Part I

This portion of the story features the following NPCs:
Sevigny-1.jpg - William Savigny
Koz1.png - Koz Rotaran

And a Special Guest Appearance by:

-Cargobay 2-
-USS Hawking-
-Two Days After the Race's End-

His small sensors showed that objects were moving around him. But the objects either were ignoring him or Sigma was malfunctioning. The beacon ran a series of diagnostic tests but came to the same conclusion that he had reached the first twenty diagnostic tests. <>I am not malfunctioning.<> The beacon sent out a burst of code. <>Hel-lo? Is anyone out there?<>

No one answered him. He tried to fire his stabilizing thrusters again but they had gone offline many hours before after he had met the Constitution. He sighed in a scraggle of code. <>Can anyone hear me?<> He blinked his signalling lights.

*Tic toc, tic toc, tic toc.*

"It does that every few minutes Chief," the cargobay attendant was explaining to Javier. "I was thinking that maybe it's malfunctioning, in which case I called you to have a look at it. I wouldn't want it explode and injure anyone."

"I'll have a look at it then," Javier said as he approached the small Class One beacon. "How did it get here?"

"When we initiated transport to get everyone off the Constitution, it came over too," the Bajoran said with a shrug of his shoulders. "Must have been a transporter malfunction."

"Must have been," Javier agreed as he knelt down beside the beacon.

"I heard you jumped out into space while trying to retrieve one of these," the cargobay operator said, "near a gas giant.."

"That's what I've been told," the Chief Engineer replied as he turned to look at the other man. "The problem is..I don't remember it." Javier frowned slightly and turned back to the beacon. "The day before yesterday is a bit of a blur, other than that, the last thing I remember is being drunk at the regatta start-off bash and getting punched in the head by a large Klingon." He activated his tricorder and swept it over the beacon. His thoughts went back to the little girl that had charged across sickbay to envelope him in a hug. As she clung to his neck, Javier had remembered. She was Lia, his daughter. And the woman by his side was T'Shaini, his love and partner. Lia and Eli hooted as Javier had kissed the counselor in greeting, rememberance and gratitude for being at his side. Mustapha and Katie Ibrahim were present. Mustapha, the tall African man and his Assistant Chief on the Hawking..How could I forget that?..and Katie, Lia's teacher and the one who had cared for her while Javier was away.

There had also been the less than pleasant run-in with some ancient librarian who reminded him that he had no idea what a significant loss the Constitution had been. Javier had agreed with the older woman just so he could leave her presence as soon as possible. He started to take the plate off of the back of the beacon so he could check the beacon's inner mechanisms…


"Yeow!" Javier shrieked as an electric current shocked him.

<>Stop. Desist. You do not have the clearance to access my systems. That information is private.<> Siggy signalled.

"I got a little playback in the systems," the engineer said as he backed away from the beacon, rubbing his sore fingers. The lights on the beacon were blinking faster now. "Computer raise a level two forcefield around the Class One beacon please," Javier asked the ship's computer, concerned by the beacon's response to attempted maintenance.

=<>=Forcefield in place Sparks.=<>= the ship's computer answered in its feminine persona as blue light surrounded the beacon.

"Scan the beacon for explosive devices or hostile code," Javier stated. He waited. The computer took her time. She and the beacon were still on introductions.

Originally Posted 7-18-2008 by Javier Costala

.: Captain's Ready Room | USS Hawking :.

The words jumbled together as they left the admiral's mouth. Apologies, reasons, and orders all came together in a chaotic kind of swirl. The end result of which was that the Hawking, his home for the past year and more than a half was being taken from him. After the white haired man on the small screen on what used to be his desk had informed him of that, nothing else seemed to really count for much.

"….. and we'll need you to…"

"I want to resign my commission." He heard himself say in not much more than a whisper.

The admiral stopped mid sentence. The look on his face gave the shell shocked teen the impression that he hadn't expected that, nor was it something that he'd wanted to hear. "Now captain…"

"It's Nathan." he said, bringing a hand still wrapped in sterile white dermal repairing gauze to the faux collar on his shirt. "Effective right now." Irony. Just some twenty four hours prior, and then some forty eight prior to that he'd reminded his captors and then a certain british curator quite assertively that he was in a fact a starfleet captain. But as his fingers clumbsily picked the tiny pips off his shirt, he almost laughed. It was a perfect example of the topsy turvy nature his life had taken on since he'd taken over the Hawking. There'd been some incredible highs. But they were followed in almost every case by gut wrenching circumstances. First contact on Drenal. That was supposed to set the tone for Hawking's great mission exploring the vast unknown of the Gamma quadrant. Instead he found himself face to face with the Borg. The Drenali would likely never fully recover from it.

Then there was the Sentinel. Followed by the Zombie planet, followed by a saboteur… followed by this Race and then what? If he kept wearing the uniform, kept up with what was getting to be a series of catastrophes with himself at the center, what then? Would more people get hurt? Would he eventually have been replaced? Apparantly the answer was yes. But he didn't want another job. He knew when he opened his eyes in sickbay and looked across the room at Joe Bramley. Nathan Benjamin had seen enough people on sickbay beds and morgue slabs. "What if I'd done this? What if I'd made a different decision?" Those questions were his constant companions. Faces of their consequences were seared to the backs of his eyelids. If the admiral hadn't called, the young former captain would have called him. That decision was made before he left the sickbay.

If shock were a mask, Admiral what's is'name could win a halloween contest with it. The white haired beauracrat sighed heavily before nodding. "Well Nathan I… I hate to lose you. You know there are so many other ways that you can serve…"

"I'm going home admiral." Nathan explained heavily. "I'm done with it." It felt good to say it again. It almost made him want to smile. It was as though every time he said it, more weight was lifted from his sagging shoulders. It became more real.

"You're leaving?" Jenny, who'd come in quickly without even waiting for an invite because, if she'd paused even that long, she'd have turned and run from the bridge. Entering in time to hear the end of Nate's conversation, she wished she had. Now, as his eyes turned to her, she panicked and looked down to the package she was holding. "Why… I mean… when… how?"

"Now." Nathan replied, forgetting the admiral on the screen. "As soon as I can pack and find a transport home." The words came easy. As though he'd been waiting to say them for a long time. Perhaps he had. The look on her face told him that those weren't exactly the words she wanted to hear. A tinge of regret found it's way into the burgeoning sense of relief that had up until that point been ready to engulf the teen completely. Only for her though. The decision was one hundred percent. There was no regret there. But she'd get over it. Probably be better for it too. She could have a normal existence.

"I made you something," she said, still to the package. "It's not… I don't know if you'll ever be able to use it…" she rushed forward, dropped the item on the desk and backed off, quickly. No blame to him if he didn't want to see her.. they'd parted badly… so badly… and then he'd been taken and everything had fallen apart. "I should have stayed… at the dinner," she said, though it was pointless now. "You deserved better and…" but there if she had, would that memory have been tainted, too? "Are you… are you being forced out? Is there anything…"

"I want to leave." Nathan answered, sitting back up on his desk. "And they want me to step down." He absently reached over to the com panel, hearing the admiral clearing his throat. The man's face disappeared, replaced by the Federation emblem. "I can't stay here Jenny." he offered. "It's like you said before. What will happen if I stay?"

"I don't know," she replied, realizing she was talking to the carpet. Sighing, she looked up, "I don't know… how to even be in the world now. I hope this is good for you…" she held his eyes though inside her inner ear she could hear the words of not-Nathan hissing at her, "You've earned some happy," she said, maybe a bit louder than necessary to drown out the echoes.

"Everyone deserves some happy." He nodded. "But I don't think I've earned anything. I just know that this… that I'm not here anymore." He pointed, first to his chest, and then to his head. "Here, or here." He finished. "I just woke up yesterday, and saw what had happened you know. And what if that had been someone else, and not me? Bramley would be ok. There wouldn't be a boatload of Borg running around god knows where. So I'm done." He repeated. "I don't want to be the cause of anymore people getting hurt or dying."

"You were never the cause," she stepped up at that, "the effect, maybe. Chuc… the agent was the cause, then the people on that ship… I'm not saying don't follow your heart," Jenny said quickly, "just, don't carry more responsibility than you're due."

"I was the captain." He replied almost in a whisper. "It was my responsibility."

There wasn't really much she could say to that.

*Joint post with the former GF (Played by the awesome Harold J Finn.. esquire)*
Originally Posted 7-20-2008 by Nathan Benjamin

An hour and a half of intense physical practice had finally brought the Vulcan to a state where, for the first time in a long time, she felt she could sit. Knowing she would be unable to help anyone else until she centered herself, as soon as Javier had taken Lia to school and headed for engineering T'Shaini secreted herself in Holodeck 2, wanting the security of solitude that the gym could not offer her.

Folding her legs beneath her, the counselor began with a simple pranayama, regulating her breathing so that she could then move deeper. Slowly, ever so slowly, the world around her began to fall away…or rather open up. As frequently happened instead of dropping deeper within, her awareness spread and heightened. The rise and fall of her own chest, a faint footfall from beyond the room, the almost imperceptible hum of the working of the starship. All served to make her more aware, focused, and at ease.

Now prepared, she let the events of the last few missions one by one take the focus where she could observe them, acknowledge their weight and effect on her and, with love, let them go. Not that she could forget, or that it would even be wise to try, but she knew that until she made peace with the memories, they would continue to intrude instead of inform. So she freshly remembered the fear of losing Javier when with the Dosi, followed by the more tangible fear of his loss of memory. T'Shaini prayed for Harry and thanked him again for finding her in the alley of the station, further back she embraced the horror of the surge of rage protecting Lia and Javier and took that for what it was and released it. Finally she once again bid goodbye to those once loved, to Dana and most importantly to Vanona.

Cleansing tears of release streaked down her face as T'Shaini's breath began to deepen and waken her. Her eyes opened to take in the simplicity of the holodeck scene she had chosen, a bare wooden floor surrounded by greenery, the freshness of the colors a joy for her newly awakened senses. Wiping her face, T'Shaini rose, renewed. A surge of energy swept through her, and jumping to her feet she strode toward the door to shower and…and….shore leave.


