Part II

Auric was infuriated beyond belief. Standing up, with his sheer rage keeping him surefooted in the pitching deck of the starship, Auric was at the "Lieutenant Commander's" side in an instant. Pulling the Bowie Knife from its sheath at his back, Auric held it dangerously close to O'Fallen's throat. Getting in close to his ear so that the two of them are the only ones that can hear the conversation, Auric started speaking very slowly to the man. "O'Fallen, what you just did was treason, insubordination, stuipd, and every other inexcusable action that an Executive Officer could hope to perform. Since this attack constitutes a time of aggression, I have the right to execute you on the spot, and I am a Klingon's patience away from doing so right here on the Bridge." Pushing the knife to his throat, Auric said, "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't do it…" Not actually speaking to his Captain, the XO just swallowed deeply and audibly, and began to quietly emit an almost whining noise from deep in his throat. "What I thought, all brawn, no brain. I don't wanna spoil my blade with your blood…from this point forward, consider yourself stripped of your rank, and relieved of duty." Stepping back, he said aloud, "Security! Escort Mr. O'Fallen, and the Helmswoman here to the Brig. They are to be put on bread and water rations, and are to have no visitors."

Sighing deeply, Auric turned around, "Comm, tell Engineering to start powering down all non-essential systems. We're gonna need all the spare energy we can to try and get this thing back to normal…or as normal as possible. Also, if we're powered down, we'll look like we're adrift…and the Dominion vessel should leave us be…Ops, have security teams stationed at regular intervals around the ship, ready for the possibility of boarding parties. That is all people, and if anyone so much as things about disobeying an order, I will shoot you myself." Nodding, Auric then drew the phaser from his hip, set it to stun, and shot Mr. O'Fallen in the neck, sending it flopping back, and his former XO falling to the ground. "Take him away…" he said to the stunned Security team now gawking at their Captain, "NOW!"

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Auric Telar


Another shift, another ration…

Pev settled in his seat next to Rezz, his Nausicaan second. Rezz was everything Pev was not in terms of size, yet the two were perfectly in synch when it came to the job. Rezz was one of two Nausicaans aboard ship, but both had come to the conclusion early that the other one was a douchebag who would soon wind up on the wrong side of a hatchway, and no one would miss him.

Pev scratched absently at the skin around his eyepatch.

"How's it feeling?" asked Rezz.

"Pus-filled and warm. Like I've got a bowl of gagh in my eye socket," muttered Pev, pulling a small hypo from the pouch on his belt. He inserted a glass capsule filled with a dark red liquid into the base of the device, clicked it into place, and stuck the syringe against his neck. Depressing the trigger, the liquid was intantly converted into a gas, and injected through his skin cells into his blood stream. Pev, who has been holding his breath, exhaled sharply.

"How 'bout a drink?" asked Rezz, standing up.

"Something good," said Pev, noticibly relaxing. "Then I need to go see the Captain. Something's in the works, and I need to start doing my recon, if you know what I mean."

Rezz laughed, a deep bass sound that turned heads. "I know what you mean, Cy-bear, and you wish."

Cy-bear. Pev smiled at the epithet. Cyborg bear. One drunken night it's how Rezz had referred to the Chief of Security, and Pev had been too stunned to get angry. Now it had become a nickname, albeit one that no one besides the massive Nausicaan used. Pev's mind wandered back to that night. There had been a death, he remembered. He'd torn someone's throat out over something. Someone had gone mad from the voices. It was in the report. Pev understood that. He knew the voices personally. One of the voices had yelled Leave him alone! He didn't do anything!, but the voices would do that from time to time to try and confuse him. Keeping the peace. No other choice. Which also happened from time to time, he told the Captain, who understood, and anyway, fresh meat was hard to come by on this ship, and a S'ti'ach's gotta eat, doesn't he? He wondered what happened to the human's female companion. He was fairly certain he'd seen her walking into the crew's mess the next day as Pev casually chewed on a forearm, but she'd turned white and run off, and he hadn't seen her since.

No, he thought. That's not right. Medical had issued a report. She'd hung herself in her quarters. Pev remembered now because part of her was still in the freezer.

Rezz returned with two glasses filled with amber liquid over ice.

"To a lasting peace," said the giant, clinking his glass against Pev's.

"Of the action," finished the fuzzy blue COS.

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Pev


Kamenze Taray, refreshed after a sonic shower, pulled on the long boots over her tight black leggings. The leggings she found were comfortable and form fitting while allowing her the most movement for fighting. The boots had been hand made for her, built flexible for fighting, yes, but built strong for running, which she avoided but was sometimes the best course of action. She had them made tall because she never knew where she would find herself and she hated getting her feet wet. Along the side there were two hidden pockets, on for her dagger, the other for her second dagger. The third dagger was so well hidden sometimes she forgot where it was.

Next, she put on the white shirt, lose at the arms with a bit of room so that no one could guess how strong, or not, she was. Over that she started to lase the bodice. It was red leather, fitted her snuggly and was also hand build for her, specifically designed, like all her clothes, for a specific reason.
The reason: It made her boobs look great.

She glanced out the window as she wove the lacing back and worth across her chest, tightening all the right spots. Then she glanced back again. She stopped what she was doing and leaped over the reclining lounge in her way to stand fully in front of the vista out her window. There was a beautiful little planet hanging off the port window…a planet they should have left behind hours ago.

"Those space farting gally-whilps! Do they call those heads on their shoulders or a blessed dead Tribble! What fool has broke us adrift here! I'll kills them all!" She jumped back over the lounger, pausing from her angry tirade for just a moments smile at the place of such fun last night and jammed her fist into the com panel. "Computer, captain to make ship wide announcement!"

The low, male voice of the computer came though the speaker to her, "Captain, as you asked me to remind you the last time you made a ship wide announcement," suddenly the voice shifted to her own voice,"K, don't make ship wide announcement if you only want to yells at the crew."

"Oh, so as I did…..Well, computer, find the nearest speaker to each member of the crew and transmit this message! 'I know…"

The computer interrupted her again." At what sound level?"

"J'kell? Bloodly Loud!"

"Captain, as I may remind you," Again, her voice came back over the comm."K, if you yell at only the crew and use the highest volume level the passengers will here."

"Oh, so as that's true. Well, medium level, please…if you'll allow me, Mr. Computer?"

"Continue."

"Right. 'Now here this! Crew, I know you are all on board for one reason and one reason only…and it's not your unending love for me. It's riches. Riches so as you can be anywhere but on this rusty boat. Riches that will allow you to live out those dreams that each one of you has hidden somewhere in your shapeless minds? Let it be know that I am on the same quest.Yes, your fearless leader would also like to move on some day to greener pastures. Now that we have made this all abundantly clear to ourselves my I suggest that…YOU MOVE THIS BLOODY SHIP AWAY FROM THE PLANET WE JUST ROBBED AND LOOK FOR A NEW, JUICY, PROFITABLE TARGET? You blithering bunch of rum puncheon, beanraked, sottish, bone-headed as a backwards blowfish space dogs! You're better fit for garbage scowl duty then living on a ship such as this! You'd think that a…"

"Captain, the transmission has been cut."

"WHAT!"

"By order of the XO."

"Oh. Well….how much did I get in?"

"Up to sottish, I believe."

"Good, they deserved that one."

She heard a small whimper, looked around the cabin and spotted the dog looking at her questioningly. "What? You…I guess I should have given you a name so as I could yell at you. Stop looking at me like that! What??? Oh, you can have what left on the table. But listen, you! You better start pulling your weight around here or next time rations are low mutt will be on the menu! Hears me? I'll let you live today but I could eat you in the morning!"

The dog lowered his ears and slowly slinked over to the table, dropping his only toy, a ring of keys, onto the floor before carefully nosing last nights dinner into his mouth.

As soon as Kamenze left he walked over and peed on the edge of her bed.

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Camenze Taray


Bliss. Peace. Pure ecstasy. Lounging back against the wall, Simon rested his hands behind his head. Okay, so the being shot part wasn’t all that fun, but waking up in here was beautiful. And being stripped of rank and duties. Even better! No more LCDR Business. No more orders no more worrying about people’s lives. It was like a holiday. A Bread-and-Water holiday. The only downside was that he took a bloody fine officer down with him. Sighing, he shook his head. Even when being removed from his post he seemed to destroy other people’s lives. It wasn’t fair!

Getting up, he moved over to the wall. “Hey, Thorne? Sorry about this.” There was no response. Had the Captain shot her too? “Thorne? You there?” Still no response, Simon walked back and sat down thinking hard. Sure, this probably meant the NZ penal colony, but he’d lived through that before gotten out of it and back into Starfleet before. He just hoped that he’d live long enough to see it. Okay, so the Captain would be well within his rights to have him shot, but Simon knew Starfleet Law. Since the situation was now over, a trail would have to be held. And Simon knew trials like the back of his hand.

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


SS Antonio de Silva Baca
2213 Hours

Kerrin Schaeffer waited until Liena had a good five minutes lead before she exited the Antonio’s laundry facility. A few of her clients preferred the relationship be kept discreet. The secrecy was important to Liena, as she needed to maintain her authority as a helm officer and Kerrin found the minor subterfuge entertaining, in its own way.

On this ship, the one-time archeologist was willing to accept such small gifts of joy in whatever odd packaging they arrived.

Making her way back to Sweeney’s (And what was the deal with Finn naming his bar after a mythical murderous barber, anyway?), she recalled the look she’d caught on Gorsky’s face after the haunting dance T’Shaini had performed earlier that evening. It had warmed her heart at the same time it sliced at her conscience. He was, had been and hopefully would continue to be a cherished friend. Few whores could claim that much but then, she hadn’t always been a prostitute, had she? No more than Alex had been a bar boy or T’Shaini a dancer or Finn…

Instinctively, her thoughts ducked aside from the one parcel of happiness that wasn’t hers to open. Kerrin was a whore, pure and simple, but she wasn’t a liar or a thief. The distinction was important in a world where ‘right’ and ‘survival’ seldom travelled the same road.

Somewhere in the distance, the sound of the captain’s voice in full ‘berate’ mode echoed throughout the corridor. Kerrin thought this might have something to do with the complete lack of movement from the vessel since their last… docking.

Well, not for her the worries of the upper decks. Longer trips meant better pay and better pay meant she could keep flying. Like Finn always said, “It’s harder to hit a moving target.”

Wow, what was that, a whole two seconds she didn’t think of him? Get over it, Schaeffer…

“Hello, lovely lady.”

Kerrin turned towards the speaker, gracious smile automatically planting itself on her face. In the dimness of the corridor a medium-height male of indistinct heritage stepped forward out of an open doorway. Kerrin’s smile dropped like a dead leaf from a winter tree.

“I don’t deal with thieves,” she said coldly, turning away, only to walk smack into the wall of another man, this one bald, tattooed and sporting a recently broken nose. Beyond him, a Klingon (Toq, she remembered his name from bar chat) flourished a Qis.

She turned back to the first man, Moe, Finn had called him.

“I understand you’re a friend of Harry’s,” he said, backing her into the mass of his associate. “I just wondered if you’d be so kind as to deliver a message for me.”

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Harry Finn


Extricating herself none to gently from the crew at the bar, Last time I try that T’Shaini moved quickly so that no one would mistake her intent. Veering away from her original thought of ‘backstage’ because, well that was far too close, and she had spent the better part of her time on this ship avoiding any sort of contact, she had no desire to make ‘friends’ now.

*whoosh*

She leaned for a moment against the closed doors and breathed a sigh of relief. She did not want to hear their life stories, why did they always feel compelled to tell her everything? Pushing herself away from the door she decided to take a quick walk and then slip in unnoticed in time to prepare for her next set. Turning the corner she took in an unwelcome site. The broad back of the Klingon she had sent to security the other night. Damn them She considered just turning around and returning to the bar when she heard

“I understand you’re a friend of Harry’s,” “I just wondered if you’d be so kind as to deliver a message for me.”

Wondering who the bulk of the Klingon was covering, she slipped the phaser that somehow had not made it back behind the bar out and readied it.

“I am acquainted with Harry as well, perhaps I can be of assistance?”

The group spread like the proverbial red sea and revealed Kerrin in their midst, luckily looking none the worse for wear. She saw a wariness slide over their faces as they recognized her from the previous night, which quickly began to subside as they calculated their odds minus the element of surprise. Steeling herself for what may come, she nodded to Kerrin, indicating that she should step away. There was always a chance they would just let her go.

“HEY! T’Shaini you forgot this!” She saw the young man from the bar, accompanied by his three friends holding out the veil that she had left with Alex. Ordinarily I would kill him for this. Swarming in, all three tried to hand it to her before they registered the rest of the scene in the corridor…

“Hey guys…great show, right?”

Ahh, the innocence of youth. T’Shaini smiled brightly at the two groups and took Kerrin by the arm.

“I do thank you for escorting my friend back, it was indeed chivalrous of you.” She turned on her heel, hooked her other arm around whatever his name was and tried not to hold her breath as they made their exit back to the bar. Throwing a quick look over her shoulder she saw the three figures just staring dumbly down after them. They will be back.

“So, any thing in particular you would like to see for the next show?”
I cannot believe I just said that.

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by T'Shaini


Part 1


Cadet Summer Cruise
U.S.S. Belfast ~ Week 8

It was meant to be a way for cadets to learn the ropes in a guarded, closely monitored environment. Pretty simple plan really. Fifty Cadets, and a crew of one hundred officers and enlisted men, most serving their first or second tours. They would take the ship out, run a few missions, and maybe play a few war games over the course of a summer. It was a fool proof plan, thought up by a group of admirals and captains who's long teeth and many years of service had earned them the right to sit around a table in San Fransisco and tell War Stories. Of course, if they could eek out a training schedule, or drop a few pearls of wisdom for the Instructors to impart… that was great too.

Of course, real life has a funny way of turning out a little different than a group of retired flag officers and their "Training Doctrine." Such was to be the Belfast's fate. The vessel was space-worthy enough, albeit outdated and woefully neglected. and with the strains being put on the fleet to meet patrol schedules, mission requirements, and satisfy President Bacco's Exploration initiative, there were very few top line vessels to be had for training purposes. the Admirals had decided, likely over numerous mugs of coffee, and inspired by a Kirk story to refit several of the old Constitution class ships sitting in mothballs at various yards around the Federation. And so it had come to be that on a dreary day in May, Nate Benjamin and a group of forty nine other fresh faced first year cadets had found themselves standing on a perfectly manicured lawn at the sprawling complexes in San Fransisco, kissing parents and waving goodbye to friends and onlookers. Proud families and eager cadets cast their eyes skyward as the Red Squadron flew in a tight formation above them, and their first Big adventure in the fleet awaited them.

That had been eight weeks ago.

Nowadays, the Belfast's crew numbered in the low sixties. Many of those same fresh faced cadets were either dead or injured, and their big adventure had morphed violently into something out of a horror film. After a week and a half of exploring the Gamma Quadrant, the Belfast had been ordered to put back to the Alpha quadrant. Apparently there was a renewed Dominion threat and , quite logically, the Brass didn't want a boat full of cadets getting themselves shot up by the Jem'Hadar. On their way back to the wormhole however, the Belfast had come upon a bit of a hindrance. Jem Hadar patrols had multiplied in the area, and the once proud cruiser was simply no match for them. But the stone faced Warriors hadn't simply killed them. For reasons unbeknownst to the crew, they'd been spared. But every now and then, a Dominion scout would drop by and take a few shots at them.

The captain's iron fist not withstanding, the simple drudgery of everyday life aboard a floating tomb was beginning to take a toll on her occupants. Morale had become all but non-exsistant, and murmurs of hopelessness had begun creeping up in small circles. But hopelessness wasn't universal, and certainly some of the crew were still clinging to their faith in some deity, or that the Federation would save them. But day after day, and as the days turned over to weeks, faith was questioned, and confidence eroded. Morale was the first to go. Motivation would follow shortly thereafter, and soon discipline would fade as well.

It was some way to spend a summer…..

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Nathan Benjamin, Tatiana Thorne and Clagh

Part II


0750. Day Fifty Seven. Wednesday.

The room was as quiet as a grave when the first tendrils of consciousness began creeping into the boy's sleeping form. Like a thief in the night, the intruder began to steal the sleeping youth's fantasies until finally his eyes sprang open, shattering the fragile reality his mind had spun while he slept. As the last wisps of the dream were chased into shadow by the coming day, Nate Benjamin sat up in his rack.

"Ugh." he said, casting a sidelong glance at the chrono on the wall. "Another day of shitty brig duty." He said, stretching. "And I still gotta look at your ugly grill!"

