the cacophony of emotional tension lurking behind his steel eyes did nothing to reveal the Bajoran's purpose. The read was off the charts, but it was so jumbled that Chuck couldn't make heads or tails of it.

"Hey, I'm Chuck," the Betazoid said with a smile and an innocent gesture. No need to play any cards until he knew he had to.

"I understand you're a salesman," the first officer said sharply with no preamble.

"Was…" Though his outer shell was unchanging, he breathed an internal sigh of relief. They'd discovered nothing. The story he'd been feeding people around the ship seemed to be sticking. "I recently changed professions. I could get you quite a deal on a condo on Risa!"

"I need you to speak with the Dosi's station representative," Lt. Torrik said, ignoring the man's offer. "It is my assumption that navigating an exchange like this would be more suited to someone with a salesman skills, thus your presence on the bridge." Changing tacks, but without slowing the Lt. held up a PADD and thrust it towards Chuck's sausage like fingers. "I've put together a manifest of our resources on hand aboard the ship, and what I want is their sensor data regarding an energy surge which occurred in nearby space. The information is considered classified, so your discretion will be…"

"Lietentant," cut in Jezeera from a station immediately to Chuck's right. "I've informed Jameson of the Dosi shuttle's arrival and the shield transfer. He and Hillman are reporting to the shuttlebay as soon as possible."

"Understood," Lt. Torrik said with a nod. "I want Jameson and Tenanji on the bridge as soon as that shuttle docks." With a nod Jezeera went back to work, and the Bajoran First Officer continued on his previous course. "I'm not accustomed to dealing in… financial exchange… I would appreciate your experience in conducting negotiations with the station."

Chuck chuckled. "I'd be glad to! I spent four years settling exchange disputes between the Ferengi and the Breen Confederacy. This should be a peice of cake…as the humans say." His easy nature did not reveal the inner jubilation over the opportunity fate had set in his lap. It would take no effort to turn these negotiations sour. The Lieutenant could kiss his "energy surge" goodbye.

A moment of hesitation crossed the Bajoran's face and Chuck thought his luck went bad. He could sense the turmoil twisting just beneath the surface of the focussed look on Torrik's face. The Betazoid consumed that turmoil, allowed it to feed his own resolve. "After all," he said from the corner of his smiling mouth, "once you've dealt with the Ferengi, the Dosi should be a breeze."

A wave a shocked delight rolled off the vessel's current officer in command. Although no one else in the room likely noticed any alteration, the change took Chuck by complete surprise. The insides of this Bajoran did not match his outsides.

"Jezeera," Torrik called to the Denobulan female with none of his feelings coloring his tone. In fact, the seething hiss portrayed the opposite. "Tell me Dahrk came along for this ride."

With the push of a few buttons the Operations officer turned Communications, turned with a smile. "He is listed as being aboard as a civilian passenger, sir."

With a tight nod, Lt. Torrik spun back to the center seat. "Get him up here immediately." And without missing a beat. "I apologize for taking up some of your time, 'Chuck', but it seems we won't be needing your services after all. Thank you for reminding me of the Ferengi propensity toward negotiation."

[i]No no no…you arrogant asshole. You f*^#ing basketcase.[i] "Hey least I could do," said the chuckling fat man. "If you'd like I can stay up here and be his wing man. Always better playing two on one, if you know what I mean."

"Agreed," the Lieutenant said without turning around. "I'd like as much help as possible."

Chuck smiled and nodded and backed into a corner. The more quickly they forgot he was around the better. Now he had to figure out the best way to screw up these negotiations without tipping his hand to a meddlesome Ferengi…

Originally Posted 6-27-2008 by Torrik Nils


//”I don't see why, since Harry's situation didn't work out, that we have to give up. Unless you're just looking for the most convenient reason." He deposited himself back into the chair, the realization of what Jenny was telling him starting to cement itself.

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

But before Jen could even think of taking a step, a hand grabbed her shoulder and slammed the girl into the wall.

“You don’t walk out on me.”

Blinking back pain-inspired tears she remembered, too late, Nate’s Borg enhanced strength, “I… wasn’t…”

“You were,” he accused, easily holding her in place, “you’ve been walking out on me since we met and I’m over it.” The whining, sarcastic voice which was nothing like Nate’s grated in her ears as he closed in, a hand fisting in the collar of her uniform, "Resistance is futile…”//

Jen’s eyes snapped open. “Nate?” the name came out on a frightened breath as she struggled against phantom hands which weren’t in fact, phantom at all…

"Hey, hey there,” Bramley’s southern-grown baritone broke through the remaining wisps of the dream, “you’re safe now, Jenny, no one can hurt you, here.” He waited until the girl forced herself to relax before he released his grip.

“He can,” she whispered, He did. But no, you hurt him, first. Jenny had to turn away from the medic's too-kind eyes as the nightmare receded, called back to its hiding place and leaving no memory beyond the scum of its passage over her soul.

Joe frowned, did she think the Captain had done this to her? “Jenny,” he began uneasily; someone had to tell her, “Captain Benjamin… he’s not on the ship…” and accepting his role as the bearer of crappy news, Bramley explained the mysterious loss of the young captain, the previous evening.

When the girl said nothing, only remained still and curled in on herself, he cleared his throat, “Is there… ah, anything I can do… for you?” Crap! Where was his famous bedside manner when he really needed it?

You can make this not have happened, she thought. “No,” she said and then waited, barely breathing, until she heard Bramley's quiet retreat.

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 6-27-2008 by Harry Finn


The Megiddo Regatta - Yesteryear

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