I finally feel equipped and everyone is gone…

Ending the program T'Shaini smiled. She should, perhaps, have chosen somewhere else, it seemed as if she would be spending quite a bit of time here soon enough.

A treehouse, only Javier would think to spend shore leave in a treehouse.

Originally Posted 7-20-2008 by T'Shaini

.: Captain's Ready room | U.S.S. Hawking :.

When the awkward pause began to reach epic chasm, Jen took a deep breath and jumped across the silence, "On the plus side, you'll be able to actually see a baseball game… in real time, even!"

Try though he might, Nathan couldn't suppress a grin at the girl's attempt to spin some sort of positive out of the whole thing. Baseball, among a host of other things he hadn't been able to do for the past three and a half years was one of the things that had made his decision easier. "Which means…" He began, standing up, "That you'll have to take some shore leave and come to Cestus to catch one with me."

"Do they do peanuts at the park on Cestus?" she grinned back then remembered something.., "Ah, hey, does it ever get cold? Cestus, I mean, well… oh, hell, just open your present… um, please?"

Her former CO slash boyfriend turned around, having forgotten the package she'd brought in entirely. Picking it up now, he hefted it up and looked it over. " I don't know about all the parks…" he said while fumbling with the box's wrapping. "But the one in Pike City does." He finally managed to pry it open, revealing a blue garment. Pulling it slowly out of the box he realized that Jenny had gotten him a scarf. It was a good gift. Because he didn't have one, and because it did in fact get bitterly cold on Cestus III in the winters. In Pike City and the outlying Provinces at any rate.

"Thanks." he said, a bit of the old familiar awkwardness returning to him as he ran the scarf through his hands, admiring it. "It's awesome."

Watching him holding the scarf, Jen felt the unfortunate prick of tears, "I'm so glad you like it," she confessed, "I'd had that yarn for a long… really long time. You're the first person I've knit anything for in years…" and now he was going away and even if he weren't… the tears spilled out, "Sorry, this is so stupid," she rubbed her sleeve over her eyes, "you'd think a person would run out, eventually. I'm happy for you, I am. It's just…" unable to find the right words, Jenny lifted her hands in a helpless gesture, hoping he'd understand.

"It's not stupid." He said, taking a hesitant step in her direction. "I know what it's like not to be able to trust your own thoughts." Wanting more than anything to just reach out and take her in his arms, he warred with himself over it. Part of him was mindful that in a few days time he'd be on a transport out of the Gamma quadrant not knowing when or even if he'd ever see her again. But another part ached to just reach out and comfort the girl in front of him. In the end, following the theme of the day so far, Nathan reached out and pulled the sobbing girl into an embrace. "You'll win eventually." He whispered into her ear.

Of course she went rigid at his touch… it was impossible not to… at the first, anyway but the longer Nate's arms encircled her, warm and safe and strong and not hurting her, the more relaxed she became until it was just the sorrow for what might have been and not the fear of what had never been which flowed from her broken heart. Of their own volition her arms reached up to return the embrace, to share in that one moment what she'd been with him. "Thank you," the words were barely a whisper.

A few long moments passed before he gently pulled away, knowing full well that soon he'd be pulling away from much more than just the girl here in front of him. Looking down slightly to meet Jenny's gaze, Nathan mustered a half smile. "You know," He joked, having always found at least a small comfort in brevity, "You could have showed up ten minutes ago."

She was shocked by the laugh that brought out, but then, "Would you have changed your mind?" And should he, for her sake? At least, for once, his face was relaxed, at ease win a way she'd never seen.

He didn't need to think about it. The answer was no. He'd made up his mind before he'd even went to be the previous night. And a good night's sleep, the first in ages, only served to cement his decision. He hadn't been home in over three years. Not a long time to some. But when you're nineteen and the people there are the only family you have left, it could be forever. He shook his head. "No." He said simply. "But that might have been ten more minutes that we got to spend together before…" we never see each other again. He shoved the thought away as if it were foul. It was. "before I leave." he finished after the pause. "I haven't confirmed the transport. though. So I've still got a few days to finalize everything and get things taken care of here."

"Good, I mean, that you have some time." Of course, that time would include a lot of admin, and packing… packing sucked, "How about I stand you to a milkshake, before…"

"Name the time and place, and I'll be there." Nathan nodded with a smile. A genuine smile. And this time, there was nothing awkward or forced in it.

*A JP with Jenny Anderson, played by her godfather "Dirty" Harry Finn*
Originally Posted 7-21-2008 by Nathan Benjamin

-USS Hawking-

=<>=He says he doesn't understand why no one will communicate with him.=<>= the ship's computer explained. The Chief Engineer didn't know what to say. This is a joke. Someone's playing a joke on me. Javier thought as he looked around the vicinity of the cargobay. Any moment now people will run out with a cake..mmmh..and yell surprise.'s not my birthday, why would they..maybe for the promotion?



=<>=He sounds really nice. And he's very polite.=<>=

"He? It's a beacon. He..Its not alive." Cake. He hadn't had any since the mission to Tennyson's world. Of course when you're infected with a deadly zombie virus because you ate cake it's understandable to wait months before eating more cake.

=<>=Siggy disagrees with you.=<>= the ship's computer replied.

Lemon..yes, lemon icing with a white.. "Siggy? Who's Siggy?" Javier asked as his thoughts were drawn away from the delectable goodness of cake.

=<>=He refers to himself as Sigma 490347, to expedite matters I have named him Siggy.=<>= the ship's computer replied.

"Ship's computer..if you were a human..well T'Shaini would have some tough competition," Javier replied with a laugh.

=<>=Thank you Sparks, you're one of my favorite humans also.=<>= the ship's computer replied in a tone that could have been construed as flirtacious.

"Ask Siggy why he shocked me," the engineer stated. I'm asking a beacon questions via my ship's computer which has a crush on me. Insanity. He waited while the computer and the beacon conversed. "What's the deal with my brain, why am I so obviously insane?" Javier began to sing. "In a perfect situation I let love down the.."

=<>=He says you tried to access his systems. He says those are 'his' and thus private.=<>= the ship's computer said. =<>=It would be the same as me spying on you while you were taking a shower. An invasion of your privacy if you will.=<>=

Javier balked. "Computer have you been..?" Insanity. "Ask him if he would permit me to work on his systems and install a translation device and a vocal projector so we can communicate better." More waiting.

=<>=Siggy says that would be wonderful.=<>= the feminine voice of the ship's computer replied. =<>=He has so much information he would like to share with you.=<>=

"Right, drop the forcefield," Costala replied as he gathered his tools and set to work. He carefully opened the panel to Siggy's systems but this time received no shock as he did so. Within a few minutes he had found the systems of the beacon that functioned as a 'brain' and added a microprocessor and translation device so Siggy could 'hear' and translate Javier's words into signals.

"Hungry nights once again, now it's getting unbelievable cause I could not have it better. But I just can't get no play," the engineer sang as he worked. The ship's computer hummed along, slightly out of tune. "from the girls all around as they search the night for someone to hold on to, as they pass.."

=<>=Siggy wants to know where you acquired that signal.=<>= the ship's computer suddenly said, =<>=He said it has a nice rhythm to it.=<>=

"Just tell him about songs," the engineer replied as he continued his work. "Give him access to the LCARS section that has song recordings." The beacon's systems were kind of unique and Javier was busy with the fine-tuning of the vocal projector. "Tell him he can talk now. I just have to," Javier said as he soldered one last filment to a node, "there, tell Siggy.."

<>Hel-lo Sparks!<> the beacon stated in a rush of excitement. <>Would you like to sing a song?<> Music began to issue forth from the vocalizer Javier had just installed. It was louder than the voice Siggy used to speak so it was obvious that the beacon liked this particular song from the LCARS archive. <>Hey! Don't write yourself off yet. It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on. Just try your best, try everything you can and don't you worry what they tell themselves, when you're away. It just takes some time..<>

"I love that song."

=<>=I told you he was nice.=<>=

Javier sings 'Perfect Situation' by Weezer
Siggy sings 'The Middle' by Jimmy Eat World

Originally Posted 7-21-2008 by Javier Costala

USS Hawking
Saunders/Anderson Quarters

Jen was standing in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. She’d left Nate packing up his personal’s from the ready room and, once in the ‘lift she’d been reminded of Uncle Harry, after he’d started treatment for alcoholism, visiting their house in Boulder and awkwardly apologizing for disappearing after the court martial. He’d gone on to apologize for her father’s death and through it all Jenny had sat, seventeen and confused and not knowing what to think.

After he’d gone her mother explained the steps taken by recovering alcoholics; the ones who did it the old-fashioned way, and what his visit had meant.

She wasn’t a recovering alcoholic but even Jenny had to admit she was recovering from something and it seemed a lot of people were getting damaged collaterally.

It was with this vague sense of needing to mend something that she stopped by Main Engineering, looking for BHP.

Who was gone.

He’d been removed the day before, she learned. Fenton barely got the explanation out before Jenny was out the door and on the way to her own department but there was no joy in Main Security.

“The lieutenant’s gone,” Ensign Peress informed her. “He, B’Naath, Goval and the twins took… shore leave, down at J-S.”

Ah, significant pause, shore leave. On a locked-down planet, no less. “And how long did he think that… shore leave… would last, sir?” She didn’t know what Tenanji was doing, down there… probably helping with the bomb investigation… but if he were gone too long, Pierce’s case would be completely hopeless.

“He believed 48 hours would be sufficient.” Sufficient to what, the enigmatic Tenanji hadn’t said but Zane believed it had something to do with the visiting Lieutenant Commander Vail.

Forty-eight, not hopeless. Not great, but…

Zane wasn’t done, though. “And you’re on the list for leave as well… not on planet, but Taylor-Kane is open to visitors.” The next pause was more awkward than significant, “LT strongly recommended you take the time.” When that failed to impress, Peress leaned over the desk, “Which, for you newbies, means ‘ordered’ in officer-speak.”