"Your humor is as fruitless as your attempts to find a woman," the Klingon cadet growled at his roommate. The human boy was more annoying in the morning than at any other time. Although he is quite annoying at other times as well. the cadet reflected. He had awoken early to complete his morning training ritual, so Clagh was ready to eat now. "Make haste little one, I wish to eat before our shift starts. If I am to die of boredom then I wish to have a full stomach." He flung his sweaty work-out towel at the youth.

Casting the offensive thing aside, Nate swung his legs over to the side of the cot. "You know… before your scaly ass came barging in here the other day.. I was about to plant a flag in Ensign what'ser tits." He rose, grabbing his uniform pants off the chair beside their bunk beds. "But for some reason, a big ass disgruntled Klingon sent her running out of here." He pulled the pants on, hopping about as he continued. "So don't give me any shit about not pulling women around here… and who's day is it to guard Lieutenant Ta-Ta? Speaking of women… that one's hot!" Nate finished dressing as he informed Clagh of some of the things he'd been wanting to do with, or if she weren't game, TO a certain incarcerated Helmswoman. Moments later he grabbed the dirty uniform jacket off the rack and walked out into the cramped corridors, Clagh dwarfing him as they ambled toward the mess hall.

The Klingon closed his eyes and sighed at his roommate's sexual compulsions. It was a very human reaction and as soon as he realized he had done it Clagh let a low growl escape from his lips. "She would make any officer a fine mate," he agreed. "but you only want to 'plant your flag in her' for the purpose of boasting about it as if it was a victory. Those are the actions of an honorless pe'taQ." The two turned a corner and stepped into a lift. "Deck Six," the cadet said and felt the old technology shudder to life as the lift moved. "Has any of these women ever been more than a conquest to you?" he asked the human. Not that conquests were bad, to Klingons they were the ultimate form of mating but Cadet Benjamin's conquests seemed to last twenty minutes and then it was on to the next campaign.

Nate shrugged, then frowned thoughtfully. "Wait… See.. thats' why there's never gonna be a house of Clagh… right there. You're all sensitive to these women." the boy shook an accusing finger at him. "You need to quit all that. Human chicks ain't like those Klingon ones. They're devious… like Romulans." He clapped the burly cadet on the shoulder as they rounded a corner. "You have to get in and get what you want before they figure out some new way to ruin you. Believe me Clagh… I've seen it happen to lots of dudes."

"If you continue to treat these women so dishonorably there will certainly be no House of Benjamin either. Their brothers or fathers will hunt you down and take your flag planting ability," Clagh explained, drawing some small pleasure at the stricken look on the cadet's features. "If it were on Qo'noS…well we are not on Qo'noS though, we are on a useless piece of junk," he remarked, fatigue starting to show on the Klingon. The two came to the doors of the messhall at the same moment two other cadets were about to enter. "Zheng, T'Vol, you are supposed to be guarding the prisoners," Clagh said, his lip curling slightly. The Klingon had an intense dislike for T'Vol, who was part Romulan.

"We decided to take an early break.." Zheng replied. "they're not going to escape anytime soon." The cadet's open admittance to his dereliction of duty was an example of how things were slipping aboard the training vessel. The Klingon's hand became a fist as he felt anger build inside of him. "Since you're so worried about them, perhaps you should start your shift early?" T'Vol suggested. Perhaps I should pound your sneaky face to a bloody pulp you Romulan bastard.

"You guys are chewed up." Nate offered casually. "what if Captain Dick were to see you two out jerkin around while his prisoners are left…. alone?"

"Then, as I said, perhaps you ought to start your shift early." Zheng replied with a shrug. "We wouldn't want Captain "Dick" to become agitated. Would we T'Vol?"

The Romulan/Vulcan Hybrid shook his head. "Indeed we would not. It might make things more…. uneasy."

Clagh and Nate watched as the two turned on their heels and walked off without another word. The growl emanating from his partner's throat was audible even form a foot or so away. Nate turned to him, shaking his head. "See there?" He asked, indicating the cadets' retreating forms. "Just like I was saying… just like a Romulan." He sighed. "C'mon dude… Let's get down there before something stupid happens."

Tatiana paced the length of her cell, cursing under her breath. Her vocabulary had shortened considerably since her incarceration to include only words to curse both the Captain and Executive Officer and her very violent plans for them. She couldn't believe she had ended up in the brig for following an order, she had always assumed that she be thrown down there for her constant need to speak her mind.

Her outward appearance in the cell had changed dramatically. Thorne wasn't vain, but she knew she had some semblance of beauty, something the Captain's less than comforting "Prisoner Conditions" was slowly taking away from her. A diet of only bread and water morphed her normally lithe body into a slow mass of…nothing. Her hair, which was something she valued about herself externally above all else, hung frayed and greasy down her back. Her uniform, which at the moment was her only form of clothing, screamed at her to be retired from the sweating she'd done in her effort to get away from Security.

She looked around the room, and noticed no one was around.

“This is ridiculous,” she spoke, “The damned Cadets don’t even take it seriously enough to show up.”

She sat down, her irritation and anger continually rising. She wanted out, and one way or another she'd get it. All she had was her mind and scheming was something she knew could be done as easily as it was for her to fly the Belfast.

The Klingon heard the woman pilot's complaint but decided to ignore it. He entered the corridor of the brig, where the holding rooms were situated, while Benjamin logged in at the security desk. He checked the containment fields for the cells making sure that each one was secure before proceeding down to individually check on the cell's occupants. They were holding a medical cadet who had gone hysterical and tried to stab one of her patients. The Klingon regarded the cadet with pity as she lay whimpering on the bed within her cell. She needed to be in a mental health facility not locked away in a cell. But their CMO was almost as incompetent as the bridge crew and so the woman found herself confined to solitude.

"It will be okay, Jennifer," Clagh said as gently as the warrior could manage. He had attended Academy classes with the woman and remembered her bright, optimistic perspective from a time when the threat of a shadow hadn't hung over them. Cadet Jennifer Finch looked at Clagh, she almost acted as if she recognized him before curling back up on her cot. It's the strain of this mission that caused her to lose her mind. All our officers are useless. There's not an honorable one among them. If this is the state of the Federation…no, I will not give in to doubt or fear.

The cadet moved to the next group of cells. Held within these two were a helm officer and the XO, who had attempted mutiny and received time in the brig for the duration of the mission. If it were left to me, the entire Command Team would be in these cells. The XO appeared to be sleeping, while the helm officer was sitting in her cell wasting away. It was a bone of contention with the Klingon. The captain seemed to want to starve the two officers to death and be rid of them. In the Klingon's mind it was the act of a coward. And if it weren't bad enough, Clagh found himself playing a role in the dishonorable deed as he watched the meager rations reduce the two officers to spectres of their former selves.

"Hello Lieutenant, are you ready for your morning meal?" Clagh asked.

"Oh yes, I'm looking forward to the very fulfilling meal you have for me," she responded from her seat and sighed, "Lay it on me Clagh, I am hungry."

Tatiana stood and walked towards the cell opening and her mind clicked. Clagh was a Klingon and exalted honor above all else, she could use that to her advantage. And even if it took her moral compass spinning in protest, her freedom was more important than whatever guilt she'd suffer afterwards for using the young cadet. Her expression, which had been a mixture of anger and tiredness, now reflected her hope that her plan would work.

"Clagh, let me talk to you about something," she began, her voice dripping with patience and optimism she didn't have, "I need your help. I have to get out of here, and your friend over there needs to get out too."

The words 'Lay it on me Clagh, I am hungry,' got his attention, as the cadet thought of all the double meanings that the words might hold. I have been listening to Nate too much. the Klingon realized, as the officer approached the energy field that separated them. His mind raced as he listened to the officer suggest that he aid her in some form of escape. He glanced back at Cadet Finch. "She needs medical attention, not to become a fugitive.." Is it more dishonorable to partake in a comrade's suffering or to help them and defy a superior's orders? The Klingon shifted uncomfortably as he weighed his options.

"What do you intend to do? Steal a shuttle and escape? The captain would shoot you down in the process," Clagh said.

"I have no intention of leaving the Belfast. One of two things is going to happen. Either one, the Captian comes quietly to the brig after being relieved of duty or two, the Captain comes to the brig unconscious after his face is introduced to my fist. Oh and Ti'Brus along with him. They must go, whether they like it or not. And don't worry, I have friends on the bridge who like me more or hate me less than the Captain. Anyway, regarding your friend, she won't get medical attention as long as she is here. You and I both know that Telar isn't going to see to it that she's healthy," Tatiana responded.

"Uh oh…. there's some scheming going on over here." the tow headed cadet chirped as he ambled over, taking time only for the briefest glance inside Finch's cell as he passed her by. It barely registered on his face, but a pang of pity made it's way through him when he saw her. All posturing and teen bravado aside, Nate had spent some time with the Medical cadet. they'd lived together at the dorms for the first semester, not in the same room of course, but she'd been on the same floor, and they'd hung in the same social circles enough to have crossed paths a few times. He knew that she was just about the most compassionate person that he'd ever met, and that she was going to be a brilliant doctor someday. The day that the cadets had boarded the Belfast, Jennifer's family had doted on her, and their public display of affection had left the boy wishing that his own parents could have been there. But he hadn't seen them since Christmas break, and that was over a computer screen.

Shaking away the offending emotions, he deposited himself into a chair outside Thorne's cell, and behind Clagh. "See Clagh…. check her out. Trying to get us to help her escape already…. We haven't even been here five minutes."

"Oh, there's my favorite cadet. I knew you would be around sooner or later," she said sarcastically, "What wisdom about women do you have for us today? I take it that you've moved on to how we of the "lesser" gender always have a scheme up our sleeves?"

Tatiana rolled her eyes and continued on, "I'm not here to talk about all the stupidity you spew on a daily basis, I'm here to get out. Even you, the asshole above all assholes, realizes that Telar needs to be stopped before one of you ends up here simply because you looked at the man the wrong way."

Shaking his head, Benjamin stood. "Ok…Captain Dick hasn't done anything to me yet… or my partner here. For all we know… you tried to take over the ship or help out the Rockies or something. You and Commander O'Fallen were likely involved in some heavy underhanded shit huh?" He accused, pointing a finger as his often overactive imagination grabbed the wheel. "I bet you guys have some accomplices running around down here and everything."

Clagh listened to the conversation half-heartedly, his thoughts were still on Cadet Finch. The other two could bash each other all they wanted but it wasn't getting Jennifer any closer to medical aid or a counsellor. "If it was a conspiracy to give the ship to the Dominion then they are more desperate than I believe them to be. This ship is a worthless piece of trash. Even a disavowed Ferengi would turn it down," Clagh stated. "And the crew is of no importance, there are no great tacticians or important officers crewing this vessel, no offense to you Lieutenant, but we are the dregs of the Fleet. The Dominion merely saw a chance to thin out our numbers, so I doubt she and the XO were betraying us. The Dominion would laugh in their faces if they were offered the Belfast."

"What was the magnitude of your participation in the mutiny?" the cadet asked the officer. "If you expect us to help..we need to know details. And don't try to deceive a Klingon warrior, everyone else who has usually ends up paying for it."

"Yes because I don't want to be beaten by a bat'leth? Anyway, you," she said pointing to the cadet from hell, "have it wrong. I dislike O'Fallen nearly as much as I do Telar. All I did was obey an order from O'Fallen not to fly the ship directly into the Dominion ship or directly into their line of fire. If you had seen the shield strength we had left you would have listened to O'Fallen too. There's no conspiracy to hand this ship over to the Jem'Hadar," she turned her attention back to Clagh, "So did I pass your truth test cadet?"

Cowards. Clagh thought. Unsure about Thorne's motives, he deferred to his fellow cadet. "What do you think?" he asked Nate.

Shrugging, Nate pieced her story together. "So… We've got like.. forty people left on the ship. Most of us are cadets. Why would Telar throw his XO, and the chief helm officer in the brig for just doing what they thought was best in battle?" He glanced up at Clagh, who's mind was no doubt pondering the same things. "That shit doesn't make any sense."

"Perhaps he is no longer in control of his mental faculties? It does not stand to reason why he would place these officers on a diet of bread and water. If he is mad then it would not be considered mutiny to remove him from Command," Clagh ventured. "But we would need the assistance of a senior officer and the Chief Medical Officer." The same officer who placed Jennifer in solitary confinement. Back to square one. "I doubt Commander Ti'Brus would support us. He seems wrapped up in a world that exists only in his own mind."

"Well before I got stuck here, I'd be your senior officer…but now that I'm here, trying to find another senior officer is going to be hard," Tatiana added, "So why don't you admit that you're out of options and let me out."

"Or we could just leave you where you are," Clagh growled in reply. "We are the ones who will be punished for even talking to you about this..I am not entirely certain…there is a way to convince me however." He looked at Benjamin who had a grin on his face. "No, not that," Clagh replied, knowing what the youth was thinking. He turned back to Thorne. "Give me your command codes so I can access the computer logs and verify your story," the Klingon stated, then added, "It is the only way I can be convinced to help you. Nate might settle for a look at your ta-tas but I need to know if what you've told us is the truth."

"My ta-tas?" she asked, her eyes narrowing at Cadet Benjamin, "I'll deal with that later, you want my command codes? Fine," she said defeated. "Thorne, theta, one, one, eight. Go check your story and when you're done let me out."

The Klingon turned and made his way to the security desk. Upon being relieved of duty, Thorne's codes had been deactivated from all command functions such as weapon's control and ship's status but Clagh just wanted the bridge archives at that point. Cross-checking the computer logs, Clagh found what he was looking for, as he watched the logs he noticed that Captain Telar's behaviour grew more and more bizarre. The tension between the Captain and his First Officer was apparent from the beginning. Clagh scowled as the CO drew his blade and brandished it in the XO's face. In the Klingon fleet such circumstances might have been considered normal but this was Starfleet, CO's were expected to find a solution without escalating existing problems.

He finished the logs and closed out the files. Moving through the door behind him, Clagh entered the armory and removed three phaser pistols and three rifles from the room. He clipped one pistol on his belt and carried the others back to the corridor. He handed Nate a pistol and rifle as he said, "She was telling the truth. The captain's behaviour is bizarre..I think he has suffered some sort of mental breakdown." Clagh noticed that the XO was standing close by listening. We need his help. the security cadet realized.

"Commander O'Fallen, I am going to release you also," Clagh informed the man, "but Lt. Thorne is assuming command of the ship. I have witnessed your actions on the bridge, and even though you were acting under duress, your actions escalated the hostilities between yourself and Captain Telar and endangered the crew. I would like for you to act as the lieutenant's XO. I am not going to give you a weapon. You will not need one and if the change of command fails you can always say we forced you to come with us."

"Ready?" he asked Nate, who nodded and stood ready with his weapon. Clagh dropped the energy field on the two cells and then handed a phaser rifle and pistol to Thorne. "What are your orders Captain?" the Klingon asked Thorne.

She grabbed her phaser, and stepped beyond the threshold the cell,"Shoot only those who try to shoot us. Stun only. Telar comes down to the brig, but unlike him we are going to make his living conditions better than ours. I'm crazy, not cruel," Her gaze moved to O'Fallen, "Remember our conditions O'Fallen, I won't hesitate to put you back down here."

She looked to her motley crew, "Let's get to it."

The trip to the bridge was short and the small group travelled in silence. Clagh wondered if it would be the last minutes of his career or life. Today is a good day to die. the cadet realized as the lift halted and the doors opened. He and Nate moved out of the lift quickly, each of them taking one direction, leaving Lieutenant Thorne the middle of the bridge and Captain Telar specifically. "Surrender, you will not be harmed!" the Klingon barked as he pushed the Tactical Officer away from her console. Without wasting time on words, Captain Telar drew his phaser pistols and began firing upon the group. Clagh bared his teeth in fury as a phaser pulse meant for him hit the Tactical officer in the back. He and Nate returned fire and Telar crumpled to the deck as his form was illuminated by phaser beam light.

A cry of distress, caused Clagh to turn in Nate's direction. Commander Ti'Brus had the cadet in a neck pinch that looked like a death hold. With a cry of rage, Clagh pulled his dk'tagh from his boot, vaulted the console separating himself and the Vulcan and slashed down with the weapon. The Vulcan gasped in pain as the Klingon blade sheared off the hand that was administering the nerve pinch. "Pe'taQ!" Clagh yelled as he pushed the officer to the floor. The cadet swung his attention back to the rest of the bridge. Its occupants stared at him in shock. "Thanks dude," Nate said as he swung his weapon over the bridge.

Clagh sheathed his dagger and moved towards Telar, he disarmed the unconscious man, taking his pistols and knife then placed the former captain in restraints. When he was finished Clagh turned to Thorne and said, "The ship is yours, what now?"