So now Jenny was standing in the middle of her room, staring at nothing.

“There you are!”

Practially leaping out of her skin, Jenny turned to see that Darbs was in the house.

“Here I am,” she replied, telling her racing heart to chill.

“Well, you’re supposed to be in Transporter One, with me, going to the station!” Darby had been given leave as well, along with the suggestion that her friend might need some encouragement to get off the ship. “We only get twelve hours, this round so let’s make the most of it! We’ll start with some shopping and then we’ll get a mani and a pedi at this little spa and then there’s a faboo coffee shop and after lunch, we can hit the next level of shops… and.. Ohohoh, did you hear about the captain… and Pierce… and Tenanji taking off, what's that about?”

“Yes, yes and I don't know?” Jenny allowed her roommate to pull her out of their quarters, only slightly worried about what a Manny and a Peddy might be and did they require feeding?

Featuring NPC's Darby Saunders and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 7-21-2008 by Harry Finn

-Station TK-

"Like your new quarters Pierce?" the officer that had arrested the engineer asked him with a smirk. "I know it doesn't have the same feel as a cell with iron bars would. You must miss the good old days on Sigma Iota." Ben ignored the officer and ran his hand over his close-cropped hair. It was as short as he had worn it in the marines. "I personally recommended the haircut and the change of uniform to the brig officer," Commander Nguyen commented as he paced up and down the corridor outside Pierce's cell. "I'm glad to see he took my advice. I figured it would help the transition from fugitive to prisoner. You're going back to your homeworld to be tried Pierce, so I wanted you to fit right in.."

"That's what your mother said," Ben said quietly, but not too quietly. The next thing he knew the forcefield came down and Commander Nguyen had grabbed him by his prisoner jumpsuit and slammed BHP against the back wall of his cell.

"You think prisoners have rights here Pierce?" the officer said, his face close to Ben's. "You're a dead man anyway, what would it matter if you never made it to trial?" The officer saw Pierce's eye widen. "Why do you think you're being taken back to your home planet for trial? I personally saw that it happened so you could receive the death penalty. Sigma Iota is one of the few places where it still exists, comprende?"

Ben understood; his knee jerked up and Commander Nguyen crumpled over in pain. The officer's sidearm was within grasp and he stepped out of the cell and gave the brig officer a taste of the full stun setting. Nguyen got the next shot from the phaser.

::Ten Minutes Later::

Commander Benjamin Hyde Pierce, the newest commissioned officer in Starfleet made his way along the station's promenade. He had hidden the brig officer, sleeping peacefully, behind his desk. Nguyen, Ben had dressed in his old prison uniform and stuffed a sock in his mouth, before handcuffing him to the cot in his old cell. The memory alone made BHP smile even as he tried to figure out how he was going to get off the station.

I can stowaway on a ship until they're out of range and then.. his eyes stopped on two people that were walking towards him. One wore garishly pink clothing, while the other..hide. move away. too late. They'd seen him. She'd seen him. Jenny.

Featuring NPC Benjamin Hyde Pierce
Originally Posted 7-21-2008 by Javier Costala

::USS Hawking::
::Thorne Quarters::

Her hand went to her neck to feel the new pip that rested beside her previous one. In the days following her promotion, Tatiana found herself unconsciously feeling her neck to be sure they were still there. She'd been shocked when she found out she had been promoted. Her performance during the race was minimal at best, and it bothered her more than she liked to admit.

The chime sounded, and she jumped in surprise. “Come in,” she called out.

Mikhail strolled in, “Hey.”

Tatiana looked up and gave a short wave, “Hi, little brother.” He walked up behind her and peered over her shoulder, “What are you doing?”

“I couldn’t remember the name of the Andorian subspecies, so I had to look them up.”

Mikhail prompted her to scoot over so he could sit on the edge of her chair, “The Aenar. You should know that, we both know you love your Andorians.”

Tatiana placed the PADD on top of the messy pile, “I can’t help it that blue is my favorite color.” She looked at him in confusion, “Why are you here?”

“I didn’t have anything to do,” he answered and shrugged, “I came to see if you wanted to get something to eat.”

“In a bit, let me straighten up. Go ahead, I'll catch up,” she said and pointed at the door while she fixed the skewed pile of PADDs.

He shook his head, "I can wait. What's going on? You look like you have something on your mind."

"It's nothing," she answered, "Just thinking about…stuff." She finished arranging the objects on her desk and motioned for her brother to follow her, "Let's go."

-Blatant filler post featuring the NPC, Mikhail Thorne.-

Originally Posted 7-22-2008 by Tatiana Thorne

-Holosuite 3-
-USS Hawking-

"How we going to get up dere?" Lia asked as she, Eli and Scotty contemplated the height of the tree and their own height off the ground. The lowest branches were a good twenty feet above the children's head. Scotty sat down in the grass beneath the tree and waited. He was a smart dog, with good instincts, and something told him there was more to this tree.

"We're going to climb," Javier said resolutely. He dropped their bags near the base of the tree and scrutinized the trunk, as if calculating the best possible way to ascend into the lower branches. "You should see Miss T'Shaini climb, she's a veteran tree climber. Once we were being chased by a bear and she scooted right up a tree."

"A bear?" Eli asked as he looked around warily. "Scotty will keep the bears away," he reassured everyone, but most importantly himself.

"Daddy, it's too big to climb," Lia scolded.

T'Shaini looked up the long trunk and nodded at Lia. "Yes I think so too, even with a bear behind me I doubt I could make it." Her eyes narrowed playfully at Javier, then seeing the look on Eli's face she hurried in with. "Not that there would be any bears in this holodeck program." Then under her breath. "At least there had better not be." Stepping further back the Vulcan raised one eyebrow at the group. "I am willing to wager that there is a surprise here that will help us climb." She squatted down to Lia and Eli's height and looked up at Javier. "Am I correct?"

"I don't think I added bears to this program," Javier said quietly while thinking about the various safety features he had added for the kids. For instance, if one of them decided to jump out of the tree they would be suspended in the air and a safety alert would sound. "Yes, to help us climb I give you," he stated with ambitious showmanship as he pushed on the front of the trunk, "magic stairs!" A door that had been carved within the trunk of the tree swung back to reveal a small staircase that wound its way up around the middle of the enormous tree.

"Tree stairs!" Eli laughed and ventured forward to look at this new marvel. Lia, intrigued, but only so long as T'Shaini was coming along hung back until Scotty nosed forward and barked at her. The little, white dog bounded up the stairs and the kids followed, taking up the chant of 'tree stairs' as they explored what would be their home for the next four days.

The siren's song of children laughing drew T'Shaini to sprint up the stairs after them. As they clambered over every available surface, squealing with glee she turned to wrap her arms around Javier's neck. "This was a lovely thing to do for them. They are lucky to have you in their lives…as am I."

"I think I'm the lucky one here," Javier replied, embracing T'Shaini before suddenly pulling her forward so he could press his lips against her warm mouth. It had been too long since they had shared a kiss in privacy… The sound of two children giggling reminded Javier that he and T'Shaini were not completely alone.

"You kissed her," Eli teased as he chuckled.

"What did I say about no bears..because I think I hear one coming," Javier said as he dropped to all fours and growled. He turned and chased the two kids around the room, as they shrieked and ran away from the 'bear'. Not even the Vulcan counselor was spared from being chased by the bear, and Javier fell over laughing when she re-enacted her famous tree climb by scaling the bed to get away from him.

Perching on top the headboard (luckily it was wide enough for her to do so) T'Shaini felt the adrenaline of the chase mingle with a warmer feeling. Screams of laughter surrounding her, she smiled smugly from her perch until a ball of white fur flew out of nowhere to knock her off balance enough to send tumbling to the bed…from below which a hand snaked up and grabbed her ankle, dragging her into the tangle of limbs wrestling on the floor.

Best shore leave ever.

JP with Tarzan, Jane, Tarzan Jr. and Little Janey also with Cheetah being played by Scotty the Dog
Originally Posted 7-23-2008 by Javier Costala

SS Taylor Kane

"Hey, Jen, isn't that…"

"Nahh, couldn't be," Jenny spun Darbs towards the nearest eye-catching window display. "But you know, I think I spotted a leopard print sweater in pink, right in there…" and on the magic 'p' word, Darby was in the store and Jenny was in BHP's shocked and shorn face. "Should I even ask?"

"Probably not, in fact it might be best for all parties concerned if you forgot you saw me," Pierce said as he started to brush past her. He paused though, he wanted to talk to Jenny one last time. Who knows if I'll be back this way again. "How are you doing? I mean, with the thoughts about..him."

Shit… not only an evasion, an evasion that went there, "Better, fine… whatever," this didn't seem the right time to get into Chuck's mind games, not when she knew that Ben was in deep doo doo for sure. "But I'm almost sure you weren't a Lieutenant Commander yesterday," taking his arm, she pulled him into the nearest shop, not bothering to look at what kind of merchandise was on offer. "Lose the pips," she advised, "let's at least avoid you getting 'impersonating an officer' added to the sheet."

"After kicking him in the balls I doubt wearing Commander Nguyen's uniform will matter," Ben said, cracking a grin. There was something about being on the run that was almost too appealing. But to placate Jenny he reached up and detached the pips then tossed them into a sales bin nearby. "Look what you can get for 99 cents these days." He ran his hand over his head suddenly conscientious of his loss of hair. "Do you like the new style?"

Men, "It's very becoming, I'm sure." She crossed her arms over her chest, "Why?" she asked, "Why… I mean… with the kicking? And the running away? And… why?" Someone, a civilian, was hovering so she moved away from the bins of tribble-bottle-cap openers.

"They're setting me up to take a fall," Pierce said his features hardening, "a hard one. The guy who owns this uniform said that the trial is going to be at home and he's asking them for the death penalty. I know it wasn't right what I did, but it was an accident." He moved with her as she stepped away from a curious shopper. "This guy, Nguyen, the guy who came to the ship to get me. He's been pushing me pretty hard since the arrest." Ben frowned. "I want to have a chance and I don't think I will if I stay here."