"First order of business, you," she said pointing to an operations officer, "take Ti'Brus to Sickbay, he needs a "hand" with treatment, and after you're done there go down to the brig to free Finch. She needs to see a doctor. If the CMO refuses to treat her, tell him what happened here."

The officer nodded slowly, her eyes shining with fear. Tatiana's eyes ran over the faces of all the remaining conscious bridge officers and she spoke again,

"Now, let's move on. We need to repair the ship before we head back to the Alpha Quadrant, we have people here that need a Counselor and better doctors than we can offer. They and the repairing of the Belfast are our first priority. Oh, and everyone say welcome back to Commander O'Fallen, he's back with us. I guess we need to spread the information now, and keep more mutinies from occuring, I'm not here to be a dictator all I want is to get home with without losing more people to battles backed by a deranged Captain. Tell those who even entertain the thought of pulling a mutiny that they won't succeed, so don't even try."

"We're with you lieutenant," the helm officer said. There were nods of acknowledgement and verbal affirmations as the crew began damage assessment and repairs whilst Ti'Brus was transported to sickbay. Clagh took it upon himself to secure the Captain in the brig.

"I will have a counsellor visit you as soon as possible," Clagh told the man through the energy barrier. He crossed over to Finch's cell, dropped the energy field and scooped the female cadet up in his arms. "It's going to be okay Jennifer, I am taking you to sickbay," he told the woman as he left the brig area. "Clagh," she sighed softly. It was worth it. he thought.

Originally Posted 24 August by Nathan Benajamin, Tatiana Thorne and Clagh


Bloody hell, back on duty. Of all the…His mind snapped back. He needed to pay more attention to the workings of the crew than to the readiness of the ship for battle. He preferred the idea of Captain Thorne to Captain Prat-head. But still, if given the choice he’d have stayed in his cell. That gave him pause. Why hadn’t he just stayed? It would have been easier for him to have done so, stayed in the bloody cell and done the time at the penal colony on Earth.

He obeyed orders – most of the time. That was why he was on the Bridge, XO again. Sighing in a forlorn way he considered his options. Retiring was one, but that would lead to too many complications. No, staying in his current place for now was the only one. Dammit. He was looking forward to life without a uniform, but there it was. Life. Life’s a Bitch, then you die, as he had once heard. Thinking back on his life, he knew it was true, all too well.

Simon…

What the hell was that? He looked around. No one was looking at him, and no one called him by his first name anyway. This was not good. The voice was oddly familiar, but he couldn’t place it. Anyway, back to his musings of his life.

Simon…help me…

Oh god! He knew it now. The all too familiar feeling of memory washing over him. Trying hard to stay in control of himself he simply took a nearby empty chair. If the memories were coming, and he had yet to find a way to stop them, then he’d at least try and avoid an embarrassing scene.

Flames licked at the edges of his jacket. The smoke rose in billowing clouds to clog every passageway in his respiratory system. The Bridge was in shambles, the consoles destroyed and the fire suppressant system apparently off-line. Where the hell were those Engineers!? Putting that to the back of his mind, he climbed away form the ruined helm. Little sound could be heard except for the roaring flames.

Keeping low, so as to avoid the denser areas of smoke, he reached the command area of the Bridge. Two figures lay on the floor. One was the Captain, he could tell that from the man’s grey coloured hair. Who was the other? It wasn’t the Exec. Damn! Lt. Rowels. Where was she? Standing up straighter, Simon cast his eyes around, trying hard not to close them against the stinging smoke that rose from the fire.

There! “Commander!” He called out as he spotted her by Tactical control. Either she didn’t hear him or chose to ignore him. Neither was good. He managed to pick his way over the rubble and burning conduits and other things he’d rather not think about to stand next to her. “Rachael. Leave it, we’ve got to get out of here!” He grabbed her arm but she shook him off, looking at him for the first time since that morning.

He felt it. In that moment he felt the pain he’d feared since she took his name. Her eyes softened when she saw his expression and she reached out for him. The ship rocked again and they both fell to the floor. This time the roof did cave in, or at least the plating above them. Brushing off the debris, he jumped up, ready to make more arguments and actually win this debate. The sight froze him cold. She was pinned beneath a piece of deck plating. A large gash on her forehead. Dropping down he tried to lift it. Damn it was heavy.

“Lieutenant! We have to leave!” Someone grabbed him, but he shook him or her off. She was his priority, not himself, not the ship. Only her. Both his arms were grabbed from behind. He struggled, and fought. To no avail. He was dragged literally kicking and screaming to the nearest escape pod. Somehow he’d get to her, someway he’d save her. She was his life, and he’d do bloody well anything to protect it.

“Simon…” He heard her voice as clearly as he did on a summer’s day. “Help me…”

The ship exploded in a ball of fiery light. Simon watched with the cold, expressionless stare of a man who had just lost everything that meant something to him. He turned away from the porthole in the pod and shuddered. The jacket was too tight on him, so he managed to squeeze out of it. She was gone. Never again would he wear one, never again would he put on the Starfleet colours. He was done.

Breathing heavily, O’Fallen stood up from his seat on the Bridge. Damn Admiral Taggert. Damn him and all of the Admiralty. Walking over to the seat, he rested a hand on the backrest. After this he was done, no Admiral would bring him back in. He’d make sure of it.

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


SS Antonio de Silva Baca
Sweeney’s Pub
2230 Hours

The moment Tee and company walked into the room, Harry’s personal sonar began to ping, repeatedly.

No way the look on Kerrin’s face came from her last client (oh, sure no one was supposed to know… on a ship filled with licentious males of various species… everyone knew). “Take the bar,” he said shortly to Alex, even though the kid was already on his way to the pass-over to go to the pub’s resident hooker.

Meeting the young man’s gaze with his own, more experienced glance, Finn shook his head, “Let me get the story, then you can help her.”

Alex didn’t say a thing but finally nodded his acceptance and Harry dove under and slid past the T’Shaini fan club to the table where both the Vulcan and Human woman had taken a seat.

“What happened?” he asked, one hand resting protectively on Kerrin’s shoulder, where he could feel the trembling of shock. He looked carefully at her face, eyes running over the visible skin on her shoulders and arms… no bruising. She seemed to be terrified but if she’d been physically harmed, it was hidden.

“It was Moe,” Kerrin said, her voice strong despite the fear behind it.

Harry's eyes immediately cut to T'Shaini, who sat next to the shaken woman, not touching, but offering some sort of distant comfort.

“He said… he asked, if I’d deliver a message to you." He knew she was holding on, didn't want to fall apart and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze that, hopefully, didn't project the anger that was burning it's way through his system at just that moment.

"I don't suppose there were any actual words in this message?" he offered the question to both women.

T'Shaini was hesitant to mention to Harry that it was her impression that the message was intended to be Kerrin herself, or at least what was left of her. Hoping he would read between the lines she deadpanned. "They were better at physical language than verbal."

"Yeah, their kind usually is," he muttered. Harry put his hand under Kerrin's elbow, gently lifting her, "I think you're going to need to take the rest of the night off," he said, as gently as possible. To the expected look of protest he cut in, "You can work the bar with Alex. I'll give you half of my take for the night… probably not what you'd usually earn," he admitted with an apologetic shrug, "but a lot safer."

Walking and talking, he led the woman to the bar, where Alex took immediate and surprisingly gentle control of the situation.

"You've got the place for the rest of the night," Harry told him, "get the.. you know…" he gave the kid a look, "from the back… keep it on hand." And hoping that the kid wouldn't accidentally shoot himself in the foot with the cobbled together phaser rifle Harry kept for emergencies, turned smack into T'Shaini, who had silently followed him and had a certain… inquisitive expression on her face.

T'Shaini pulled Harry to the side and crossed her arms over her chest. "What do you intend to do?"

"First," he turned so his back was to the most populated portion of the room, "I'm going to ask you to return my phaser, and then," he glanced up towards the doors of the pub, "I'm going to make sure Sara is locked in safe, sound and armed."

Not quite giving up the phaser yet, "And then?" she prodded.

"What do you think?" he asked, his tone gone hard as titanium, to match the iron cast of his eyes.

"Think?" She raised one eyebrow and leaned back. "I 'think' you are about to commence on a course of action that may be unwise."

It was hard, so hard not to give in to the urge to scream at the calm, reasoning, in control Vulcan. "And I think it's way, way past time someone on the USS Nihilist actually commenced on any course of action because, right now, all we lower-deckers ever do is re-act and so far, that's not doing us a hell of a lot of good."

"I can commiserate with your…frustration" A pale word for what she could feel radiating from Harry. "but I do not agree that is the correct course of action. We do not know what ties these men have, they may be loners or they may simply be the small fish in a much much bigger pond. I think we need to be cautious until we can identify exactly who they are. Kerrin is well, you will go warn Sara, we can prepare. Perhaps that is the best we can do for them."

Gods, he was hearing his own words… how many times had he said, thought, just like that? But it wasn't right.. "That's not true," he said, talking more to himself than T'Shaini, just now. "It's not the best we can do.. this… gutless scraping excuse for living? This…" he was practically spitting the words which now burst forth, "getting by… constantly trying to 'make the best of it…'

"But that's the thing," suddenly, he re-connected to his partner, who's eyes widened as he continued, manically, "I’m not.. I have never been a ‘make the best of it’ kind of a guy," he held up a hand, forestalling the objection in her eyes, "No, trust me on this. What I am… was.. am, is a ‘find the damn problem, grab it by the throat and beat it until it’s a bloody, dying mass at my feet’ kind of a guy.” He was starting to breathe rapidly, adrenaline pushing him to finally act. "T'Shaini, give me the damn phaser… watch over the bar and… take care of things."

She closed her eyes for a moment, then nodded and pressed the phaser into his hand. "Harry…" She shook her head, nothing she had to say would change what he was feeling or what he needed to do. "Just try not to get killed."

He accepted the weapon and, from Tee, what amounted to a tearful good-bye with a hug. "Do my best but, up side, I get splattered, you get full ownership of the bar." Before she could berate him for the gallows humor, he gave a quick wink, palmed the weapon, barely hiding the wince as it pressed against his burning, newly-healed skin, and exited the room.

Harry was going to find the problem.

Originally Posted 24 August 2007 by Harry Finn and T'Shaini


The Captain was a Twat….and obviously had one of the worst memories EVER. They'd already shut down just about every system they could. Alternative decks (at O'Fallen's orders), Uninhabited decks (her orders). They were down to emergency lighting and life support while they made repairs and brought out more power cells and crystals. Thank goodness they HAD spares. They'd be up to full power in about 3 days…but until then…well. It'd be slow going.

She hadn't been on the bridge, but one of her crew members kept her informed of everything, O'Fallen had been sent to the brig for saving everyone's lives…which meant that Telar was truly off his rocker now. And now a full-scale mutiny had been made. Well…hopefully Captain Thorne and Commander O'Fallen would communicate with each other and finally the Engineering crew could get some decent, non-repeating, orders.

She left someone else in charge of the engineering and made her way to the chapel. She was in serious need of downtime.

She entered the Chapel, genuflected, and brought out a Rosary, kneeling before the altar in there.

"In nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti." She crossed herself as she pronounced the Latin as her mother had taught her.

"Credo in Deum Patrem omnipoténtem, Creatórem cæli et terræ. Et in Iesum Christum, Fílium eius únicum, Dóminum nostrum, qui concéptus est de Spíritu Sancto, natus ex María Vírgine, passus sub Póntio Piláto, crucifíxus, mórtuus, et sepúltus, descéndit ad ínfernos, tértia die resurréxit a mórtuis, ascéndit ad cælos, sedet ad déxteram Dei Patris omnipoténtis, inde ventúrus est iudicáre vivos et mórtuos. Credo in Spíritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclésiam cathólicam, sanctórum communiónem, remissiónem peccatórum, carnis resurrectiónem, vitam ætérnam." The Apostle's Creed filled the room, said in practiced Latin that showed very little sign of emotion.

However, by the time Zora reached her third Hail Mary, she was crying and the emotion was starting to crack her voice and show through. "Ave María, grátia plena, Dóminus tecum. Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta María, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatóribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostræ."

She said the whole of her rosary, before crossing herself, wiping her eyes and leaving the Chapel. Saying her Rosary always made her think. She didn't really say the Rosary out of faith, she knew better than that, there was no place for her in heaven. Oh, it wasn't the drinking, plenty of Catholics drunk something chronic. No…She wasn't going to go into heaven because she was evil. She'd been told so when a child.

6 years old, she'd said things, things she couldn't have possibly have known. Things that had happened before her time, things about to happen…things that others were thinking. In Betazeds and non-humans this was almost normal, and it was believed they'd be fine in their afterlife…but in Humans it was unheard of, and she'd been taken aside by a priest and told that the devil was in her. They'd tried to exercise her, but it hadn't worked, and she still said things. Then she was told she was a child of evil, and that God had no place for her in his house. Her parents had been so distant from her since then. Oh, they were friendly enough and she was in their prayers, but it was never the same.

She'd met a nice man when she was 16 and in her second year of Fleet. He'd been catholic like her, and they'd had a pretty tense relationship…not that it went beyond kissing, they'd both been a little too devout for anything beyond that. But when he found out about her, having snuck into her room one night and hearing her speaking in various languages in her sleep, languages he knew she couldn't speak…He'd broken it off. Called her a witch, left and Zora had never seen him again.

She shook her head, to get rid of the melancholy thoughts. She wasn't going to live in the past now. Not now. She took a swig of alcohol from her tankard and went in search of some food.

Originally Posted 25 August 2007 by Zora Cabbits


He awoke to the shrill rantings of that wench that called herself the captain. "Shut up!" Javier yelled, groping around on the floor until he found one of his boots. He flung the boot at the commspeaker on the wall. The heel hit it squarely and a few sparks discharged from the unit before it went dead. The harping of the CO was abruptly cut off. Damn bitch. the engineer thought as he tried to go back to sleep. He had been in the middle of a good dream before Taray had started her tirade. It had involved a woman dancing for him in a darkened room. Javier hadn't been able to see the woman's face as her lithe body moved to the music but he felt as if he knew her. The dream bothered him, and in more than the obvious ways.

Unable to return to the dream or sleep that he desired, Javier got out of bed and pulled his clothes on. The odd being known as Q had promised him some answers. "Time to collect," the engineer said. He moved to the door only to find it locked. "Dammit!" Javier yelled, he could hear the snickers of the guards on the other side of the door. "Let me out of here you bastards! I've got work to do."

"You don't leave your quarters until the captain has made her decision regarding your actions in engineering," one of the guards yelled back. "So settle down Feddie before I come in there and beat you."

"Well I suppose we could have our conversation in here," Q said from behind him. The engineer jumped back, surprised by the sudden appearance of the odd being. "But it's so drab..I prefer the colorful patrons of Sweeney's." In a flash Q disappeared. Javier waited a few minutes. There was another flash and the man reappeared. "Conversation usual means two people talking, sharing ideas..come along Javier," Q said.

"The door is locked and I can't jump in and out of here," Javier replied, his tone beginning to show some annoyance.

Q exhaled then muttered to himself. "You humans are always so negative." He shook his head at Javier. "Think about where you want to go and there you will be," Q explained in a tone filled with condescension. "If it will help you can say your destination aloud." Q closed his eyes, nodded his head then clicked his heels and said, "There's no place like Sweeney's, there's no place like Sweeney's." In an instant the being was gone.

"This is never going to work," the engineer said as he pictured the bar in his mind. The image of the bar brought the thought of a dancer to his mind. It was the woman from the bar. Or was it the woman from his dream? Javier felt the room around him move. The next moment he found himself standing in the bar, close by was the dancer. She looked so familiar, almost like he knew her.

Already on edge from Harry's decision to play vigilante, T'Shaini inwardly started at the precipitous return of Pirate Man. How did he get in here without me observing it? My attention must have been wandering. Taking a step back from him so as not to have any physical contact she noticed him staring rather intently. Not that she was not accustomed to attention from the clientele, however this felt less like admiration and more as if she were a lab experiment. Alex had Kerrin behind the bar with him, and astoundingly enough she seemed to be smiling so there was nothing for her to do. She was here in Harry's stead, she would have to deal with customers.

"Can I be of assistance?"

The woman's question snapped Javier back to the present. "I don't think so..I'm here to meet a friend."

"You wanted answers," he heard Q say, "she's one of the answers. Now you just have to find the correct questions, Javier." The engineer turned around, expecting to see Q but the being was nowhere in sight. He cursed under his breath and turned back to find the woman walking away. "Wait," he said, starting after her. The way she turned to look at him reminded Javier of something, something that he had forgotten but seemed to be on the edge of understanding. "Can I speak to you for a moment?" he asked, realizing the bar was near full, he added, "In private?"