"Staying here is your only chance," she said quietly. "Run now and you're guilty… you could have been in another city when the heist went down but by running you'd make yourself guilty. This guy… he's a problem but you can't solve it by running away. Every time you break custody it makes things worse for you."

"Every time I break custody I find myself running into you," Ben said offhand, "not that I'm complaining." He looked over to find an old lady watching them. "Can I help you ma'am?" The woman pointed to the Andorian cuckoo clock that sat on the shelf behind Pierce. He was in her way. "Sorry, this one?" Ben said as he reached for the red and brown clock. "No, the green one," the lady said. Pierce nodded and handed the elderly lady her clock then watched as she shuffled off. He turned back to Jenny. "I like running into you. So why should I stop breaking custody?"

Jenny felt the blood rushing to her cheeks, and had to look down, which wasn't an improvement since her eyes fell on a crate of Orion Slave Girl dolls. "You didn't just 'run into me' before," she said, remembering again, looking up at him, again, "if you hadn't run from Astyr, I wouldn't be here." She knew that for a fact… because one of the things Chuck had shared with her in that box was her dispensability. "But now you have to think of yourself," another tourist pushed past and she practically jumped out of his way, "think of what kind of future you want because if you run now, you'll never be able to stop."

"I know what I want," Ben replied as he looked at Jenny intensely. "It's just sometimes the future doesn't work out like you want it to," he said with a shrug of his shoulders, "then you have to make the best of what you have." Why was he telling her this, she probably knew it better than anyone else. "I can't think of many reasons to stay."

"You don't think your friends matter? Or your home?" Maybe not. Maybe life was one big galactic cruise for Ben… who was she to know? "You have a good life on Hawking…" but her argument was interrupted by a peremptory hand on her shoulder.

"Out of the way miss…grk…" the security officer who'd been trying to move Jenny out of the way found himself out of words, and breath, as she automatically elbowed him in the gut.

"Oh… no…" Jen backed away, "sorry?"

Ben turned to find a phaser pointed at his face with a very pissed off looking Nguyen holding the weapon. The man was gritting his teeth, almost intent on firing the weapon. Even Pierce was smart enough to know that a phaser set on stun could kill him if fired point blank at his head. They had him pinned in. "Leave her out of this, I was just asking her for directions to the nearest transport," Ben said.

"Take him," Nguyen said as two security officers man-handled Pierce to the floor and cuffed him. All the while the officer in charge had his weapon on BHP.

"Sir, sirs, wait," Jenny jumped in, not even sure what she was going to do, "he wasn't trying to escape, he wanted to turn himself in but… but he was concerned as to the fairness of his impending trial so… so we…" oh, this sucks, "Look, Benjamin Hyde Pierce is not what you think he is. He saved my life, only a few days ago, and the life of Captain Benjamin of the USS Hawking. He's a valued member of our crew…"

"Are you an accomplice of his?" Commander Nguyen snapped turning on the young woman. "Bring her along too."

"She's got nothing to do with this you piker," Pierce said as he began to struggle against the two security goons. The situation looked as if it was taking a turn for the worst when an older man stepped in between Jenny and Nguyen.

"Commander, would you please tell your men to act professionally when they approach my client and my client's acquaintances. I expect them to act with the same level of professionalism that I expect from a senior officer such as yourself." The man paused for a second, long enough to let his words sink in then proceeded, handing the officer a PADD. "Here is an injuction against moving Mr. Pierce's trial to Sigma Iota. The trial will be held here on Taylor-Kane in two days time. There is also a notice of bond, Mister Pierce has been removed from your custody and released into mine. Please remove your handcuffs then remove yourselves from this place."

Nguyen stared at the man in disbelief then took the PADD he was being offered and read it. Everything was in perfect order, including the bond procedure and it had all been approved by his superiors at Starfleet HQ. The Vice Admiral's signature stood out on the document. "Who are you?"

"I am William Sevigny, Mister Pierce's attorney," the man replied simply before turning to BHP to say, "Lieutenant Costala believed you would need an attorney. I came as soon as time would allow." He returned his attention to the Commander. "Your men have not removed Mister Pierce's handcuffs yet, I implore you not to try my patience Commander."

The two guards on Pierce, at Nguyen's curt gesture, released the young man and, no fool, he (well, mostly) quickly joined Jenny at Mr. Sevigny's side and waited for the disgruntled trio to exit the small shop.

"Those guys," Jenny muttered, fury and panic still bubbling around inside, "give Security a bad name."

"Yep, and that name is asshole," BHP mused.

"It is a loveless profession," Sevigny agreed.

Featuring NPC's Lt. Commander Nguyen and William Sevigny, Esq., BHP(JC) & JA(HF)
Originally Posted 7-23-2008 by Harry Finn