T'Shaini rocked back at the words 'in private'. "No. You need a drink, you can go to the bar, you want to see a show, I will be on in a minute, you need to speak to the owner, Harry will be back….when he is back." She turned away again to make her way backstage. She did not need to prepare for her set yet, but something about this man set her teeth on edge. Rarely did anyone make her unsettled, she chose to honor her reactions and retreat.

Javier frowned, but rather than give up he followed the woman. If she had answers or knew something, he wanted to know them. Then there was something else, the feeling of familiarity that he just couldn't shake off. The engineer stepped in front of the woman. "I don't want a drink, I'm not interested in watching a show or speaking to the owner. I just want to speak with you for a few minutes. There's..you're important somehow," Javier tried to explain to her with a growing sense of frustration.

That stopped her, she raised one eyebrow. "Important…somehow. Well, when you have analyzed how I am important, then you can speak to me."

"I think you're very important..to me. I just need time to figure out how," he said, moving closer. There was something about her eyes that drew him to her. His hand came up very slowly and touched her face. It felt smooth and soft like he knew it would. How did I know that? Visions bombarded his mind. The woman was in his thoughts. In some of the dreams they laughed and talked together, in others they were eating with each other and in a few they were lovers. They're memories, Javier realized in confusion, I have memories of her…of T'Shaini. His eyes widened in recognition as he said her name. "T'Shaini."

She had frozen at his touch, partially in disbelief in his audacity, and partially due to the lurch that his fingertips on her skin had caused within her. Spell broken at the sound of her name her hand snapped up and wrapped around his wrist as she said in a low tone. "You will remove that hand or you will leave without it."

For a moment he faltered, the coldness in her voice making him doubt the memories in his mind. Then Javier removed his hand from her face. Even if I told her she wouldn't believe me. He took her wrist in his own, applying slight pressure to the area between her finger and thumb so she would release his hand. Realization hit him suddenly. "You're a Vulcan." Javier took her hand in his. Her fingers tensed becoming immobile. "It's okay, I want to show you something," he explained as he placed her fingers on his brow and the side of his face, initiating the physical contact needed for a mind-meld.

It was a dangerous thing for him to do. She would have control over his mind and could even kill him if she chose to. "Look into my thoughts, into my memories, you're there, I don't know how but it's you," Javier said, waiting for T'Shaini to initiate the mental connection.

Having been pushed to the breaking point this evening between the encounter with Kerrin's assailants, Harry's descent, and now this…lunatic pressing her to, in effect, put his life in danger she felt caution unravel. Digging her fingers into his head she focused, without caring why, or how, or what the consequences might be. Suddenly scattered images of the two of them flashed across the back of her eyes. Images far too intimate to be anything but fantasy, but too visceral to dismiss. Breaking contact and almost stumbling in her haste to back away from him her eyes narrowed as she hissed between clenched teeth. "Get out. NOW."

He staggered back as she tore herself away from the mental connection. "You saw them," he replied to her outburst. "I'm not leaving until I get some answers. So far you're the only one who's seen what I have…do you think I like it? Having pictures of a whore inside my thoughts..having been with you…like that!" Javier spat. "I had a wife and a family, all I have now are memories of them, memories that are tainted by you. I never had those thoughts before..so you better start offering an explanation…" He left the threat open.

Her eyes went flat at the word 'whore' and she drew herself up to her full height. He had gone from irritant to something she needed to purge. "I have no part in whatever fantasies you have concocted, therefore I cannot aid you in your 'explanations'. Since my presence taints your world view, I will take my leave." Feeling the coldness wrap around her like a suit of armor she turned to walk away.

"Fantasies? In your dreams perhaps," Javier retorted. He grabbed the Vulcan woman's arm and pulled her back towards him. As he pulled her towards him T'Shaini pulled her other arm up and thrust her elbow toward his throat. Javier brought up his forearm and knocked her elbow aside then wrapped his leg around hers and tripped her backward, falling to the floor with her. Rolling as they fell so that he hit the ground first she twisted her hips so she could knee him in the groin. Javier continued rolling, his knees blocking hers as he rolled out from under her while pushing her away. As the woman's back hit the floor, he reversed his movement and rolled back over on top of her, seeking to pin her. Javier's face brushed against hers as he struggled against the Vulcan strength in the woman's body.

His lips brushed against hers and it was as if someone poured an icy cold stream of memories into his mind. His chest constricted as visions assaulted his thoughts, crushing others aside. Javier saw he and Caterina fighting angrily, then separating, he saw Lia living with his parents. His daughter was alive! So many thoughts streamed into his mind so quickly, that Javier felt as if he was going insane. He pushed himself away from her, rolling off to the side, laying with his back to the floor his breath heaving.

"What was that?" he whispered, afraid that he had lost his mind.

T'Shaini felt the touch of his lips and the now familiar accompanying jolt, then felt his body go rigid with some unseen turmoil. Hearing the whispered question she pressed her eyes closed and concentrated on making her breath even. She pulled herself to her feet using her hand against the wall and leaned her forehead against cool surface. "I cannot imagine what that was, I have no idea why you are here, why you would seek contact with a 'whore' and what would possess you to accost me in this fashion. What I do know is the fact that I am here to do a job and you need to leave because you are interfering with my ability to do that job."

"Accost you? You play the victim card very well for someone who knows how to defend themselves," Javier replied as he stood to his feet. "I sincerely doubt you are a whore..or a dancer for that matter." The engineer thought for a moment then said, "I want to show you something, will you come with me?"

"No, even if I were so inclined, the bar is my responsibility when Harry is not present." She crossed to the door to her changing room and turned waiting for him to leave.

Javier nodded, he understood that she was scared by what she had witnessed. He was frightened by the prospect that stood before him. Which set of memories were true? Had he been a faithful husband? Cat, a faithful wife? Was his daughter still alive? Did he and the woman T'Shaini have a relationship? He only had two clues. One was the woman that stood in front of him. The other was the place where it had all began. "I know sometime soon you'll seek answers too. When that time comes you'll know where to find me," he told the Vulcan. Javier concentrated on engineering, seeing the place very clearly in his mind; the woman and the room faded from view and the engineer found himself staring at the Silverback's warpcore. The blue light played over his features as he stared at the chamber. Lia..if you're alive I'm going to find you.

Originally Posted 26 August 2007 by T'Shaini and Javier Costala

SS Antonio de Silva Baca
sometime after 2400 hours

Finn made his way, via ladder and maintenance tunnels, to the lowest of the lower decks, where the Pheribos was located. This place was the blackest market available ship-wide and, given Zarm’s store policies, that was saying something.

But the Pheribos sold the type of merch no one was supposed to have. There were rumors about the kind of shopping Pev did, down there, and it was where Harry had acquired the parts for the bar’s phaser rifle, along with the Type I he’d just gotten back from T’Shaini. Problem was, Moe knew about the holdout, which meant it was time for some new toys.

As he descended to the lower depths, he tried to avoid thinking about what he’d left behind…

———————————-

“Happy Anniversary!” she’d announced, despite the surprise of his entering their quarters a full four hours earlier than was usual.

Harry had frozen, locked in place by the sight of his wife dressed… well, mostly dressed… okay, wearing something that, under a microscope, might pass for a dress, and wrapping up a bottle of what had to be genuine Saurian brandy, seal unbroken, and smiling as if this weren’t some flea-bitten excuse of a cabin on a broken-down pirate ship, but the honeymoon suite of the Platinum Star and they hadn’t a care in the universe.

If only.

“Sara…” he’d begun but she was on fire, unable to contain herself. Joining him where he stood, she’d wrapped herself around Harry, who, already running a might warm, felt himself going critical - felt, in fact, his heart lurching painfully, as if it were trying to escape the prison of his own ribcage.

Harry was struggling, now, pushing himself stupidly against the poison boiling through his heart. “Why?” he croaked out, before she was gone, before…

Suddenly she loomed before him, once more. “Always need a reason, don’t you?”

“Mmmm, warm,” Sara said, giving his lower lip a teasing nip, before grinning in understanding, “Don’t worry about it, Finn, men never remember anniversaries, or birthdays, or… well, probably other vital dates but…” she broke off, then. “What’s wrong?” she’d asked, going still to match his stillness; stepping back in response to his sudden distance.

It was a moment before he could speak, before he could get past… whatever… had stabbed him from within. “I need,” the truth, “I’m sorry,” his head gave a jerk, unseating the false images, “I need to go,” he reached out to her, once more, refusing to buy into the sense of wrongness that was beating at him, pounding in time to his own, too-rapid pulse.

“Sara,” he said, hating himself for killing her joy, so rare these days, “something’s happened…”

That got her attention and, as he related the earlier incident’s of the evening, she bit her own lip in a combination of anger and bitter disappointment. It seemed as if there were never going to be a time of peace for Harry, with her, and that was a bitter knowing for Sara, who had never wanted anything more.

—————————————-

And so he’d left her, locked away in their cabin, armed with the phaser and himself taking the brandy, the Saurian brandy she’d scraped and scavenged and bartered for, to use as trade down below. With that and the still-pocketed latinum strips, he should be able to find something to suit his needs.

Making his careful way to the Pheribos, he’d noticed that the ship’s engines were working to capacity, their steadily increasing thrum indicating a jump to warp. Too bad the magnified vibrations were also giving him a killer headache. Just the thing to accessorize the burning hand and sporadic fever. Suck it up. There’d be time to deal with his pathetic attempt at first-aid after he’d taken care of business.

Harry grit his teeth as he zeroed in on the merchant he needed. While the heavily scarred Talaxian pulled out her wares, he leaned (he hoped) casually against her cubicle’s wall and tried to breathe through the hammering in his brain which had taken on the incessant quality of an unwelcome guest beating at the door, unwilling to accept the idea that there was no one at home.

It was as he was weighing the relative merits of the neural truncheon vs. an energy whip that the locked door of his memory collapsed under the continual onslaught.

Harry felt the fingers of the dream penetrate his skin and twist about the fibers of his heart, plucking them like strings until the loss echoed throughout his soul.

“You have to wake up, Harry,” Sara was telling him from where she stood, leaning over the hospital bed.

“No,” he denied hoarsely, trying to reach up, to stroke away the worry in her brow, but the docs had strapped his hands down (patient is emotionally unstable, a danger to himself and others)…“I can’t… you’ll leave…”

Then he gasped as she lay her palm, cool… cold, at his temple. “I’m not here, now,” she said, “I’m not real, remember?” Accusation in her voice, subtle poison.

Too good to be true. He’d thought that.. and he’d been right, hadn’t he? “Were you… ever?” There’d been no time to ask, before.

Shadows played across her eyes, clouds over the earth. “It was only ever a dream, Harry,” she told him through the rain that slid down her cheeks, “just a dream,” she leaned over, laying a kiss upon his burning lips, “and now it’s time to wake.”

“No,” he felt the denial reverberate through the void she’d left behind, “Sara… don’t…” Don’t what? Don’t be dead? Don’t be the one who betrayed me? Don’t… just… don’t, “… go…”

His body gave one convulsive shudder beneath the weight of the emptiness before his eyes once more registered the dim, claustrophobic space, crammed with crates and containers and Roxyn, giving him the kind of look that indicated he’d better finish up his business and get out of here fast, before he ended up as someone’s (ha) stock.

Keeping his eyes flat, his voice cool, he made his choices and his payment, bartering as hard as was expected, and then, all senses on red-alert, made his purposeful exit from the marketplace.

Ape-shit visions aside, his objective remained the same: eliminate the threat to his people. After that was done, well… then there would be time… time for a hundred visions and revisions to discover the truth.

Sara

Originally Posted 26 August 2007 by Harry Finn


There has to be a rational explanation. All night long, whether she was minding the bar, tending to customers or dancing, that phrase ran through her head. She had seen him disappear, she had seen things she had no memory of doing. He was human, and she saw no transporter signature and…well that was as far as she had gotten in her discarded hypotheses. Nodding to Alex, who was manning the bar by himself now that Kerrin had retired (the posse of young hopefuls had walked her back to her quarters) she stepped backstage for the final show of the shift. Everything subsumed by the earlier event she chose the eerie strains of a song that suited her mood.

Freezing, feeling,
Breathe in, breathe in…
I'm coming back again…

Her body on automatic, she let the music twist her body while her mind whirled. The heavy downbeat in the song brought a primal edge to her movements and that rhythmic pounding began to insinuate itself into her subconscious. Visions of a life she never experienced began to play out behind her eyes, a life that was full and rich. And with all the faces that flashed before her, one kept returning. The intensity of what she was experiencing inside poured out of her on stage, and if she had been able to register any of the outside world she would have been surprised to find that the bar was silent, all eyes watching the unearthly performance on stage.

I'm not the one whos so far away…
I'm not the one whos so far away…
I'm not the one whos so far away…

T'Shaini walked out to the bar not noticing that even her regulars would not look directly at her and motioned to Alex for his attention. Throwing the rag over his shoulder he quickly stepped down to meet her.

"I need to leave, can you close the bar by yourself?" At his nod she turned to leave, then stopped turned back. "Do not forget to lock the door before counting the revenue." Alex rolled his eyes at the reminder, then saluted T'Shaini and returned to work.

He said she would know how to find him, and he was right. Focusing on the remaining resonance T'Shaini left the bar and followed the scent.

Originally Posted 26 August 2007 by T'Shaini


Javier stared up at the warp core chamber. He had nearly penetrated the chamber's casing before by using a hyperspanner to crack the metal plate while making repairs. Nearly three days before he had almost killed the engineering crew. Not that it would've mattered, none of them know anything about engineering anyway. But Javier found himself thinking even if they were piratic scum, killing them would not be a choice he could have lived with. What's wrong with me? Why should I give a damn about them.. The engineer made his way over to the railing around the core chamber, crossing under it he approached the chamber which was still dented. I thought seeing Lia might have been a dream but now, after seeing her among the images with that woman, I'm not so sure. The engineer traced the dent with his fingertips. There would be ship's logs of the event!

The engineer approached the main console, shouldered aside the crew member that was propped up against it and searched for correct the logs. There were no separate files for hour or day. He would have to manually search for the incident. Javier sighed impatiently. This will take a few hours.

::Later that Night::

He watched the event for the sixth time but nothing was out of the ordinary. On the video feed he seemed to stop and look into the warp core then flip out and begin screaming curses while beating against the plating with a metal tool. Javier frowned as he began to lose his concentration again, for much of the night something was pulling at his thoughts. He struggled to remain focused then felt a stronger pull almost a jerk. The engineer let his mind go and felt a familiar coldness pour into his thoughts. It was the Vulcan woman.

She acted appalled by the thought of what she saw..of course I wasn't comfortable with the knowledge of some of those memories..thoughts..whatever they were. What if she knows more than she let on though. Somehow he knew that she was looking for him. Javier thought for a few seconds about the woman. Engineering faded from view and he was beside her as she walked through the corridors of the ship. "Were you looking for me?" he asked.

Refusing to admit that his sudden appearance affected her she stepped back from the familiar/unfamiliar man and crossed her arms as if for protection. "Yes, I was. I find that I am now 'gifted' with visions of a different life as well. Of which I had no inkling before our contact earlier. You said you needed answers, I find I am unlikely to be able to give them to you, but perhaps we can discuss this and discover its source."

"Why? Why are you so keen to look for answers now?" Javier asked. "Perhaps they are mere 'fantasies'," he suggested, knowing that his line of thought would make her slightly uncomfortable. "Isn't it likely that you could fantasize about me almost in the same manner you accused me of fantasizing about you?"

"No, it is not." She stated flatly. There was no reason for her to elucidate the reasons to a stranger, but the concept of her being open enough to attach a fantasy to anyone was beyond conception.

"No? Are you sure?" Javier replied, faking disbelief. "Because in a number of those 'fantasies' I remember being the passive one while a certain Vulcan displayed characteristics that her people would consider…very..emotional."

"Yes, I am certain." *sigh* "If you are uninterested in working to uncover how these…illusions are generated, then I will take my leave." She pushed herself away from the wall and began to walk away.

Javier caught her elbow, halting the woman's forward momentum; he concentrated on engineering, thinking of himself and the Vulcan woman standing in the room he had left earlier. The corridor slid away and was replaced by the bright blue of the warp core. "I do need your help," he said, "before we…touched I thought I was the only one who could see them and I thought I was going insane."

Any semblance of control slipping away. "HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT?"

"I don't even know," Javier replied with a shake of his head. "I just think about the place and the people I want to see there..and it happens."

I have no idea how to respond to that. Then again was it more extraordinary than the remainder of the situation? *shrug* "So what do you surmise I can do to assist in discovering where reality lies?"