Duty and Desire
Previous story information in Fleet Ops thread, Life Interrupted

~~~ Fleet Ops Office - Admiral D'Rinax - Megiddo Station ~~~

Halfway through reading the information on the PADD the computer interrupted the silence in Drawdé’s office.

=^= Incoming communiqué from Starfleet Command marked urgent… opening a secure channel now =^=

It wasn’t often that any communication came through that the Admiral didn’t have the opportunity to accept or decline.

Righting himself in his chair he watches as the screen on his desk monitor changes from the standard Starfleet emblem, to static and then to an image of Admiral Hendricks.

“To what do I owe this honor Admiral?” asks Drawdé.

“Admiral, unfortunately this is not a social call. A situation has arisen in your sector that I need your help with.”

“By all means… What can I do for you?”

A short pause is taken by Hendricks then he begins. “The USS Hawking is currently under your ‘watch’. I just got off the comm. with its Captain, Nathan Benjamin”

“I know him well, one of the finest young Captains I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.” Drawdé interjects

“I want Captain Nathan Benjamin stripped of his command of the Hawking and placed into custody.”

“You’ll have to forgive me Admiral but… as you may know I just recently returned from a sabbatical of sorts. What in the name of all that’s holy could he have done?!“

“Yes Admiral, I realize that and hope that you are well rested but an incident happened during the regatta that has caused us to take this action.”

Drawdé sits back in his chair with a look of confusion on his face. Just days ago he fought tooth and nail to re-instate Jordan Levi to command and now he is being asked to remove Nathan Benjamin from his command

Hendricks continues, “He assimilated a nurse after being recovered from a stolen Breen ship during the regatta. They pretty much tortured him and eventually his baser instincts kicked in and the whole ship ended up assimilated. Now we have a ship filled with Borg running amuck in the Gamma Quadrant”

Drawdé’s mouth dropped open for a moment. “Understood Admiral, Where is Benjamin now? You say you spoke with him.”

“Yes I did, he is still aboard the Hawking. In poor spirits mind you. He is cooperating at this time but we fear that he may revert to his Borg state and try to assimilate more. He has asked to be relieved of duty and basically resigned. Communications between him and I were cut off but I don’t think it was due to any covert action… Someone entered his office and began talking with him. His mind isn’t where it should be and I believe he just forgot that I was on line with him.”

Still in shock Drawdé replies, “Admiral… I… I will take care of this immediately as well as send out patrols in search of the assimilated Breen ship.”

“Thank you Admiral, Let me know when he arrives.” Then the comm went blank.

“Computer, display a list of all command officers on the Hawking”

A few moments later a short list appeared on his screen.

One name clearly stood out. Torrik Nils. His service record was impeccable, he was respected amongst his crew and he has shown that he has the ability to lead.

“Computer, Contact the USS Hawking and have Mr. Nils report.”

On board Hawking, Nils had just found the time to settle into his quarters. He’d barely removed his uniform top when the comm rang…again. The Bajoran’s countenance dropped as did his shoulders. As he usually did when life wasn’t going his way, which it rarely did, he drew in and released a long sigh.

“Go ahead,” he said in frustration.

=^= You have an incoming transmission from Fleet Operations, sir, =^= a female voice said. It wasn’t Jezeera, and Nils couldn’t remember the other Operations officer’s name. T’Kreet? T’Spleen? Some Vulcan something…

“Patch it through,” he groaned.

=^= Lieutenant Nils, I have Admiral D’Rinax for you…Please hold…=^=

Here it comes, thought Nils. Maybe that Commander Vail hadn’t come to Hawking to dole out judgment for the fiasco that was the Megiddo Regatta, but his failure had ranked a call from a full fledged Admiral.

=^= Secure connection established Mr. Nils is standing by =^= informed the computer.

While waiting for the link Drawdé had prepared himself yet another cup of coffee. Quickly he returns to desk and taps the panel on its surface. Static fills the screen but only for a moment. “Computer, have engineering report to my office in 1 hour” “I have to get this stupid thing fixed" He thinks to himself as the static finally dissipates.

Appearing before him was the face of an out of uniform young man who looked rather ragged and down right tired.

“Mr. Nils, First off let me apologize for the interruption” he says noticing Torrik’s attire.

“It’s no interruption, sir,” Nils replied, trying to appear at ease. In truth, his gut felt as if it were being hollowed out by a mining laser. “Just a long shift…” Understatement of the year award. “How can I be of service, Admiral.” Brace yourself, Torrik.

“First off, I would like to commend you on your service record. You have been a shining example of what a Starfleet Officer should be. There is however something I need to discuss with you”

It was the ‘however’ that stood out. Nils swallowed hard and nodded at the miniature screen set up on his desk. “Of course…” He made space and secured himself for what he was sure would be one hell of a reprimand.

By the look on the face of the man on the screen, Drawdé could tell that there was some uneasiness filling his form. He couldn’t tell if it was sheer exhaustion or the fact that someone from Fleet Ops was contacting him. No matter though, Drawdé continued.

“As you may know, we have had to remove Nathan Benjamin from command. His actions, whether under duress or not, could be considered very detrimental to Starfleet. Without getting much further into that issue, it leaves me with a decision that needs to be made about the command of the Hawking.”

The conversation was turning and Nils felt the shift more than heard it. He suddenly realized that once again he’d misinterpreted a senior officer’s intentions. “I’ve filed two reports defending Captai… Mister Benjamin’s actions.” It stung to call Nathan ‘Mister’ instead of Captain. The spiral of events had left Nils feelings shell shocked since the announcement had been made. “But I see no reason why you’d need to discuss command with me…sir. I’ve also sent a request for my own reinstatement as Chief of Science of Hawking…” He’d assumed the brass would be quick on such an action considering the events surrounding the Regatta.

“I have seen those requests pass my desk and have spoken with the Office of Science Ops. I was about to grant your request when this concern came to light. The issue here is this; I am in need of a good replacement for command of the Hawking. I feel that you would be better suited for Command rather than placing you as Chief Science Officer at this point in time. You have the skills, the drive and the respect of the crew. I can see no other logical choice.”

Drawdé sits back in his chair with a bit of a smile on his face. Thinking that Torrik would be excited with the prospect of having his own ship, he awaits Torrik’s reply.

Nils stared at the screen and his jaw slowly fell open. “Command,” he squeaked weakly. “Admiral, I’m not… I don’t want… The reason that I…” Words failed. His focus failed. His mind went supernova and the universe imploded on him. “No…” He said simply, shaking his head in awe.

“I realize that this is a big step to take but I know you can do it. I want you to reconsider your decision, take some time to think about it… I know you need the rest and I did catch you at a bad time.”

Drawdé shifts in his chair and his expression becomes sterner. “I hate to do this to you Mr. Nils but seeing as how you are the most qualified, I must place you in temporary command of the Hawking. This, in no way is to force your decision to accept command but rather to maintain order. That being said, this is an order Mr. Nils and I expect it to be followed. Your first duty is to insure that Mr. Benjamin get the first transport back to Megiddo Station. He is to be under light guard and not be out of anyone’s sight.”

“Light guard?” Nils' tone was incredulous. “Admiral, I appreciate the vote of confidence but I have no desire…”

To Torrik it appeared that, even though Drawdé hadn’t moved an inch or changed his expression one iota, the Admiral seemed closer to the screen and more ‘threatening’.

Raising his voice, Drawdé cuts Nils off abruptly.


The Bajoran stared at the black screen in apoplectic shock. His head fell in his hands and with no understanding why… Torrik Nils began to chuckle lightly.

JP - Lt. Torrik Nils and Admiral D'Rinax
Originally Posted 7-23-2008 by Drawde D'Rinax

-Holosuite 3-
-USS Hawking-

"And it was then that Babar, the King of the Elephants, learned that people…"

A group of snores interupted Javier's reading and he turned to find that both Eli and Lia had succumbed to the bliss of peaceful sleep. He carefully placed the book on the table between the two beds before easing up from the edge of the bed where he had been sitting. He tucked Lia in and kissed her plump little cheek. She sighed but didn't awaken. Javier turned to the other bed and moved Scotty down to the end, freeing him from the hug Eli had held the little dog in since the boy had fallen asleep. The engineer tucked Eli in then turned to leave the room. He paused at the doorway where T'Shaini stood. The light from a single lamp softly illuminated the room. Javier's gaze fell back on Lia. He sighed a long, drawn out sigh as he thought back upon the day's activities. The sigh wasn't because he was tired, but came with the realization that he had spent more time with Lia in the past few hours, than he had in the entire two months he had had custody of her.

"I miss her," he told T'Shaini quietly, "I missed this..I.." He didn't know how to say what he meant. He was glad that Lia had not been onboard the Constitution, after what had taken place but Javier knew that his time with his daughter was being squeezed away by his duties as Chief Engineer.

She had stood quietly in the doorway enjoying how natural this all seemed, how easily Javier slipped into this new role. Now watching all the new emotions play across his face T'Shaini knew this was only the beginning for him. "Life on board a starship is unlikely to ever be static, uneventful. So you will just make the most of the time you do have." She glanced down at the children, who such a relatively short time ago, had been racing around the treehouse and yet now so peaceful. Appearances can be deceiving. The counselor thought to herself. Turning her gaze back to Javier she smiled. "Which you are, you are making the most of it. And she loves you for it."

He nodded and hugged T'Shaini almost automatically before slipping past her, making his way across the tree-house to the opposite side where he and T'Shaini's room was located. The tree-house was more like a house in a tree than anything else. It had walls, doors, a kitchen, a shower and all the other amenities. Javier passed into their room and began to undress. His thoughts went back to a few hours before when the kids had been playing a game of 'My Favorite' which was really just saying 'my favorite something is..?' then letting the others try and answer and see who knew each other the best. He had joined in but rather than enjoy the game he had found it to be a testament to how little he knew about Lia's likes and dislikes.

"I've set breaching charges on a Breen cruiser in zero gee conditions," Javier started as T'Shaini entered the room, "I can assemble and disassemble a battle rifle blindfolded, I know the perfect mixture of matter and anti-matter to achieve warp 9 with only residual effects upon fluidic space, I know about the lives of all the junior engineering crew but I didn't even know that Lia's favorite color is yellow." He remembered another thing and smiled slightly then said, "Or 'lellow' as she says." His face became serious again. "There's something wrong with that." Javier tossed his shirt on the floor then stretched out on the bed. "There's something wrong with knowing all those things then not knowing about your own family."

Following behind him, T'Shaini scooped up his shirt in a fluid motion to drop it over the arm of the chair before sitting on the edge of the bed. "You have devoted a great deal of time learning engineering, and due to circumstances, some within, some beyond your control, you have spent more time with your crew than with your daughter." She reached out to take his hand. "These things are neither good nor bad, just simply what is. What is important is now, that you have the opportunity, you do not let the self recrimination weigh you down, but move forward and create your relationship Lia unhindered by the past." Putting one hand on either side of his shoulders, T'Shaini leaned over Javier him to look him in the eye. "Lia does not judge you, and there is no need for you to do it for her."