"Besides us kissing again, I have no other ideas," Javier replied. He thought about what he had just suggested and said, "But that's not going to happen." He vaulted the railing surrounding the warp core. "Not that you aren't any good at kissing. With practice you could get alot better." Years and years of practice.

The engineer pointed to the warp core. "This is where it began. I was making repairs and I had this vision of my daughter. All of these other visions followed. They seemed so real but then when I touched you…I had more visions that seemed as if they were memories rather than images. Does that make any sense?"

T'Shaini lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "As much sense as anything else. Before contact with you, there was never any inkling of any other existance. But I cannot imagine what else it could be, I do not fantasize, I do not even dream."

Intrigued for a moment, Javier asked, "Why not? I mean, why don't you dream?"

Someone watching intently may have seen a split second flash of…something, before the shutter slammed closed behind her eyes. She then tossed in the same one shouldered shrug. "Unimportant. What is next?"

This one has a past full of trouble. But then who doesn't? "We explore the dreams," he said resolutely. "Not the…sexual ones," Javier reassured her. He thought for a moment then disappearred, reappearring behind her. "Don't panic," Javier said before taking hold of her arms. The engineering room slid away and was replaced by a bright sunlit room, dominated by a single piano at which a little girl sat banging away at the keys. The room was filled with light from the sun outside. The contrast between the place and the ship where they had been was total.

"That is my daughter, Lia," Javier explained to the Vulcan woman, not relinquishing his hold on her. "She is beautiful is she not?" The engineer swallowed, when he spoke again his voice was hoarse. "The problem is that my daughter..my Lia died three months ago before I was captured by the Silverback. Her mother..died when giving birth to her..I suppose not being able to dream is not that bad of a thing afterall. At least you never have to see the ones you love living when you know they are not."

Resentment fell away, discarded as petty and pointless. How could she hold on to such things knowing what he had lost and understanding loss as she did. "Where are we?" She basked in the joy of the sunlit room and her gaze lingered on the child at the piano. "Do you hope that somehow there is a reality in which she is still alive?"

Originally Posted 27 August 2007 by T'Shaini and Javier Costala


SS Antonio de Silva Baca
So late, it’s early

He had, with only minor difficulty, gotten the location of Lammas Ren’s quarters (note to self: next time ask the Boatswain’s mate nicely before threatening him) and they were comparatively swank. He’d a room plus genuine bath on deck 7, three levels above Sweeney’s, with access to what was politely termed the Officer’s Mess but was better known as The Pits (and not because of any kind of barbecue).

Not the digs for a small-time hustler but then, Harry had pegged Moe for something darker after their second encounter. Hello, Harry

Focus…

He’d found a decent spot for watching the gutless wonder’s residence (anyone who needed backup to threaten a non-combatant like Kerrin didn’t even need an autopsy to confirm the pale hue of his liver) and settled in for the duration. From his vantage in the receded maintenance closet’s entrance, he could easily observe the comings and goings opposite and about 9 meters to his left.

Huddled in the shadows, eyes locked on the appropriate door, he absently opened and closed his wounded hand, not really noticing the tremors overtaking his body in synch with the fevered tick. What he did notice was the creeping malaise of exhaustion. If there weren’t some movement soon, he’d have to try a little B and E, before he was too far gone to move.

The ‘morning’ was still in the birthing stage, notable only by the few passengers stumbling back to their own quarters, some of whom he recognized as clients from the pub. Into this sparsely populated time Ren’s door finally slid open, revealing, like some cheap magician’s trick, Lammas Ren and….

…. Harry fell further back into the shadows…

… Sara Finn, still dressed in her finery and exiting the chamber as she made her farewells with every semblance of cool civility.

Originally Posted 27 August 2007 by Harry Finn


"That is all I ever hope for…" Javier replied before his voice cracked with emotion. In an instant he had moved away from the Vulcan woman and knealt beside the piano bench on which the little girl, his little girl sat. "Lia?" he said, hoping that this was not just another dream. A dream from which he would awake and find himself alone again.

Lia turned and said, "Hey Daddy!" and leaped at him. Javier caught her up in a hug. He heard himself laugh. It had a quality to it that he hadn't heard in sometime. It was a pleasant sound, devoid of bitterness or derisiveness, and it was echoed by Lia's own laughter. She kissed him on the cheek with one of her slobery kisses. Could this be real? Is Cat still alive here too? he thought.

"Where's Mommy?" Javier asked. Lia pulled back, then pointed towards another set off doors placed among the large windows. "Mommy's outside?" the engineer asked, his heart leaping. "Cat! Caterina!" he called out, not wanting to leave Lia.

"Who's dat?" Lia asked. Javier turned back to see the Vulcan woman. "That's..a friend of Daddy's."

"Javier!" a voice called out, not Caterina's but another voice also familiar. He turned to find his mother walking through the doors. "Mama.." It had been several years since he had seen his family. "Javier, it is you," his mother replied as she hurried over and enveloped him in a hug.

"Mama, I missed you but I'm glad you finally got to meet your granddaughter," he said as Javier hugged her. "Is Caterina here? Is she here too?" Javier asked hopefully. His mother pulled away, she shook her head in disbelief, unable to comprehend why he would ask such a question.

"She's gone Javier..you don't have to worry about her trying to see Lia," Amelia Costala answered, before noticing the other woman in the room. A look of recognition came over Amelia's face and she smiled as she approached the Vulcan woman. "Hello, I'm Amelia, you must be T'Shaini, Javier's told us about you," his mother said as she offered her hand to T'Shaini.

Having been enthralled by the interchange between Javier and his daughter, When was the last time I have seen a simple pure emotion… and then watching Lia entwine herself around his arm she almost did not notice the entrance of the third player to the scene. Luckily stunned silence and Vulcan impassivity look remarkably alike. With barely a blink of hesitation T'Shaini took the other womans hand and hopefully mumbled something in response. Her eyes wide she turned toward Javier hoping he would provide some explanation.

He watched the exchange between his mother and T'Shaini with something akin to shock on his face. When the Vulcan woman glanced his way, her eyes held a question. "Mama, how much have I told you about T'Shaini?" he asked. Lia began to try and pronounce T'Shaini's name but it sounded more like T'Janey than anything else. Javier's eye flickered back and forth from his mother to the Vulcan woman.

"Well you said she was a close friend," Amelia started caustiously, slowly understanding the question as she thought about it. She turned to the Vulcan woman. "There's no need to feel embarrassed, my son doesn't tell me intimate details or even who he's seeing for that matter. I just know that you have both formed a friendship and you are always welcome in our home."

Formed a friendship, is that what you call what happened in those memories.. he thought humorously then shook it off as his mother continued to speak.

"You both must be exhausted; you look so tired dear," Amelia told T'Shaini. "I wish you would have told me you were home on shore-leave Javier, we could have had the whole family over tonight." She turned and walked away a few paces, then turned and said, "Well, let's go home, there's no reason to stay here all day." Javier turned to T'Shaini and said, "What do you think? Would you like to meet my family?"

Wondering if pinching herself would do any good T'Shaini nodded in acceptance. Can you have shared hallucinations? Is this an alternate reality? Or have I just come completely unhinged. She bit her lip as the last thought crossed her mind and an insane urge to laugh began to bubble up within her. She knelt down to be at eye level with the young girl. "Is that alright with you Lia? Do you mind if I come back to visit your family?" Why did I do that?

Lia giggled and hid her face behind her daddy's neck. Javier smiled and said, "What do you think honey, should we let her come to the house?" The little girl peeked out at the woman, laughed, and said, "Yes." then hugged her daddy fiercely. "Well then it's settled," Javier said as he stood to his feet and followed his mother, beckoning for T'Shaini to follow. Is it just me or is she not as cold as she first appearred to be. the engineer thought as he studied the Vulcan woman.

Bemused, T'Shaini followed along, she had not experienced anything akin to family in…well it seemed a lifetime. There would be time enough for the questions she had and the need to return later, after she had made his father's acquaintance.

::Costala Family Residence::
::Oporto, Earth::

Javier hugged Lia then put her down on the floor of the veranda amongst her toys. He walked over to where T'Shaini stood next to the balcony watching the sunset reflect golden light off the Duoros River. "As near as I can tell this is my home. Except my father is an engineer here and never served with the marines. I myself served in the marines though because there's a picture of me in uniform in there," Javier explained nodding back towards the house. "Apparently, or from what I've gleaned from speaking with my mother from this reality, my wife cheated on me and left Lia and I to go find someone else. I took the news rather hard and joined the marines; after a year or so I joined the Fleet and serve on a ship where I met you."

He stood in silence for a moment before speaking. "I owe you an apology. I called you something that isn't..I said some things to you which I regret. I apologize."

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion as years of conditioning reared its ugly head. Once again she lifted her shoulder in a shrug. "I have been called worse." I have done worse. She looked out at the glorious view and sighed. "A beautiful house, a lovely family, a life with people that…this is not real." She shook her head as if to clear it. "We need to get back, no, I need to get back, what you need to do is up to you. I can understand why you would stay, but for me, buying into this fantasy does not help. I must live my life the way I have chosen it whether it pleases me or not."

"I see," Javier replied. "Well I hate to disappoint you but unless you've figured out some way to transport yourself back, I'm afraid you're stuck here." The engineer turned to watch Lia playing happily on the floor. "I can get used to the idea of not having Caterina…but leaving my daughter is out of the question." He looked at the Vulcan woman. "You would be the kind to choose that depressing reality. I wish I could take you back there but what if I can't get back afterwards? Look on the brightside, you never have to work in a bar again."

"And what exactly am I supposed to do here? Do you propose I live off your family? If I was unaware of how low I am in your estimation before, then certainly that has made it clear."

"Find yourself a new life? I'm sure you've probably thought about it…are you just too..can't even look at me when I'm speaking to you.." Javier said growing more infuriated by the minute. Then he realized that T'Shaini was frozen in place. "What the..?" He looked around, every thing seemed to be frozen in place, even the people in the streets below and the boats on the river. He twisted around, Lia was frozen in place, one arm around a doll while another lifted a tiny yellow teacup to the doll's mouth.

"Tsk, tsk Vulcans are rather annoying aren't they," a familiar voice said. Javier turned to find Q standing on the other side of T'Shaini, leaning over so he could look at her face. Q looked at Javier. "I think it's their emotionless visage that makes them seem appear so superior. On the other hand," the man said as straightened his posture and turned his head as if in thought, "it could be their complete lack of humor."

"What are you doing here?" Javier asked.

"Oh, I'm here to take you back," Q said flippantly. "The Vulcan doesn't want to stay and you can't make her stay. Well you could, but not yet, I could make her stay. That would be so much fun. But no, I didn't think you would come back here and tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is making the Vulcan," Q explained, then paused to laugh at some private joke, "you can't stay."

"But..I want to," Javier started to reply. Q shook his head. "No, no, no, impossible. Completely out of the question. Say goodbye, and we're off." Their surroundings faded from view. Javier was pulled back to the darkness of the engine room. No! his mind screamed. He tried to return, but found he couldn't move from the engine room. It was if a barrier had been set in place between the other reality and his own. No matter how hard he concentrated he couldn't move back. Movement drew his attention to the left. It was T'Shaini.

She's the reason we returned. What did Q say? The Vulcan doesn't want to stay… Javier reacted without thinking, grabbing T'Shaini and slamming her against the side of the warp core chamber. "I lost my daughter..again, because of you," he said in a low voice. "The next time our paths cross I'm going to kill you." He released the woman, fearful that if he held her any longer he would be tempted to follow through with the threat. "Just stay away from me."

Her knees buckled as he let her go, all of the fight drained out of her in the face of his despair driven rage. T'Shaini was unsure of what had happened, but she knew where she was. Stumbling, she made her way to the door and prayed that she would still be able to find sanctuary in the safety of her quarters. Refuge can only be found if your mind will allow it.

He watched her leave. Half of him wanted to follow her, hounding her with his presence until she broke under the strain. The other half wanted him to sink to a dark place where he would eventually find himself and put an end to the misery that consumed his mind. For reasons unexplained, he chose the later, making his way into the very bowels of the ship. Going to the lower decks, most of which had been long been abandoned by the crew, Javier found a place where he could be alone.

Originally Posted 27 August 2007 by T'Shaini and Javier Costala


SS Antonio de Silva Baca
The turning of the tide

It had been only moments since she’d left, and taken every last shred of his world away with her.

Alone in the shadows… no, not alone… the slithering whispers of vile conjecture kept him close company, he watched Moe watching her walk away. Seeing how the parasite looked after her, Harry found that the objective had just gotten that much more… compelling.

He waited a full count of a hundred after the door had closed, then made his own way to the toad‘s cabin. The timing made it possible that the woman was returning, some words left unsaid, some thing forgotten. He held the replacement phaser he’d bargained for in his right hand, easy to see, easy to focus on, and rang the bell.

The door sliced opened and, sure enough, there was Ren, looking to where her eye’s would have been.

No joy, here, buddy.

Harry raised the phaser, which Moe eye-balled even as a nervous grin tried its darndest to climb onto his pocked and scarred face. Harry smiled back, then, drawing his left hand from behind, he brought forth the neural truncheon. Finn didn’t bother to turn it on… he just laid into the bastard: a sudden stab into the gut, then an uppercut with the same blunt instrument, followed by a downswing to the base of that strangely bowl-shaped skull. Only a few seconds after the door had opened, Finn was using his boot to shove the quivering mass of Moe back into his own quarters and allowing the door to cut off any potential witnesses.

A quick scan revealed an empty room, an unmade bed, a bottle of some liquor or other cracked open on a low table… only two glasses.

Somehow, another kick delivered itself to the bleeding, cowering mass on the floor. Standing over the gasping vermin, Harry switched the Breen device to the ‘on’ position before he dropped into a crouch and said, in a voice as calm as the void, “Now maybe you’d like to tell me just what kind of conversation you were having with my Wife.”

Originally Posted 27 August 2007 by Harry Finn


T'maekh watched with glee from an open accesway as Harry bead down his target. He couldn't pass up this opportunity for not only one new test subject. He could blackmale Harry into submitting for testing as well. He checked the playback on his personal recorder with glee, and retreated to his office in haste.

As he arrived into the medical room through the access tunnels of the ship, his brain had already come up with several ways to test the two subjects by having them beat each other to within an inch of their lives, patch them up, and do it again and again until one just…gave up. Oh, what fun that would be. He sent a message to Harry's apartment with a copy of his "evidence" attached, and a simple message…

"You will submit yourself for 'testing' or this finds it's way into the captain's hands." He cackled as he sent it, and when someone walked in to check on him, he chased her out laughing maniacally. What fun indeed…

Originally Posted 28 August 2007 by T'Maekh Khev


USS Belfast
Jeffries Tube 42-A; Deck Five
0745 hours

"Hand me that shit." Came the teen engineer's muffled voice from inside the bulkhead.

Flo blinked, several times in fact in a vain attempt to get his focus. It was a daily affair. He, sometimes Sumner, and Nate would sneak off to indulge in some of the green plant that the human boy called "Gange". Today however, Nate had work to do, and Flo had decided to tag along, hoping that they could still smoke. Of course, work could never come between them and their illegit activites, and they'd brought the stuff with them. They hadn't been in the Jeffries tubes more than fifteen minutes before there was a green cloud hanging in the air and Flo had succumbed to the calming effects of the drug.

Nate had already had to wake him once. Sufficed to say, the Ferengi was a newb. The diminutive scientist gazed at the various implements scattered around where the human teen was laying under a mass of cables and isolinear compnents.

"The Iso-spanner?" He asked, snatching up the cylindrical tool.

"No Clown shoes… the freakin smoke. Don't be wasting it… it doesn't grow on trees you know."

"I know that Hew-mon…" Flo replied shortly. "It grows in a weed…" Flo leaned back against the bulkhead, tossing the spanner back down and picking up the tightly wrapped ciggarette. "But… if it did grow on trees… that would be better I think."

Flo's mind swam with visions of muggy grey skies and fields of green trees, each offering bushels full of the slender green leaves. The vision brought a crooked smile to his face. "I could genetically engineer these… "Gange trees" and make quite a profit on the homeworld." Standing up on a platform now, his vision expanded to see scores of Ferengi females picking the leaves off the trees and harvesting them. "I think there would be a good market for this." he said.

"Are you kidding me?" Nate laughed. "First of all… You can't grow this on Ferenginar. It's too wet there. Second…"

"We can grow it indoors!" Flo exclaimed with a contented sigh, taking a long draw off the quickly dwindling ciggarette. "I will send a message to my uncle.. I think he'd be interested in a sample… Can we send him some?"