"Someone has to," he replied his eyes shifting away, then coming back to T'Shaini's, "she deserves better." He frowned then decided to put the thoughts away for the night. It never went well when one went to sleep in disagreement. "I'll think about what you've said," Javier said as he pulled T'Shaini closer to him, drawing her in for a kiss. Her lips were warm and full but the kiss lasted momentarily before Javier turned his head to the side. "Did I tell you that when I programmed this holosuite I added sound-proof walls to the treehouse's construction?"

If he is not ready to hear it, I cannot make him. Knowing there would be no 'quick fixes' for this, T'Shaini smiled and ran her fingers through his hair. "Did you? Well, I propose we test that out…all in the name of science, of course."

"Engineering you mean," Javier said with a quick grin, "in the name of engineering."

JP by T'Arzan and Janier
Originally Posted 7-26-2008 by Javier Costala

-Orbital Station Taylor-Kane-

"First of all I want to be completely frank with you," the attorney explained, as he and his client reviewed Pierce's case, in the temporary offices that Sevigny had been granted for the duration of the trial, "if you are arrested again you will remain in custody and not seek a means to escape. Futhermore you will fully co-operate with all officers of the court or otherwise in these proceedings."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Pierce retorted. "I've complied with every reasonable demand that.."

"Your actions in the past twelve hours disagree with your statement," Sevigny replied in a tone devoid of emotion. He wasn't searching for an argument, merely an acknowledgement that his client would change his habits. "Your friend, Ms. Anderson, you could have jeopardized her safety and perhaps her service record by speaking to her while impersonating an officer and escaping incarceration."

" think it will go on her record?" the Crewman asked in concern. "She didn't do anything though."

"Your meeting could be made to appear as if she was aiding your attempt at flight."

"She wasn't helping me escape..I just saw her, by accident, and I tried to avoid her.." BHP felt all the air go out of him as he slumped back in his chair. I did want to talk to her one last time. "She's been through too much already. Can you make it seem as if Jenny wasn't helping me?"

"I can," Sevigny promised, "and I will, I'm not asking you to swear an oath or make a deal. I don't approach the law in that manner. I would however like to see you rectify your penchant for circumventing the law as it pertains to you."

"I can do that," Ben agreed, trying not to get lost among the descriptive language.

"Good, now we have a day and a half to work on your defense," the attorney replied as he pulled a PADD from his briefcase. "This is the reconstruction of the depot attack that Lt. Costala forwarded to me along with his request that I represent you." He looked at the PADD thoughtfully then slid it across the table to Pierce. "It is weighty but incomplete."

"Incomplete? I wrote down everything the way it happened," Pierce said. "It is as I remember it."

"You do not make mention of the names of your accomplices. I know this is not a 'one man job' as they say, nor do you relate any information pertaining to the planning of the heist or who was involved with the plan," William Sevigny pointed out.

"I ain't no rat," BHP protested, "I can't rat out my friends, not to you, Starfleet or anyone else." He started to push the PADD back towards the lawyer.

"What if the plan had been for you to fail? There's no proof of a conspiracy of course, but there is always the possibility that someone could use the depot incident for their personal gain; at your expense."

"They wouldn't, they were from the family," Pierce said in flat denial. He'd had a good crew to work with on the heist. The Boss had recommended two of the men himself and the rest had been running with Ben since the beginning, they had climbed the ranks within the family along with him. "No, no way.." And yet, there was some doubt. The family had always encouraged competition and the best earner was given a certain amount of respect. "I'll give you the names but I don't want them given to anyone else," Pierce relented.

"I will protect your confidentiality," Sevigny stated, "if I don't have your trust then I should not be your attorney."

"Right," Pierce replied then began to work on the report, filling in the missing details.

Featuring William Sevigny, Esq. and Benjamin Hyde Pierce
Originally Posted 7-26-2008 by Javier Costala

:: USS Hawking ::

Still shell shocked, Torrik Nils strolled through the decks of the Hawking with no destination in mind. He’d donned a white t-shirt, but still wore his uniform pants. More than actually getting somewhere, he just felt like walking. His mind spun with the brick Admiral D’Rinax had chucked at his head.

“Nils… Nils…” The voice came from behind him. And although the Bajoran heard it, he couldn’t bring himself to care. “NILS!”

Lincoln Purcell grabbed his friend by the shoulder and hauled him back playfully. “For a smart guy you sure as hell don’t listen well…”

“I heard you, Lincoln,” Nils said letting his eyes slide over to look at the Vulcan hybrid. “I just didn’t feel like stopping.”

“Hmmm. That’s pretty friendly.” Unsure of whether Nils was actually upset or just in a typical funk he decided to press his luck. “So what’s on your mind?”

“I just got off the comm with Admiral D’Rinax…”

“Wow! Head of Megiddo Fleet Ops. Must have to do with Benjamin. Former Captain that is…not Hyde Pierce.” The two men fell into step together continuing their jaunt to nowhere.

“Yes,” answered Nils sullenly. “Wait… What’s wrong with Benjamin Hyde Pierce?”

“You really are out of it… Long story, but you tell me yours first.”

“The Admiral asked me to take command of the Hawking,” the Bajoran said sounding like it was a death sentence.

“And you said?” Lincoln tried to look as sullen as his friend, but couldn’t manage it. Evidently melodrama was the name of the game today.

“I told him no. So he ordered me… Rather forcefully, if I may add.” The First Officer seemed resigned to his fate, yet somewhat separated from it as well.

“Congratulations Captain,” Lincoln said with a twinkle in his eye.

If looks could kill, Lincoln would have been moments from getting stowed in a torpedo casing and launched into space. “I’m not the Captain… I’m the Temporary Commanding Officer.” The curmudgeon’s tone bore a heavy seriousness.

Koz Rotaran rounded the corner just ahead of them bearing a wide smile. “T’Preen just informed me that someone got a promotion,” he practically sang in his lilting Deltan accent.

Nils' brow dipped ominously low as he slowed to face off against his former Sentinel crewmate. “I think something needs to be done about our epidemic ship board gossip. And it’s just a temporary assignment anyway.”

“Temporary?” Koz looked confused. “T’Preen said the official orders just came through. Why would the Admiral only temporarily promote you to Commander?”

“A Commander to boot…” Lincoln couldn’t help appear pleased. “I believe Captain Torrik thought you were referring to his assignment as Commanding Officer of the Hawking.”

“Congratula…” Koz started before he was rudely interrupted.

“Temporary Commanding Officer,” Nils growled again. “It’s a temporary assignment. I was as yet unaware of any forthcoming promotion in rank…” The walk he’d devised to clear his head turned out to cause the reverse effect. He turned on Koz trying to change the subject. “Why is the Operations officer on duty informing you of any incoming transmissions anyway? Is the gossip ring on this ship so well developed that…” The smile on Koz’ face stopped him mid-sentence. Evidently T’Preen was not immune to the Deltan’s intense pheromonal presence. “But your vow…”

“I didn’t say anything has happened…Captain…”


“Commanding Officer,” all three men finished together.

“Yes, we know. We know,” Lincoln groaned, appearing a bit perturbed. “Not to sound like a nag, but I think you’ve got the completely wrong attitude about this. There are many officers who go through their entire careers aiming towards getting a command of their own. Granted yours came about in a bittersweet way, but it’s still a command.”

“Lincoln, I don’t have to tell you why I joined the Fleet. You know why I’m out here and what I want to do,” the Bajoran said honestly.

“The way I see it, you may have even more opportunity to all of that…”

“Playing sensor jockey is one thing,” Koz interjected. “But bearing the responsibility of the exploration also gives you the glory. Think of Mazon when he sailed the purple seas of Kantah. His discoveries are legendary among my people and set us on the road to sexual enlightenment. He is well respected in our histories… Yet no one remembers the name of the crewmate who held the far-view telescopic.”

“I’m not out here for glory, Koz. I’m perfectly content at my sensor console.”

“Hmph,” Koz retorted with raised eyebrows. “As long as I’ve known you I’ve never seen you perfectly content.”

The observation shamed Nils. And he was instantly reminded anew of the responsibility of command. Not only was he ultimately held to task for each life on board this floating bubble of atmosphere, but he was also expected to maintain a standard and example of the proper Starfleet attitude. “If you don’t mind,” he said turning to each of the scientists in turn, “I’d like a little time to think.”

“It’s what you excel at,” Lincoln commented snidely. “Comm me if you need to. Come on, Koz. Let’s go talk Vulcan women.”

“I told you…nothing happened,” the Deltan replied innocently as Lincoln led him away.

Finally alone again, Nils resumed his stroll around the ship. He didn’t expect to end up where he did. But somehow it happened. The door chimed and slid open.

“Can we talk?” Nils' eyes were soft and threatened to fill with tears.

“Sure,” Jillian Munro said cautiously. Nils entered and the door slid shut behind him.

Featuring NPC's Lincoln Purcell and Koz Rotaran
Originally Posted 7-26-2008 by Torrik Nils

SS Taylor-Kane
Transporter Room

“There you are!” Darby turned to see her roommate, breathless and hauling a trio of shopping bags into the room, just in time for their return to Hawking. “I thought you’d totally bailed and gone back already.”

Jen shook her head while the transporter tech did a headcount and contacted the Hawking. “Just lost you in the shuffle.” No way was she going tell Darbs ‘Motormouth’ Saunders about BHP’s defunct escape attempt. Mr. Sevigny, Godsend (or Costala-send) that he was, had the young crewman well in hand and had kindly sent Jenny on her way with a series of reassurances that were, contrary to all good sense, actually reassuring and the promise to contact her if there were anything she could do to help.

At loose ends and with another eight hours to kill, she’d taken to the shops, wandering aimlessly and occasionally even making eye contact with people as she passed. This was the first time she’d been ‘alone in public’ since…

Anyway, the aimless wandering worked in her favor as she ended up in what she supposed might be considered ‘antique row’ or at the least ‘old-school’ row. In a warmly-lit area, with lots of natural shapes and wood-toned decor she’d discovered a bookstore, with real paper bound books; a textiles shop which had actual real yarns from a score of planets (even bamboo… straight from Earth!); and an old-timey hardware store… complete with geezers gossiping about engines and comparing the latest in warp-core technologies.

She had been leery of going into that one but was sucked in by a shiny box which contained a 77 piece socket set, reminiscent of the one her Dad and Harry (it took a moment but she took the time to make herself see her godfather as she remembered, not as Chuck had rendered him) had used when kanoodling with their various and sundry retro-mechanical projects.

It seemed, somehow, just the sort of thing that the Lieutenant (woo, Mister Costala was an LT, now!) responsible for getting BHP a lawyer would appreciate. Not necessarily useful on a starship but it was sure a blast from the past. Worst case, his daughter could sort the sockets, which was how Jen spent her earliest years when the two men in her young life had been engaged in their various fix-em-ups. She figured she’d just give the set to T’Shaini at their first official session and the counselor could pass it on to the Chief. Or was that too…

“Hawking crew… take your places,” the tech interrupted her thoughts and Jenny, Darbs (with possibly twenty different bags strewn about her person), a very happy Dom and Delano and a very somber Ray Larkin all found a spot on the transporter pad.

It wasn’t until the transporter beam began to tingle across her awareness that Jenny realized this had been her first ever shore leave. Well, there was no drinking but I did ‘pick up a guy’ and I sort of got into a fight, so I guess it was a success?

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 7-27-2008 by Harry Finn

-SS Taylor Kane-

Fenton was bored. He was trying his best not to show it. He munched on the hard tortilla chip and feigned interest, making a monumental effort to pay attention to Bilara. The engineer was talking about her family again and how much different Napeans were from Terrans. C'mon Fenton this is good to know, he persuaded himself, cultural differences are always interesting.. But it wasn't enough. Every time Bilara spoke he died a little on the inside.

His attention began to drift. The restaurant was also a club of sorts and the bar was situated a short distance from the booth that he and Bilara occupied. Fenton noticed an attractive red-head sitting by herself, sipping some kind of beverage. The bartender suddenly approached with another drink and Fenton knew that a pitch was about to be made. The woman accepted the drink and then turned to speak with the smooth operator who had bought it for her. Fenton almost wished he could trade places with the man. Surely she has something more interesting to talk about than family reunions on Napea.

Holy Crap that's Kowalski! Boyce thought in surprise as he watched the engineer make his move.

"Am I boring you?" an irritated voice asked.

Fenton's attention snapped back to Bilara. "Of course not.." Yes, you are. "I just saw Kowalski over there and.."

"With Heather, the red-head, some men think she is really attractive," Bilaral Wakeel said as her eyes thinned down in annoyance.

"Is she?" Oh hell yeah. "I hadn't noticed..Heather you say, do you know her?" Can you introduce me? The glare Bilara gave him was scandalous. Fenton deflected it and hazarded a look over towards the woman. He managed to time the look perfectly and was rewarded by the sight of Kal-El getting a drink dumped on his head.

"How could she do that to a CPO?" Wakeel asked in a tone rife with shock as Fenton laughed so hard he thought he would fall out of the booth. Heather glanced his way and grinned then returned to her own amusements. Fenton Boyce sported a wide smile which quickly melted away in the heat of Bilara's glare.

"Listen, obviously this isn't working out the way we thought it would," Fenton started. "I told Ben I would try to visit him so..I'm just going to go." Bilara said "oh" with a look of disappointment on her face. "It's not you it's me," Boyce told her. It's you…the stories more than anything. "Sometimes people just don't go together," Fenton apologized lamely. He stood up and left credits for their meal, then with a shrug he walked out of the restaurant, forcing himself not to in the direction of where the pretty red-head sat.

Featuring Fenton Boyce
Originally Posted 7-27-2008 by Javier Costala

-Holosuite 3-
-USS Hawking-

Breakfast had been a simple affair. Cereal and milk with some slices of kiwi and papaya which had led to fruit juice dribbling down small chins and a somewhat messy table. Javier had suggested that the kids wash the sticky off in a nearby stream. So he and T'Shaini found themselves sitting on a rock beside the stream, which was no more than two feet deep, watching Lia and Eli splash around in the cool water. He hugged T'Shaini as his arm slid around her waist, his hand pushing her hair aside so his fingertip could softly trace the outline of her pointed ear. "I heard that Edded is going to be a father again soon," he commented.

Content to do nothing but watch the children play and let the sound of the water soothe, T'Shaini leaned back against Javier and sighed. "Lovely, Feeya is quite happy…I saw her dancing down the corridor singing about 'little sisters'," She smiled up at Javier. "it makes much more sense now."

"It's always good to have a big brother or sister to look out for you," Javier said, his eyes drawn back to the children who had stopped splashing to stare down into the water at something by their feet. "Daddy, there's fish in the water!" Lia called out as Eli tried to catch them but was unsuccessful. "Can you catch one for our dinner?" he called back. Lia nodded her head in excitement and set about to capture a fish. "I almost got one." Eli said proudly as he frog-leaped to the side, trying to scoop up a fish in his small hands. "Good work Eli," Javier replied. He grinned and turned his attention back to T'Shaini. "Do you think some day Lia might have a younger brother or sister?"


It was not often that a Vulcan is completely at a loss for words. A short silence broken only by the squeals of the children stretched between them, then with a quirk of her eyebrow, T'Shaini said. "I suppose it is a possibility…you just need to find the right woman."

"Ha ha, from Vulcan Temptress to Vulcan Comedian in nano-seconds," Javier commented in good humor as he briefly tickled her side before saying, "I thought I have found the right woman." He hugged T'Shaini tighter. "If I have anymore children I want you to be their mother."

Twice in as many moments she was caught off guard. Javier always surprised her, she never tired of it. Shifting her body to face him so she could give the question the attention it deserved. "To be truthful, I had not considered it." T'Shaini's eyes were bright with unshed tears that his words had brought forth. "I think," She paused a moment as if considering the truth of her words. "yes, I would like very much, to share another child with you." Then T'Shaini's eyes were drawn to the children shrieking with joy in the stream. "But first, Lia needs to have a home built just around her, and you need to believe that you are the father she deserves."

Javier's smile grew brighter as he listened to T'Shaini's reply. She said yes! She wants to have my baby. He leaned forward to press his lips against T'Shaini's happily. "I love you.." he started.

"Daddy, we caught one!" The yell caused Javier to look up in surprise. Eli and Lia were giggling madly but in their small hands they held a medium sized fish!

"Holy Mackerel, they did catch one!" he said to T'Shaini.

T'Shaini laughed. "They certainly did better than I did when I tried." Then she eyed the fish warily as the children clambered up to present their prize to Javier. "I hope you do not think I can cook that thing." She murmured under her breath.

"Today, Daddy does the cooking," Javier said, giving T'Shaini a knowing smile.

"For which I am sure we are all grateful." At least they would be if they knew.

JP with T'Shaini, Javier and two small fisherpeople.
Originally Posted 7-27-2008 by Javier Costala

"It's good to be home, isn't it?"

The exhausted doctor looked up at the overly cheerful bioweaponeer and smiled, "Are you always in such a good mood?"

Chris shrugged, "I have no reason not to be. We won the race, I haven't blown the ship up," He raised his shoulders and dramatically rested one hand on his chest "My heart is light, the universe is fine and I have a date for Saturday night."

Jillian sat down on her couch and began flipping through PADD's, "I'm happy for you. I wish I could say the same," she tossed the PADD's aside, "I'm beat".

"I'll get out of your way. You should get some sleep."

"I'm fine. It's just every 5 minutes somebody wants something. Hey, tomorrow, if you have time, I'm planning on despising everyone who says, "Doctor, can we talk?".

Chris chuckled, "You're on.

The plot to despise the ship was interrupted by the swooshing of doors. Jillian was not prepared for who she was about to see.

“Can we talk?”

Oh, now that's just too easy, she thought to herself. “Sure,” Jillian Munro said cautiously. Nils entered and the door slid shut behind him.

Like a beat puppy, Nils entered Jillian's quarters, eyes trained on the floor. Since he was unsure why he'd brought himself here, the words were hard in coming. "I know it's been a while since we've talked… I mean really talked. But Jillian I'm…" It was in that moment that Nils' eyes lifted enough to see the other person in the room. And like a Terran clam, his mouth clapped shut. With his jaw clenched and his brows falling by the moment, he looked from Chris Hodges back to Jillian.

Still in shock from the surprise visit, Jillian was at a loss for words. The polite approach? Hi, come on in., The defensive response? What the hell do you want? or the truth? God damn, you're hot. Luckily, Chris beat her to having make a decision.

"Sir, I was just about to leave." Chris, squeezed behind the CO and scurried out of the room. After the doors closed behind him, Jillian looked up at Nils, "You wanted to talk?"

The Bajoran sighed and lowered his head again. "I did…" And though he still felt the same. He didn't know what to say. "I just spoke with Admiral D'Rinax…" Laying out what was causing his current mood seemed the easiest course. "I'm not exactly sure how it happened, or why…" The newly commissioned CO lifted his head and locked eyes with Jillian. "He's placed me in temporary command of Hawking." Though in many circumstances the news would sound like a good thing, Nils made it sound like he'd just told her about the passing of a beloved family pet.

It was a natural reaction. The kind that couldn't be controlled. Her face broke into a huge smile and she immediately jumped up from the couch and moved to give him a hug. She squeezed him tight, "Nils! I am so happy for you!!" She screamed.

Her arms wrapped around him almost soothed his angsty heart. Almost. He suddenly knew why he was here. "No…no…" Pulling away gently, Nils grabbed Jillian's hands and held her at bay, if only for a moment. "This is not a happy thing, Jillian. I'm not happy about it. In fact…I can't think of many worse things."

She stepped back, "Wha…", she was utterly confused, "You have your own ship. What's the problem?" It suddenly occurred to her that he might be here to deliver bad news, "Oh god. You're transferring me, aren't you? That's why you're here, right?"

Stunned silence.

"Transferring you?" Nils smiled. "Jillian that is the last thing I would do…"

She exhaled, "Well….What's going on then?" she said softly, "I don't understand what's so bad."

"I've never wanted Command. I'm a scientist with no other aspirations than exploring from my console… Analyzing sensors… Recalibrating the main deflector… This is… Jillian, it's just too much." Nils seemed truly down. In his moment of weakness, he let his guard soften and drew a little closer to the doctor. Her presence soothed him. It always had. No matter what manner of darkness plagued him during any given moment, her smile penetrated and scattered it like a polarized photon beam.

She pulled him down so that he was sitting beside her on the couch, "Nils, whether you believe it or not, you were meant to do this. I think the entire crew would agree." She squeezed his hand, "I don't buy for a moment that you have no other aspirations than exploring from your console - you are so much more than you give yourself credit for. And you can still be the scientist - the only difference is you've got a bigger office," she offered a smile, "There are some things we can't control, you know this. You could turn this down, but you won't, it wouldn't be right. It's a challenging path that's being set before you, and right now I know it feels like it goes against everything you've worked so hard for…but, this is happening for a reason… and I know you can do this." Her words suddenly made her feel sad. Everything she said may have well been about them. About their relationship. Or what was left of it.

And just like that things made more sense. Something about Jillian had always focussed Nils. She had a way of bringing the cacophany of his emotions into gentle harmony. The wild array of anger and uncertainty that he'd felt moments before faded. From the background, a new emotion emerged. Although it wasn't new. It'd always been there. It was the reason he'd been drawn here.

For once, Nils didn't question his own feelings. He just went with them. After closing his eyes, and leaning in ever so slightly, Nils touched his lips gently to hers. His hand cupped her chin and lifted her face up to meet his. And Nils kissed Jillian…

And Jillian smacked Nils…

She pushed herself away from him. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted him more than anything. But she knew he was just going to leave again. He would only hurt her.

The Bajoran's eyes were wide with shock. This was why he didn't go with the flow. "I'm… Jillian, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have… Plus being that I'm temporary Commanding Officer… I didn't mean to…" He rose suddenly as if to leave. "I should go."

She picked up a PADD and hurled it towards his back, smacking the wall beside him, "Stop. Just stop. Quit running away from me. Talk to me! Why do we keep doing this? Is this all you want? All the fun and no work? You can be honest, you know. Just tell me what you want!"

"What I want…" Nils said harshly. Having to dodge a hurling piece of standard issue Starfleet hardware had put him on the defensive. Heat rose from his collar. He could feel adrenaline coursing through him. The nature of their relationship was in constant flux and always charged him. He seized that charge, and lowered himself over her on the couch pinning her beneath him. She didn't fight. "This is what I want," he said intensely. Releasing himself to his emotions completely, he revelled in the smell of her hair…the softness of her skin…and the taste of her kiss. In the following moments the two lovers shed not only their inhibitions, but all their clothes as well.