"F*ck No!" Nate exclaimed, squirming out from the bulkhead. "How would we get it there anyhow? Not sure if you noticed dude… but we're trapped on a derelict ship… in the freakin Gamma Quadrant." He snatched what was left out of FLo's hand and put it to his lips. "And plus…" He said around the ciggarette, "drug dealing never works out."

A small shrug was the only response he got. After a few more minutes, and finishing the ciggarette, Nate was about to crawl back into the mass of ODN wiring when his com badge went off. Reaching over the slumbering Ferengi, the teen picked up his duty jacket and turned it over in his hands until he found the little device.

"Benjamin." He said, pressing the outer casing against the palm of his hand.

=/\= Benjamin! This is Lieutenant Cabbits… Where the hell are you? =/\=

Nate rolled his eyes. Always so uptight. He swore one day Cabbits was going to spontaneously combust. She was always so wound up. A wry grin broke out across the boy's face as he settled in against the bulkhead for what was likely to be an ass chewing of near epic proportions. "What's up El Tee?" He asked innocently. "Something I can do to… umm.. for you?"

=/\= Yeah Cadet… get your mind out of the gutter and get your ASS up to the bridge. You, Flo and Clagh have bridge watch today… or did you forget?=/\=

"Did you forget to tell me?" he replied, resting his head on his forearms. "Cause no one told me that. what time am I supposed to be there?"

=/\= NOW! where is Flo? =/\=

"He's here. He's umm.. helping me repair a service junction." he lied.

=/\= Good… hurry up and get to the bridge and relieve whoever's there. Cabbits out! =/\=

Nate's biting retort was lost on the tip of his tongue as the connection went dead. Sighing, the teen pushed himself up off the deck and began collecting the various implements that he'd toted down here. Apparantly he and Flo would be on the bridge all day with Clagh… which, if nothing else, would be very interesting. The prospect made him grin. A high Flo, and a no doubt pissed off Clagh. There was entertainment value there.

"Hey… wake up dude." Nate said, shaking his slumbering companion. "We gotta go."

"Huh? Moogie?"

"No fool… We gotta go to the bridge.. get up!" Nate pulled on his duty jacket once again and slung his tool pack. "Cabbits called and said we got bridge watch… C'mon."

Slowly, comprehension dawned and the Ferengi hauled himself to a kneeling position, one suitable for traversing the tube network. As he collected himself, he turned back to his human counterpart. "Can we stop by the Galley though… I am suddenly very hungry."

Originally Posted 28 August 2007 by Nathan Benjamin


T'Shaini sat on the floor, arms wrapped around her legs waiting for the shuddering to stop. Pragmatic to a fault (she was a Vulcan after all) she could not reconcile what she had just experienced with what she knew to be the truth. She pressed her forehead into her knees and a hiccup of something that might pass for laughter slid out of her mouth. Not often someone threatens to kill me, usually that is my job. How was any of that possible? Where had they been? How could that woman have known her if nothing was real? She shook her head, really what relevance did any of these questions have. She had, unknowingly, caused the one person with the ability to shed any light on them to lose his only connection with his daughter.

I am truly sorry.

She glanced at the chronometer and winced at how long she had indulged herself. Pulling herself to her feet T'Shaini took one last moment to press the heels of her hands into her eyes. I should sleep. Then she calculated the odds on such an activity and moved on. Shaking herself mentally and physically she went to take a shower and prepare for the evening at Sweeney's. Reality bending or not, she had a job to do.

Originally Posted 28 August 2007 by T'Shaini


Simon ripped off his jacket as he entered his quarters. He had either been on the Bridge or in the Brig for the past 36 hours straight, so he figured a little rest was deserved. Leaving the discarded garment on the floor, he trudged through the living section and into the washroom. Running some cold water into the basin, he splashed it onto his face before rinsing his hands. The chill water cooling his skin felt great, it calmed him dramatically. Looking at himself in the mirror, he frowned. Damn. Leaning in loser he double checked, yep. More grey hairs. Sighing to himself, he shook his head. This job was wearing him down severely, he needed a break. And not just shore leave, either. He needed to have a permanent break form it.

Looking around he spotted the large bath0tub that sat in the corner. Should he indulge? He desperately wanted to, but then again, knowing the way his life had gone so far, the minute he did, the alarm would sound, forcing him to limb out without enjoying it and head up the Bridge. What the hell? He thought to himself as he started to put water into it. More hot than cold, but just enough to take the blistering heat off the temperature. Going into the bedroom, he pulled out a dark brown dressing gown, he could at least wear something comfortable as he waited for it to fill up. Slipping the soft material over his shoulders, after discarding with the rest of his uniform, Simon sighed in content. It had been too long since he had given himself the luxury of just being like this.

Moving back into the washroom, he turned the water off and tried it. Shivering in anticipation at the warm feeling that greeted his hand. Letting the dressing gown fall to the floor, he lowered himself into the bath water with a hiss of pain as the water burned slightly, but only for an instant. It was that first moment that was always felt the most, but then it’s okay. Letting himself slide under the surface entirely for a brief moment, he enjoyed the sensation of floating the water. It felt good, he could almost see his worries and problems dispersing into the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. Sitting up again, he laid back and sighed happily. The first time he’d done that…well, he couldn’t remember that last time he’d sighed happily it had been that long ago.

Originally Posted 28 August 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


SS Antonio de Silva Baca
Past imperfect

“Now maybe you’d like to tell me just what kind of conversation you were having with my Wife.”

Of all the responses he might have imagined, the choking laughter that erupted from Moe’s lips hadn’t even made the list.

In retrospect, he should have noted it for the warning it had been.


A nameless time later, in, as Moe had put it, “A fine and private place…” Harry was waking to a sincere regret that he hadn’t paid attention to the salamander gleam that had sped across the downed hybrid’s eyes.


But he’d been out of patience hurting and had responded to the laughter viscerally. Shaking the sting from his knuckles, Finn held the still-charged truncheon in front of the silenced Ren. “Sorry, guess I missed the joke. Want to try again? Maybe tell my friend, Mr. New-Age Cattle Prod? He might think it’s funny.”

“Thanks, but no,” civil as an ambassador, Lammas pushed himself, slowly, up onto his elbows, “I was… amused… by Sara’s lack of faith in her husband.”

“Don’t,” Harry said, grabbing hold of some collar, “don’t… say her name.”

“Get real, Harry,” and Moe, contrary to expectation, had pushed his own face closer to the antagonized Finn, “You saw her leave… did she look upset? Coerced? No, because she came to see me. Wanted to remind me of the deal.”

Echoes of a dream “What deal?”

Beady eye roll. “The one she made for you? The one that guaranteed no member of the Orion Brotherhood could kill you…” He made his own opinion of that bargain clear as he added, “I guess love really is blind.”

Dropping the grip on the shirt, Harry had stood, rising lest the tide of confusion pull him under.


Becoming more fully aware of the here and now, Harry thought it was really too bad that, before he could try any highly charged prodding on the bastard, Ren had explained himself, or rather, explained Sara Finn, nee´ Laslow. How she, after spending some quality time with two other members of the Orion Brotherhood back in the day, had made a deal: keep one man out of jail, and another gets to live.


“So, no, Finn, while I won’t say I wasn’t tempted, I haven’t been getting to ‘know’ the missus. Only two of the Brothers ever had that particular pleasure.” A leering smile crept onto the smug face, “I hear you’ve met them, too.”

But Harry hadn’t heard that last: reeling from the heady mixture of ancient betrayal and a now-raging fever he’d reached down and hauled Ren to his feet, throwing him at the couch and, following, noted again the flask that sat, open and so inviting, on the table.

Without even thinking, he grabbed the bottle by the neck, brought it to his lips and tipped it back.

It was cold and he was wet and the hangover had just honed itself to the fine edge of ‘heaving your guts out onto the pavement’, which wasn’t fair because, technically, Finn was still drunk. Exceedingly drunk. Had been for, he held up a hand, thinking he might be able to tally the days on all the extra fingers he was currently sporting but that was just too high to count on a recently re-gurgitated breakfast… dinner… whatever. He’d been inebriated for quite some time.

Not inebriated enough, though. Never enough to dull the eviscerating shame that ripped through his soul every time he opened his eyes to the living hell he’d made.

He tried to stand… it had begun to rain (rain in San Francisco, ha! That never happened) and the bar would be closing soon. Time, then, for one last shot…

The bottle fell from numbed fingers even as Larry and Curly made a sudden and violent entrance (Moe, it seemed, had a panic button on his person). As it happened, Harry, stunned by the potent combination of alcohol and this latest trip to la la land, had done most of their work for them: it had been merely a matter of retrieving the fallen Breen weapon and applying it’s paralyzing charge to Finn, himself.


And now, here was Harry, his beleaguered arms screaming him to consciousness as he swayed heavily from restraints that someone (Curly, he was willing to bet) had slung over an exposed beam in the dark and hidden room’s ceiling.

He winced as a sudden light screamed across his retinas, harbinger of damage yet to be inflicted, he was sure.

“Now that you are once more in the world,” the supercilious voice of Moe confirmed the supposition, “It’s time we got down to business.” Blinking, Harry was able to make out all three stooges and their assembled … implements.

“You might be wondering about that whole arrangement Sara,” and Lammas was sure to accentuate the use of her name, “made with the Orions.”

Actually, Harry had been wondering how many layers of bullshit he’d have to cut through to get to Moe’s diseased heart but, tomato, tomahto.

“As it happens,” the gloating freak continued, “Neither of my friends, worthy though they be, are members of that particular organization.” Moe leaned forward, his face gleaming with anticipatory sweat, “They don’t have to honor any old debts.”

Upside, this probably meant he’d never need to see Khev about that infected hand.

Harry tried to find comfort in that thought as the smallest man in the room, who also happened to be the one with the most power, took several paces back from his trophy, narrowed eyes locked on Harry’s own unmoving gaze until the Klingon, Toq, eclipsed his view.

Ren smiled.

A fine and private place, indeed.

Originally Posted 28 August 2007 by Harry Finn


Kamenze stretched her legs over the side of the captain's chair, bending her head back and catching the ball in her left hand. She tossed it again and caught it in her right. Back and forth, back and forth.

"Anything yet, Kids?"

Grumbled "No, Sir's" came from around the bridge.

"You are telling me that with all that space out there and the new sensors we appropriated from those fools back there, you can't find me one good target?"

This time there was no response. Pev, standing near the captain's chair, shifted his weight from one foot to the other, resisting the urge to scratch at his eye and the itching he felt in an arm that was no longer attached. Phantom pain, maybe, but no one had warned him about phantom fleas. It felt to him as if they were burrowing under the flesh where his cybernetic arm joined the real flesh. Almost time for another dose, he told himself. As soon as you can get away for a moment.

The captain sighed loudly and started bouncing the ball off the ceiling. Never a good sign.

"Pev. I'm bored. And, you know what I like to do when I'm bored?"

"Aye, sir. You strip the ensigns down to their underwear and force them to hit each other with wooden paddles until the bruises show, and two for flinching."

"Yes, that's true. Ahh, good times. But I also like to check in with my friends… I'm thinking that everyone here would like to check in with my friends, wouldn't you? Main viewer, Brig!"

On the main view screen the brig appeared and the back of a women, dressed in black leather, was clearly visible. Her shaved head with it's quarter of an inch of hair reflected the small bit of light that the room possessed. Behind her, on the wall, the light source could be seen: wall torches.

"Darby, my love, aren't the torches a bit much?" Said Kamenze to the Chief of the Brig. Everyone knew that there was no such thing as a 'Chief of the Brig' but what Darby Saunders wanted the Captain made happen for her.

"Could be, but I like the feeling of 'em. What can I do for you, Captain?"

"Just checking in on those two bridge officers I sent to you last week…How are they fairing under your kind hospitality?"

"Fairing? Well, your Blue Bunny there said they made rather good 'fare'!"

At "Blue Bunny" Pev jumped forward, only to be caught by the captain. "There, there now," she said to the Brig Chief. "No need for name calling." Pev growled lowly until the captain squeezed on his shoulder, and then relaxed. "So, you are no longer playing host to them?"

"They have gone to, ahhh, greener pastures, My Captain." From all around the bridge there were glances tossed, a shifting of body weight and a palpable sense of unease.

"Good, I'll be down to chat about what you learned later…much later. Free for dinner?"

"And more…"

The Captain threw back her head and laughed. "Taray out!"

"Captain, I've got another one of those messages coming though, all static."

"The captain will take that in her personal lounge," said Pev as Kamenze swung her long legs over his head and stood up. The S'ti'ach followed behind, close enough that he could watch hers carefully.

As they entered her study and the doors closed behind Pev Kamenze asked, "Did you send our friend out to find us something exciting?"

"Does 'greener pastures' mean you left those idiots back on that planet?" Pev countered.

She turned quickly and knelt down next to him, looking him straight in his one good eye. "We got all the useful information we could out for them and then…yes. I don't have quite the blood lust of my Chief of Security, Pev. Sorry to deny you a meal. Now, get Syszzax in here, if you would, and let's see what he found."

The Security Chief smiled, and it was all teeth. "Aye, sir," he said with a nod. Walking over to the comm panel, he keyed in a series of commands, sending a wave of hypersonics through the ship, and keyed on the panel. In an instant, the energy form known as Syszzax stood before Pev and the captain.

"Report," said Kamenze, stretching out her left leg and placing it sensuously on Pev's shoulder. Crooking her knee, she moved him back a step and let her leg dangle down his front.

*Long-range scanners detect Federation vessel. Crippled. Lifesigns. Energy fluctuations.*

Pev asked, "These would be the long-range scanners that no one but the three of us know about, correct? The special enhancement that we made to the power relays?"

*That is accurate.*

Pev turned, careful not to move his CO's leg from it's perch. He let his gaze travel the length of the limb, and upwards, to meet her gaze.

"It appears, Captain, we now have a target."

Originally Posted 29 August 2007 by Pev and Kamenze


Hell Hellity McHell-Hell. Simon raced onto the Bridge. Great, junior officers and Cadets. Obviously the others were either busy or waylaid by something. He had heard the ship-wide announcement as well as everyone else. “Have they seen us, Ensign?” He asked the helm officer.

“I believe so sir, at least they’re heading this way.” Bloody hell!

“ETA?” He needed to know so he could formulate a plan. No information, no plan of action to avoid the chaos that is so going to ensue with the arrival of the pirate vessel. The pilot gave it to him. “Make a scan of their vessel, I want to know everything we can about them. I mean everything possible. Weapons, compliment, even the number of brackets on their hull.”

This was exactly the thing he’d been afraid of, exactly the type of thing he’d wanted to avoid. Why he’d stayed out the ’Fleet. His blood was pumping, he paced around the Bridge, needing to release pressure. A good battle was what he needed, not some one-sided flee-or-die fight with some outrageously superior vessel, but a fight like this. If only they weren’t so bloody crippled.

“Engineering. We’ll need all the power you can give me ASAP. I don’t care where it comes from, maybe find some stray protons in the sonic showers.” He couldn’t see a way for them to fight…maybe if they surrendered to begin with, and then fought the crew on a deck-by-deck basis, they may just win. It was a long shot, a very long shot.

Originally Posted 30 August 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


Gravedigger
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Gravedigger

Inwardly cursing at her penchant for picking music to echo her situations, as T’Shaini danced she looked across the room at Alex, his face tight with concern, then to Kerrin looking pinched and pale. Harry was always here, it was his bar. Dammit, I told him to leave it alone. Her body on autopilot, she ran scenarios in her head, while her hair swung and her hips rolled. Oh Gods something has gone terribly wrong. The weight of her worry sank her to the ground and the close of the song found her on her knees with her face pressed into her hands. Sliding her hands down to press over the tightness in her chest, she opened her eyes to see Alex stepping onto the stage to help her to her feet. Habit made T’Shaini rise to her feet ignoring his hand, but the flash of hurt across his face made her take his arm as they walked backstage.

“Can you take care of the bar? I need to go look for him.” She saw the adolescent chivalry fill him with the desire to insist that he look, being the man. “No, I need you to stay here and take care of Kerrin.” She watched him deflate, then re-inflate with new purpose. Easy buttons to push. She found herself unaccountably touched when he nodded, then cupped her face to kiss her on the cheek and whispered ‘If we lose you too…’.

The need for pretense gone once Alex had returned to the bar, T’Shaini sat down heavily, she had no idea where to start or how she, alone, could help in a situation that was too much for Harry to handle. Her mind kept spiraling back to Javier and his unknown powers. Could he locate Harry? It was clear he would be of use in a fight if it came to that. Or perhaps he could just…do whatever it was he did and get him out. Pipe dreams. She had torn his family from him, how did she expect to enlist his aid to rescue the only thing that passed for hers.