A joint post with Torrik Nils, featuring NPC Chris Hodges
Originally Posted 7-29-2008 by Jillian Munro

-Holosuite 3-
-USS Hawking-

A breeze blew through the branches of the trees around them, causing the hammock to sway back and forth gently. Javier held T'Shaini and listened to the sound of the wind. Eli and Lia were in the midst of naptime and so the cabin would be a quiet, still place for another half hour or so. His hand softly stroked T'Shaini's hair, running down to her back before returning to repeat the movement. "You made me happy today..earlier, when you said we could share a child," he told her, his voice low.

"Mmm" She had been counting heartbeats, her cheek pressed against his chest. "it is not something that would come up at home for at least another ten years, I tend to forget that the Vulcan timetable is so dissimilar to human." A furrow creased her brow as a image of the Dosi trial flashed across her mind. "But also you must never disregard what is important because you never know when it could slip away."

"We have about 90 years to get things right," Javier said, "the first twenty are spent growing up then the next thirty to thirty-five are our peak performance years. After that it's all downhill, unlike Vulcans who seem to be like wine and get better with age." His fingertips touched her cheek softly stroking her brown skin. T'Shaini's last statement resonated in his thoughts. "I don't intend to go anywhere. Did I do something rash or stupid during the race to worry you? One of the shuttle mechanics said I jumped out of a shuttle for a beacon..I'm sorry if that scared you." Javier thought about what the man had told him then said, "I need to start thinking about you and Lia more so I won't act haphazardly."

"No, well yes…it would be good if you would forgo leaping into space without tether if for no other reason than I do not wish to be the first Vulcan to die of a heart attack." T'Shaini lifted herself up to look at him. "You still have no recollection of the race?"

He shook his head. "Nothing has come back..not even bits or pieces of memories. There's a big blank space where those thoughts should be. What happened? I mean, what happened to you? The engineers and others have filled me in on what I did part of the time. And Dr. Munro told me about the trials while I was in sickbay. She said you had your own set of trials though. What were they like?"

"I believe they went quite well, from what I was told all of us acquitted ourselves very…." Why am I avoiding? Awful. They were awful." A rueful expression crossed T'Shaini's face. "But illuminating." The Vulcan reviewed and reevaluated her judgment on her trials. "As arduous as they may have felt, how many beings get an opportunity to see what would have happened if they had not taken the road that at the moment might have appeared to be more difficult?"

"What did you get to see?" Javier asked her. What was awful about the trials? the engineer thought, What was 'the road not taken' from her perspective?

Taking a deep breath, she decided to start simply. "Well, the Dosi took me back to three major turning points, defying my family's expectations to become a counselor, our first meeting and…Vanona." T'Shaini found herself toying with the material of his t shirt and made herself look up. "In the first instance, without the ability to stand up for what I believed in I led a solitary existence as a member of security of the High Vulcan command and in reviewing news feed, read of the demise of the USS Hawking…and it was just words on a screen, no meaning." Eyes cast down again as a wave of nausea at the thought rushed over her.

Javier listened to T'Shaini explain the start of three very tough trials. He pulled her closer as he recognized the subtle signs that she was uncomfortable with the realizations of what might have been. "I once saw a member of the Vulcan High Command," he said, "I bet you looked pretty hot in their uniform. But I'm still glad you joined Starfleet," he remarked, trying to cheer T'Shaini up, as his hand closed over hers.

Wrapping her fingers tightly around his, grateful for his quirky support, T'Shaini continued. "Then, without the courage to walk in and speak to you again once returning to Aquatica, I never….we never…you ended up with a horrible person." She blurted out. How very uncounselor-like. Pressing her face down against his chest a small muffled chuckle slipped out.

"Camenze?" She wasn't really horrible but Javier couldn't think of anyone that inspired terror more than their old Chief of Science. Especially if 'ended up' means what I think it does. "Did I appear to be drugged? Or dazed? She hit me on the head a lot."

"Oh!" T'Shaini lightly smacked him on the chest. "No, Camenze was wonderful, I would have been sad for me, but happy for you. No, the one in the trial was…" She bit back the word that wanted to come out of her mouth. "much worse." Mirth at her inappropriate reaction drained away as she contemplated the final trial. "Vanona." She reached out to take his hand again. "I had still been warring with self recrimination over her death, I know it was no longer her, and I know that death was going to be her only chance at release, but I am a counselor." T'Shaini let out a shuddering breath. "In many ways it is all simply reassuring, but the ability to control my rage in the moment merely led to more death. Mine in fact. Which would have been tolerable if not for the fact that the last thing that I saw was you watching me die."

"I don't think I could endure that," Javier told T'Shaini, his voice dropping to nearly a whisper. "If that had been my test I would have failed. I know that death is a part of our life and also an occupational hazard but I don't want to lose you." His hand clasped hers and brought it up to his lips. "Without you, I wouldn't be…my life wouldn't be.." he looked down at her. "It's been so different from what I much better."

A serene smile spread across her face as the last of the burden of the trials lifted with her sharing. T'Shaini reached up to stroke his hair and whispered the incredibly apt name the Dosi had given Javier. "The one who guards the guardian."

JP The counselor and his girlfriend
Originally Posted 7-29-2008

The light from distant stars beamed through Jillian's bedroom window, casting a soft light across the string of clothing trailing from the common room to the bedroom. Jillian smiled as she ran the evenings event through her mind. She could feel the heat from Nils' body. His back was to her, and she could see in the dimness his long smooth back and the ridges of his spine. She kissed his back and then slid her arm around him, hugging him closely. She could feel his breathing, slow and deep and she knew he hadn't fallen asleep yet. She slipped her leg between his, and rested her lips against his skin.

Nils intertwined his fingers with hers and pulled her hand tightly around his middle. After a long and cleansing sigh, he said, "I feel….better." A true and sincere smile plastered his face. He pressed himself back into her and absorbed her presence. "I feel a lot…better."

Jillian laughed softly, "It's my job, as CMO, to make the Captain of the ship feel better." She kissed up his back towards his neck, "…I've missed you so much."

"I missed you too…" The satisfaction he felt as he melted into the gorgeous woman behind him made him want to sleep. But the exhilaration from their activities had his blood pumping wildly. "You know, we probably shouldn't have done that. I imagine some regulation has been breached here today… But I certainly did enjoy breaching…it…" He slowly rolled onto his back and turned his head to gaze at Jillian.

She smiled at him, half trying to hide the knot tnat was beginning to form in the pit of her stomach. She hadn't fooled herself, she knew he didn't want to get back together, but she wasn't going to let that stop her from enjoying the moment. There wasn't anyone else in the universe she wanted to be with and if she had to wait a hundred years for him to tell her he was ready, she would wait, "Nils…" she said softly, "I…" her voice trailed off.

That didn't sound good. The plastered smile began to falter. "What is it?"

She rolled onto her side, cuddling up as close to him as she could get, "I…know this didn't mean anything, but I….I love you."

"What? It didn't mean anything?" Nothing could be wronger. "Jillian, I've never stopped loving you. And it meant… It meant everything. It means everything!"

She nuzzled her face into his neck, attempting to hide the huge smile that had exploded across her face, "I love you, I always will," she whispered.

"I love you too," he said. His hands traced a line from her hand, which was draped over his chest, up her arm and down her side. "So… What do we do?" His tone was light, and so was his heart. But he also knew there were real roadblocks to their relationship. Unbelievably, he was willing to put his spiritual convictions aside. That realization surprised him. But he couldn't lose her again… Not like that. He couldn't help but feel he'd lost Jachin like that. And Command… Well, certainly that would be an obstacle. "I don't know what we do next."

She let out a soft sigh, "We try so hard to change what we are…our title, I mean." She looked up at him, "Do we even have one? Do we need one?"

"I don't know how to label what it is we have… I don't really even know what it is." Nils sighed and his countenance darkened a bit. "We should probably try to keep things more professional for a while. I mean… Only for a little while, and then we can figure out what we have here… My posting as CO is only temporary. As soon as D'Rinax moves someone into the position permanently I can resume Chief of Science and then… Then…" Nils smiled and pulled her close. "Then we'll be together… And talk about the future."

She nodded in agreement, "So…this shouldn't happen again. I mean, not while you're in command." She took a deep breath, "And I think I"m OK with that. It will be hard, but I know you need this time to focus on your career. You'll love this new position, I know it." She kissed him, "Just don't love it too much, OK?" She joked.

"Don't worry about that… And I'm not focussed on 'my career.'" The Bajoran laughed at the notion. "It's not about career. It's about my duty." His eyes glazed over and he thought back to the disaster that had been his first assigment as CO. The Constitution would be in refit for months. Then he thought about Jenny Anderson and what had happened to her on his watch. "No… This is me following orders…that's it." He squeezed her again. "As soon as I get out of this bed we're crewmates and thats it….for a while. A short while!"

"In that case, I plan on keeping you in this bed as long as possible", she said playfully while climbing on top of him. Their laughter was suddenly interrupted by the whisper of a voice coming from the other room, Jillian turned towards the door, "What was that?"

=/\=….Sir…Captain, Sir? Please respond…=/\=

Nils jumped at the sound of his comm badge. He gently pushed Jillian aside and scurried over to his pile of clothes.

=/\= Captain Torrik, respond. =/\=

Jillian giggled at the sight of Nils dancing around naked, trying to find his comm badge, "Now that's something you don't see everyday!"

He shot her a goofy grin and drew himself up to his full six feet one inches… "It's good, right?" After a healthy laugh he stuggled through his clothes and pulled out his badge. After tapping it lightly he said, "That's temporary commanding officer Torrik… Go ahead."

=/\= You're needed on the bridge, sir, =/\= said a female. The Vulcan.

"On my…give me a few minutes. I'm not dressed," he sputtered. "No…I've just showered." There's no way I can maintain a Command position. "Torrik out." When the connection was broken, he stepped awkwardly towards Jillian. "Well…they need me. So…I… Guess I'm gonna go. Buddy." He held out his hand for her shake.

She pulled a blanket across her body and stood up, "Yeah, see you around. Thanks for stopping by….Sir." She added, along with a friendly punch to the arm. There was a comfortably silence as the two stood looking at each other. The end of their encounter.

"Well then…I'll see you on shift," Nils said, feeling very good about where they were for once. He instinctively leaned in and kissed her one more time. She responded so willingly and aggressively that his body reacted. Getting into the uniform would be an issue. "Sorry…Ok that's it…"

Jillian pushed off of him, forcing herself back a few steps, "You're right….No more…Sorry, Sir."

Nils straightened out his tunic while inspecting his appearance in the mirror.

"You look perfect, Captain. Now get out of here before I lose my will power."

He was about to say something else but decided better to hold his tongue. He flashed her one last grin and exited her quarters. Jillian fell back onto her bed and pulled his pillow close to her body. She could still smell him. She closed her eyes and had beautiful dreams.

This romance brought to you by: Nils & Jils aka Team BowChickaWowWow
Originally Posted 7-30-2008

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