What do I possess that could induce him to help me…how can I make reparation?

She had never offered herself to someone, never thought to offer herself to someone, and now, she was in a situation desperate enough to consider even her body a commodity to be bargained, it was to someone who had no interest.

She gathered up every credit she owned, willed her pride behind and went in search of Javier.

Originally Posted 30 August 2007 by T'Shaini


=/\= Tatiana come to the bridge! There’s a ship on an intercept course! =/\=

She heard her name and her eyes shot open. Someone from the bridge was calling her. She couldn’t place the face with the name, but she knew she was needed on the bridge.

Tatiana was in her room, dozing. It was something she missed out on in the short amount of time that she had been running the Belfast. She missed sleep, but her freedom and protecting the crew from further consequences from idiotic plans was worth more to her than a few more hours of shuteye. She jumped quickly off the surface of her bed, and tried as quickly as she could to make her way to the bridge.

“Damn, it seems like I spend more time there than I do in my own room. I just left from there,” she grumbled in the turbolift as she rubbed her eyes.

She exited the Bridge to find O’Fallen already knee-deep in giving the crew instructions. The entire Bridge crew was focused on their work, and she found it somewhat amusing to see her two favorite cadets working rather than bullshitting their time away as she had become accustomed to hearing about.

“Weapons are charging!”

“Dammit! Is it a Belfast free-for-all? Evasive Manuevers!” Tatiana shouted.

The ship shook under the force of the enemy’s phaser fire, and several stations on the Bridge exploded in response.

“Shields are going down quickly Tatiana!” The Security Officer yelled out.

“Hey Tatiana! Look it’s a lizard, like the one we put in Mikhail’s food!”

She paused. It was a little boy’s voice, one she didn’t recognize. She didn't know the Mikhail the boy mentioned either. She had no relatives except for her childless uncle who raised her when her parents ran off and left her behind. She often blamed her attitude issues on the fact that no one wanted to be around her long enough. She left home as soon as Starfleet took her and never looked back. Her parents gave her, her ability to leave people along with her good looks. She just decided to use it. Who was she to argue with genetics?

The ship rocked again.

They should have gotten further with the repairs. There was no way they’d survive the battle in their condition.

A station exploded and the end of the Belfast came closer,

“Damn, just when I was feeling a connection with being in charge.”

Originally Posted 30 August 2007 by Tatiana Thorne


Simon saw the console explode.Ty vole. He grabbed a nearby Engineering kit and dived under it. Now the Captain was on the Bridge, he was expendable. Reaching up, he pulled the casing loose. Bloody hell. It may be an old ship, but did they have to stick to the traditional wiring? It was going to get them killed. He picked a piece of equipment and reached inside. The problem was simple, just a broken connection and a fused power alignment coil. Wait. He paused. Since when was he an engineer? He had been Pilot before going to Command Division. Yet, here he was, jammed under the damaged console watching his hands move way too quickly for a pilot-come-Exec with little to no experience with such things.

Shrugging it off for the moment, he let his mind go blank and the fingers move as they wanted. Bring the wires together. Soldering iron. Fix together. Good enough for now. The power coil was something else entirely. There wasn’t one in the kit. He’d have to cobble one together if the console was to be usable. Reach over to the underside of the next one, he pulled that casing loose. Changing some of the wiring, he was able to extract the coil form there without severing the power flow. Thank God he hadn’t burnt his fingers to bits. Putting the coil back into place, the console above him powered, flickered, and then finally came to life. Sliding back out from underneath, he ran the quickest of slapdash diagnostics. Good, it worked.

Heading over to the lower portion of the Bridge, he frowned heavily. How had he known what to do? He had failed to grasp the fundamentals of mechanics as a child, so why now all of a sudden was it coming to him? He let the turbulence of the Bridge move around him. He scanned through his memories, piecing one after the other in order, trying to see if there was another instance of something like this. Not that he could…wait! There! He frowned even harder. Was that his memory? It seemed to be, but it couldn’t be…two memories of the same point were in his mind. Him, as a Cadet, getting a classmate of his a drink. Yet, next to it, was the same situation, same moment, same Cadet, yet here she was slapping him across the face. What the hell was going on?

He shook it off. The ship needed him, now was so not the time to be analysing a memory confusion. He looked to the Captain for some reaction. The last time he had come up with an idea in a similar situation, he had been thrown in the Brig, he didn’t want that happening again, if he could help it. He would wait, see if she had anything, and then give his suggestions, not jump straight in with his plan of action.

Originally Posted 31 August 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


I sit here locked inside my head
Remembering everything you said
The silence gets us nowhere!
Gets us nowhere way too fast.
The silence is what kills me
I need someone here to help me.

::Lower Engineering Deck::

Water dripped down from a pipe above him. It fell through the grate he was sitting upon and struck the open plasma lines beneath with an angry hiss. He had been sitting for hours in the murky darkness of lower engineering. When Javier had left T'Shaini he had been on the verge of snuffing out the life of the Vulcan woman. He still entertained sporadic thoughts of making her suffer but then these thoughts would give way to his pain and the great open sore of not having Lia near would drag Javier down into a crushing blackness of despair. It was a despair so deep and unfathomable that he found himself not caring how many hours, or even days, passed. Another drop, followed by a hiss, then the steam was filtered away into the air, giving the atmosphere in the maintenance passageway a misty appearance. Hours before his tears had mixed with the run-off from the pipes and hissed as they fell on the plasma relays.

I could kill them all. I could transport them all into the void of space. The entire ship…I'd start with T'Shaini then just randomly pick people. One by one people just begin to disappear. It would be…karma. Javier admitted to himself. Emotions that had been buried inside of him for months threatened to burst forth in one cataclysmic chain-reaction. I can't do that…what would Lia think if I..why am I worrying what my dead daughter would think? He scraped his fingers over his head. The anger, tension and urge to lash out at the universe..at anyone, for his loss had reached boiling point.

It started with her! The Vulcan woman. And that's where I'll end. The engineer left the maintenance tube, his fury plain on his face. The bar. The thought brought the transition and he was carried to the establishment where T'Shaini worked. It was crowded inside the bar but Javier pushed his way to the front. He knew, or felt, that he could have used his thoughts to move the patrons but enjoyed the visceral feel of shoving his way through the crowd. One customer pushed back and drew a weapon while he voiced his displeasure at being shoved by a hew-mon.

It was almost too simple. Grabbing the pirate's arm and twisting until the Ferengi screamed, Javier caught the knife as it dropped from his assailant's hand. The knife wove a pattern of strokes in the air around the Ferengi's head. The light refracted from the dark metal as it sliced through the Ferengi's lobes before Javier sunk the blade in the pirate's throat. Movement to his left alerted the engineer to the approach of another. Retrieving the knife, he turned and threw the blade into the chest of the approaching man. The force of the throw and the heavy blade forced the attacker back. A gurgling cry resonated through the bar as the pirate slumped to the floor.

He looked around but the other patrons avoided his gaze. Javier moved towards the bar where he knew the owner would be. He'll have his bat ready. the engineer thought. But at the bar he found the younger bartender and another female. There was no sign of the owner or T'Shaini. "Where's the whore?" he demanded.

The female blanched and began to stutter a reply. Javier ignored her. "Where's the Vulcan?" he asked the bartender, his voice rough as his jaw clenched in anger.

"She's not working tonight. And even if she was you wouldn't be able to see her," the bartender replied.

"Right," Javier replied and turned to go backstage, where he knew the woman was preparing for her next dance. He felt a hand on his shoulder. "I said she's not here, and you aren't allowed backstage," the bartender re-iterated.

He grasped the man's hand, turning to face the bartender as he forced the man's fingers back. With a yelp, the bartender tried to back up, to put distance between himself and Javier. As he backed away, Javier pressed forward, bending the man's fingers farther until his wrist dropped and Costala forced the bartender to his knees. "Tell me where the Vulcan is or I'll break every goddamned finger on your hand," Javier threatened, applying enough force to make the young man yell out.

The sound of approaching feet made him look up in time to dodge a bottle. The pale female looked around then grasped another bottle, poised herself to throw it. Javier kicked the bartender back onto the floor, slamming his foot against the man's chest, then started towards the female. She faltered then threw the bottle. Javier was so incensed he didn't even flinch. The bottle hit him in the shoulder, shattering as fragments of glass cut into his cheek and face. The female turned to run but he caught her by the fabric of her clothes. Pulling her backwards, Javier pushed her against the back of the bar, pinning her with his body.

"Where's the Vulcan?" he asked the woman as she struggled to free herself. The woman spat in his face. A resounding slap echoed through the bar. A reddened mark appeared on the side of the woman's pale face, the shape of the mark congruent to the shape of Javier's hand. The woman cried out and a small sob came from her throat. At the sound, Javier really saw the woman for the first time and took notice of the terror he was instilling in her. He had leaned on people before for information, and in ways that were not particularly pleasant. But that was before Cat and Lia had come into his life. Now Javier found he didn't have the stomach to continue the interrogation. He stepped aside leaving her an opening to get away from the bar, away from him.

"Get out of here!" he said to the woman. she looked at him in terror, rooted to the spot. "Go on." Javier nudged her away. She walked away, casting fearful glances in his direction, as she made her way towards the young bartender who was groaning on the floor.

"What a childish tantrum," Q said from his spot next to Javier. "Dear me, you seem to have a bit of a temper..was this hiding beneath the surface all the time?" The being sounded appalled but Javier knew he was just being dramatic.

"No, maybe, I don't know," he said belligerently. "Thinking about Lia and..losing her again. That Vulcan bitch, I don't care if we were lovers in another reality. I'm going to kill her. If it weren't for her I would still be.."

"With Lia?" Q answered. "Not necessarily. This is my experiment. I decide the rules." At that moment, the engineer wondered if he could dump Q in space along with T'Shaini. "Temper, temper Javier," Q replied, "even though the idea is rather fun. Ah the dances she could do for me." For a moment Q seemed to entertain the thought of keeping the Vulcan as his private dancer. The being returned his attention to Javier and stated, "Really, you humans are so violent. It just proves my theory, with the right sort of environment humans would revert to their violent past…if only Jean-Luc were here, I'd make him eat his words."

"Oh, the parrot? I sold him to Zarm," Javier replied as he reached beneath the bar and brought forth a dusty looking bottle. He opened it, sniffed the bottles contents and started to drink, wishing that the liquid was Aldebaran whiskey. To his great surprise, the familiar taste of Aldebaran whiskey filled his mouth. He swallowed it quickly and the liquid set his insides on fire. Coughing as he pulled the bottle away from his lips, Javier could only stare at its bright green contents. "This..I..it wasn't..then I thought about it."

"You should try drinking it from a glass. The effects are not as potent," Q replied sagely.

"But how did I do that?" the engineer asked then barrelled into another question, "How can I transport myself and others to places I've never been? I have all these abilities..where would they come from?" Javier asked the being known as Q. Q smiled knowingly and poured he and Javier a glass of the green colored distilled beverage. "You? They're coming from you?" Javier realized.

"Light breaks where no sun shines," Q quoted sarcastically. "It has taken you long enough."

"Why? Why do I get them?" Javier asked in confusion.

"You've just been granted one of the greatest honors and all you can do is inquire why you got it?" Q remonstrated. "You have the power to do..pretty much anything you like and you want to know why. Ungrateful human. No wonder it took tens of thousands of years for your species to swim out of the primordial soup. You probably sat around debating why you should do it for 9 999 years." Q gave Javier a look of displeasure then vanished.

Damn it! He always does that instead of giving any real answers. The engineer surveyed the chaos of the room. He did say anything. Javier wondered if he should close his eyes. It seemed right to do so. He barely blinked but the bar was set in order when he next viewed it. The two pirates he had killed were no longer laying on the floor. He had sent them to a special freezer in the mess. Javier walked over to the two employees of the bar. They have not told me where T'Shaini is, why should I help them?

Because you don't need them to tell you where she is. You already know. Q's exasperated voice echoed in his thoughts.

"Ah, yes," the engineer stated as he reached down. The female shrank away from him as the young bartender placed his arms around her protectively. "Don't worry," Javier said as he touched the man's arm and then the woman's face. The bruise that had been swelling on the woman's face disappeared and the young man began to flex his hand in surprise as he felt no pain. "Now for T'Shaini," Javier said as he stood to his feet and the world around him turned. He found himself alone in a passageway with the dancer.

Quote from 'For You' by Staind

Originally Posted 31 August 2007 by Javier Costala


SS Antonio de Silva Baca

Spitting blood into the face of Curly (oh, so sorry, didn’t see you there) Harry wondered if it were possible for the competing afflictions to reach some sort of null stage, where they cancelled each other out.

A sudden cracking sensation in his rib-cage told him - no, not so much.

It also re-opened the door. Spiraling along the route laid down by pain, Harry found himself graveside at the only funeral to which he’d been welcome. Watching the symbolic lowering of Seth Anderson’s empty casket into the Earth where he’d been born and had wished, always, to end his days, Harry felt Jenny’s hand clutching his, her tears wetting his sleeve.

It would have been good to reach out to her, Seth’s daughter, who had followed her father into Starfleet, the girl Harry had taught to swear, and the only person willing to stay in the same room as Finn, after…

It was probably meaningful, how each external trauma immediately sent him to some internal vacation spot… there was training for that sort of thing… but he’d never taken it.

If he had, he’d never have chosen these visions.

Face it, Finn, you’re gifted.. or psychotic… or…

Toq was on, now, bringing one of the shiny party favors, but before Harry could even register what was being done he was looking up into the sheeting rain, just barely able to make out the face of Will, his brother… almost a spitting image of Dad, offering him a hand up from the soiled pavement…

“I don’t think he’s really paying attention,” Lammas Ren observed as Toq dropped his latest tool to the spattered deck. “Eddas,” he nodded to the behemoth heavy-worlder, “see if you can’t get Mr. Finn to focus.”

Harry grinned at the naked curiosity that danced across T'Shaini's face, "What, this?" he dropped the yo-yo in a simple gravity pull, then hauled it up and employed both hands to perform the only recently-perfected Man on the Flying Trapeze; then, as the sidewalk wasn't too littered, he ended with his classic, Walking the Dog. "This," he said, catching the wooden bauble and handing it to the Vulcan with a flourish, "is called a …”

“Gyyyyaaah!” An electrified spasm yanked him back to the present.

“Now, that’s more like it,” Ren approved and he nodded for Eddas to continue his use of the energy whip.

In time, how much there was no knowing, the visions blended into one long hallucinogenic carousel of a life not lived, filled with people never met or other than themselves or themselves but dead, while the overlying assaults mated and twisted into their own miasmic haze of agonies.

When, finally, he felt the creeping darkness come to overtake the pain, Harry, who had never been one for music, was surprised by the song twining through what remained of his consciousness…

Gravedigger
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain

He recognized the piece as one of T’Shaini’s and wanted to laugh at the appropriateness but laughter was just… too far from where he’d come.

Thinking of T’Shaini, the one that he knew he knew, Harry recalled her last words to him…

“Just try not to get killed.”

…Gravedigger
Grave digger…

“Sorry, Tee,” he exhaled over the insult of one more sharp rupturing and the soft, smothering blackness which followed.

———————————————————————————

Eddas dropped Finn’s lolling head back to his chest. “I think we broke him,” he said, a little sadly. He gave the unconscious toy a poke but it was well and truly out.

“Perhaps later…” Ren’s response was interrupted as the deck beneath gave a slight shudder, followed by the unmistakable sounds of heavy phaser fire. “It seems our good captain has engaged us in a battle,” he observed thoughtfully, then…

“Cut him down and finish the job,” he ordered Eddas, “then space the body,” and he nodded to the airlock, at the rear of the access chamber in which they’d been playing.

“All good things…” Ren concluded as he and Toq left the chamber, Eddas, and the slithering thump of almost-meat hitting the floor behind.

————————————————————————————-

Somewhere… that was nowhere…. Harry Finn looked at … Harry Finn.

Harry Finn… another different Harry Finn… looked back.

“I really hate to say this,” he said to himself, “but… I don’t think there’s room enough here for the both of us.”

A shrug, “Probably not. Then again, might not even be a place for one, soon.”

“Point.”

“So.”

“Yeah.”

Sigh, times two.

“Whatchya thinking?”

Another shrug, “Rock, paper, scissors?”

“That’ll work… on three?”

Two almost-identical fists shook three times.

“Huh,” Finn looked up, “Could have sworn you’d go for paper.”

“I always take the rock,” Harry replied. Someone paying very close attention might have heard a sheen of regret in the words.

Somewhere… that was nowhere… Harry Finn watched himself disappear.

Originally Posted 31 August 2007 by Harry Finn


Frustration warring with panic T'Shaini paced the corridors looking for signs of Javier. Nowhere near the warp core, not in engineering, she had no idea where his quarters were, and the last time she went looking for him he appeared on his own. Should I just think Javi thoughts? Unwilling to give up, yet unsure of where to look for either Javier or Harry she began to descend further into the depths of the ship. Almost as soon as she had thought of it, he materialized before her. She froze, struck by realization that knowing she had to face the man who blamed her for the loss of his child and actually facing him were two completely different things.

"I…I realize that it is inappropriate of me…I realize that I have no right in…" She took a deep breath, wishing she could better read the expression on his face in the dimness of the corridor. "Harry is missing, he has some very dangerous enemies and you are the only one who can help." His stillness told her nothing. "I do not understand how it is you do what you do, but if I can offer you anything to aid in his search…" She brought out her credits. As his silence continued she held them out for him to take. "I do not know what to do in recompense for your daughter, but if there is a price to be paid that will enlist your aid, I will pay it."

Javier quietly listened to the Vulcan woman. The sense of loathing that he felt towards her was near unbearable and threatened to burst forth even as she explained her and her employer's troubles. "Ironic isn't it?" the engineer said, "that you would have someone you care for taken away and now you're seeking my help." He laughed at the Vulcan woman. It was a bitter, mirthless laugh. "I don't need your credits. Your profession has given you the idea that everyone can be swayed using monetary means…but you left the offer open. What else do you have to offer? Your body?"

He wanted to humiliate her, to make T'Shaini feel as horrible and as empty as he did. "Why would I lower myself to take you as a lover? Or to use you even for a few minutes of pleasure?" Javier turned and walked away, taking a few steps down the corridor before turning back and saying, "Well come on, my quarters are just down here. I didn't say no. The quicker you get undressed and we start, the sooner we can look for your friend."

Feeling the depth of his hatred wash over her, T'Shaini found it incomprehensible that he could find any sort of 'pleasure' with her. She fell into step beside him. "You will not accept my offer of payment, I do not believe you want my body and as much as I might wish to, I cannot bring back your child." She stepped ahead to turn and stop him. "I am unaccustomed to begging so undoubtedly I am doing poorly, but it is what I am doing. Please."

"No." Javier said forcefully. "Not until I get what I want."

The engineer took hold of the dancer's arms and pulled her in as his own lips crushed against T'Shaini's. The force of his want pushing her back against the side of the corridor. The images exploded in his mind as through physical contact the mental link between them was connected. Javier saw memories he recognized from their last encounter then he was bombarded by the newer ones with he, T'Shaini and Lia. His arms encircled T'Shaini, the woman he loathed but who held the images he wanted, as his lips pressed against hers fiercely. The memories slowed and Javier started to pull back but found himself not wanting to release the woman. It had been a long time since he had felt anyone's touch or kissed anyone.

A plethora of different visions presented themselves. He had pushed futher into T'Shaini's psyche. He could see images of a younger T'Shaini. Intrigued, Javier went deeper into her memories. An image of another Vulcan. A familiar person. How do I know him? Javier thought as his lips massaged T'Shaini's. An instant of realization and Javier jerked back from T'Shaini, breaking the connection between them. "Who was that?" he asked, his voice a whisper.

Struggling to catch her breath, she pressed back against the wall. "My brother…"

"Your brother? What was his name? What happened to him?" Javier asked her. The questions pouring out of his mouth in a torrent.

Her brows knit in confusion at the abrupt change. "Selan, he was," Her voice went flat "killed in the line of duty."

No, he was assasinated. Javier thought. "Was he close to you?" he asked, as the engineer stepped back from the sister of the man he had killed under orders from Section 31. "I mean..is that why you're so..dead now?"

Her eyes narrowed. Was this some sort of test? "Yes, we were close." The all too familiar constriction in her chest made her breath come short. She tried to swallow around it. "Even closer than Harry and I."

"Harry..we'd better find him then," Javier replied, changing the subject to one that didn't threaten to expose his former life. His mind searched the ship, running through the various cabins in a mili-second. Nothing there. Knowing that the persons Harry and T'Shaini were dealing with would use violent measures, he centered on the weakened life-signs on the Silverback that were barely alive. Which was about four, one being a poor animal which he would find later and free. Two happened to be in the doctor's office. He could see the physician, his face twisted in a grin of insane glee approaching the two prisoners with an unpleasant looking device. With his mind, Javier broke Dr. Khev's legs before he could move to inflict any pain on his helpless victims.

He found Harry, or what was left of Harry, in an access chamber. "We have to go now," Javier said, as he transported them to the chamber. "A huge Klingon and another man jerked back in surprise as Javier and T'Shaini appeared in front of them. It took a minute or less for the man to realize that the two newcomers had witnessed he and his accomplice with the bloody remains of one Harry Finn.

Originally Posted 31 August by T'Shaini and Javier Costala


"Get them," Ren told the Klingon, who moved forward to intercept T'Shaini.

"No," Javier said, slowing time, so that everything in the room, except he, T'Shaini and Harry appeared to be frozen in place.

T'Shaini was blind to her surroundings, the two men escaped her notice, all her attention focused on one thing…a broken Harry on the floor. She closed the distance and knelt beside him. A slight rise and fall of the chest indicated that he was still alive, but for how long? She looked up to Javier, finally taking in the frozen picture around them. "He needs medical attention, but I do not even know if we can move him."

"A life for a life," Javier replied, speaking more to himself than anyone else. He knelt beside Harry and thought about the man he had first seen at the bar. Then he placed his hand on the man's arm. The bloody, battered Harry was replaced with a fully healed Harry. "That should do it," Javier said as he stood up, noticing the vibrations of the ship. We're attacking someone.

From deep within, Harry - the one who remained - felt a… a kind of surge… like the tide off of Monterey, rising to push him up and out and away… (but it's quiet here and there's no…)… "pain," he said aloud, blinking into a world suddenly bereft of just that. "It's gone," he announced, as if sounding the words were some great achievement. Then, "He's gone," and this was more confused.

Finally, Harry took in who was kneeling next to him and displaying, quite possibly, more agitation than he'd ever before seen in her. "Wen…T'Shaini…"

Watching the miraculous transformation took T'Shaini's breath away. Seeing Harry's eyes open and sense return to them was beyond description. As logical as she was, at the moment she did not need any explanations, she was simply grateful. She reached out to put her hand on top of his. "Are you alright?"

There was no easy answer to that so-simple question but, knowing the Vulcan's concerns were more… of this world, he responded with a plain, "I'll… do. Yes."

Relief washed over her and was instantly replaced with annoyance. She smacked him hard on the shoulder. "God DAMMIT Harry, I told you not to go."

"Ow," was his casual response, rubbing the now-whole shoulder. Taking a deep breath, he brought himself to a sitting position, realized that the big bads were still in the room and jumped to his feet, ready to do, well, just about anything to not wind up on the wrong end of Toq ever again… his eyes crossed the rusty-looking puddles on the floor, then up.

Ever… again.

A noise made Finn whip around, where he realized another player was standing, "Cos.." he began, then, eyes gone flat, swept one hand down to the befouled decking and, coming back up with one of Toq's toys he released the wickedly curved blade in the same move.

Three sets of eyes watched as Curly, deeply inconvenienced by the Mek'leth in his throat, tipped over, the laser scalpel he'd carried clattering hollowly to the floor where it rolled until it ran into Costala's boot. Finn turned back to Moe and Larry but, amazingly, they weren't joining the fray. "Huh."

Javier sighed and reached down to strip the disruptor pistol from the thug's belt. He walked over to the two frozen thugs, looked at them thoughtfully, then returned to the dancer and her employer. "I'm tempted to dump them into space. But since they are with the Syndicate that would not be prudent." He absent-mindedly nudged the laser scapel across the floor with the toe of his boot. "What do they want with you? Do you owe them money?" he asked Harry.

Loaded question, and again, no easy answers. "Grudge match," was his best option as he scoured Ren for any usable weaponry. Coming up with his own phaser, a stun-grenade and a Klingon Qis he added, "Only Moe here was official." Stepping back, he considered the dilemma proposed by the surviving two stooges, currently doing their best imitation of statues in some backwater fright museum. He looked back at the younger man, "So," he pointed to the manikins, and then to himself, "Your doing?"

"Yes, his doing." T'Shaini rose her her feet and crossed to Javier. "I cannot thank you enough." She looked around the surreal still life, then at the floor, painted with Harry's blood. She struggled to find something more than simple thanks…and came up with nothing.

The engineer's gaze dropped to the deck. "It's nothing," he said, his thoughts on T'Shaini's brother. A life for a life. He turned to Harry. "There's two ways to do this. I can make them disappear..or we could make them think you are dead."

Harry didn't think it was 'nothing'. He thought it was whacked. Didn't make him ungrateful but, at that last offer… "How about we try a third way," he countered, eyes steady on the man who could, it seemed, rewrite reality and, yeah, it scared the crap out of him but still, "How about we try letting me take care of my problem. I'm not… I appreciate what you did, don't doubt that, really, really don't… but the thing is, I'm starting to get the feeling that if I take the easy way, here, if I make the wrong choice… " I'll be stuck in hell forever, "I just think there are some things a man is supposed to take care of on his own," he finished, praying his lame-ass reasoning would mean something, here.

"It doesn't matter to me," Javier replied, feigning indifference. He was embarassed by the man's gratitude. "I did it for T'Shaini," he finally said with a shrug of his shoulders, "you're lucky to have such loyal friends." The engineer looked across the room to where T'Shaini stood. "I need to speak with you about a matter..not now, but later perhaps."

Hushing the small voice in the back of her head that kept attempting to analyze his abrupt change of heart and a slight edge of fear for what he may attempt to collect in payment for his assistance,T'Shaini nodded her acquiescence.

Feeling the tension in the air thicken to the density of magma, Harry looked at T'Shaini, then Costala and realized that, in this case, he was so far out of his depth he was drowning. Awkward, was the word that sprang to mind.

"Then I have one more helpless creature to help," Javier said before he disappeared from the access tube. The room in which he re-appeared was lavishly decorated, the bed large and comfortable looking. A whimper from beneath the edge of the bed told him that the one in need of help was still in the same place. He knelt down and smiled at the dog. "Come here boy," Javier said in a friendly tone, then whistled softly. The dog crept out from under the bed and cautiously sniffed at the hand the engineer held out. Javier slowly petted the dog, whose tail thumped against the floor as he belly-crawled towards Javier. "Hey boy, good dog," the engineer said as he petted the dog. "Ready to go find a better owner?" he asked the dog.

The access chamber had not changed much since his departure. Javier softly patted the dog, who shivered slightly after the transport. "This is…Baca. I just named him and a ship's name is as good as any," Javier told T'Shaini. "He needs an owner that will treat him well and feed him regularly." Javier scratched behind Baca's ear.

Reaching out to take the dog from Javier, T'Shaini attempted to cover her small squeal of pleasure with a cough. She held the animal close and felt the trembling subside from contact with the warmth of her body.

Watching the miracle of this T'Shaini embracing life, any life, Harry felt the beginnings of a smile which faded when his gaze crossed the frozen grimace of Moe. "Why don't you two kids take the pup for a walk?" he suggested, mildly, looking straight at Javier. "I'll just, clean up the mess… see you later." The deck lurched, once, indicating the escalation of whatever engagementKamenze had undertaken, "if there is a later, that is."

Assuming that, just for once, someone would take his suggestion, Harry started maneuvering the stiffened syndicate shill towards the airlock. He had a job to finish.

Originally Posted 31 August 2007 by Harry Finn, T'Shaini, & Javier Costala


They were being slowly crippled one system at a time. The pirate weapons officer was evidently more experienced than their own. He felt the ship buck and slide under his feet as he attempted to stay upright. Smoke rose from the Bridge in thick waves, making it necessary for him to squint to see anything. This was useless; he needed to get somewhere where he was needed, where he could do some good. Looking back at the console had just repaired, he had an idea. Leaning in close to the Captain, he told her he was heading down to Engineering to assist where he could. A curt nod was the response.

The turbolift was sluggish as he went down, so he cancelled the trip, figuring that it’d be easier to walk. Stepping out on C Deck, he saw people running left and right amid the sounds of destruction. God, was the ship tearing apart around him? If that were the case, then he’d get one wish at least. But that was something else. He wanted to leave the Fleet and never be able to be brought back in, but not taking an entire crew with him. A young crewman stumbled and fell to the floor. Simon paused in his race to the Engineering deck to help her to her feet. She smiled gratefully at him, and he resumed his progress to Engineering, still clutching the kit in his hands.

The corridors were long, and hazardous, especially with all the fractured casing that littered the deck plate beneath his feet, but he managed to navigate his way through and around without slowing up too much. When he came to one of the emergency shafts that ran throughout the entire ship, he pulled off the bulkhead that sat flush with the wall and lifted himself in. The ladder was long, and narrow. Gripping the sides tightly, while making sure he didn’t loose the engineering kit, he let himself slide down it a fair way before stopping. Now he could hear the noises that came from the Engine room. Too faint to discern, but he could hear them none the less.

Climbing the last section as fast as he could without endangering himself, Simon leapt off the bottom and turned the corner into the main part of Engineering. “Ty vole.” He uttered under his breath. It was chaos, only slightly under control. People were running about, jumping over equipment and their fellow engineers, orders and counter-orders were being barked back and forth. Making a quick glance around, he couldn’t see her immediately, so he grabbed the arm of a passing tech. “Cadet, where’s the chief?” The man nodded in a direction, and Simon looked. He saw her overseeing some repairs to what looked like a fuel intake conduit.

Walking over, he tapped her on the shoulder. She wheeled around to face him, a look of fury on her face, but then her mouth snapped shut. “Sir!”

“Thought I’d give you a hand, Lieutenant.2 He lifted the kit to indicate what he meant. It was then that the ship shuddered worse than it had up to then. The whole room shook, and crashed as equipment crashed to the floor. Simon himself went sprawling. When he looked up, he saw something that made his blood run cold. Plasma was venting from the Warp Core, A breach! He picked up Zora and pointed with his finger. She visibly paled.He let her do her job. Save the day in Engineering. Taking it upon himself to get out of the way, he went for some minor damage, figuring it would be good to help them do clean up, while the others did the major work.

Originally Posted 1 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


Zora wanted to scream as she saw the breach. But this wasn't the time, her hair that had been all up but was now half down flew out behind her as she made her way to the control panel.

"Get people OUT! As many as can be spared!" she shouted over her shoulder. "Have them go to any other engineering panel they can find, as long as it's out of engineering! All NON-ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL!" she couldn't let them all go, she'd need help with this, but the less casualties the better.

She looked to Commander O'Fallen, and suddenly saw him with eyes-closed…yet they were open, as if he had been injured…she shook her head, she didnt' have time to be having hallucinations.

She sealed off the decks from Engineering after everyone was out, except the Commander, he seemed intent on helping.

"Okay Sir! You hit the control panel at the far end, get under it and bring out the covering, and find the wires. You want to cut the dark blue wire and the green wire then put them together, I don't wanna hear any complaining about being electrocuted." she snapped, and moved over to a control panel next to the one she was at, she keyed the controls quickly.

She breathed softly as she tried to concentrate. She keyed another control as she heard a yelp of pain from the commander, she grinned slightly, he'd done it right, she was going to have to give him a drink at some point. The seeping smoke was getting less.

She did three more crosswirings herself, and then keyed a few more controls. It stabilized, but they'd lost at least half their power.

"Oh shite! This is not good!" she swore to herself as she took a swig of alcohol and handed it to the commander. "We're gonna loose this battle."

Originally Posted 2 September 2007 by Zora Cabbits


“Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.”
……………………..Christopher Marlowe

The two stooges had been safely secured within the airlock, most of the, ah, tools, dumped in a handy recycler and, after some consideration, Curly’s body vaporized by the recovered phaser. Now, alone in the room, Finn leaned against the chamber wall and gave rise, briefly, to the shock he’d been holding down since opening his eyes to what he’d hoped, prayed and almost believed to have been a nightmare.

Sliding down the wall, one hand ran over the ragged and blood-stained shirt he wore. Costala had done a bang-up job of repairing the body but hadn’t gotten to the clothes. Those, along with the ensanguined decking, were potent reminders (like he needed any) of Moe’s creative malevolence.

Suddenly, his body gave in to an attack of shakes as violent as any bout of the DT’s. Harry buried his face in his hands, noting, briefly, something odd about the left one but soon too taken by the full-on psychedelic flashback of watching and waiting, trapped inside a body inside a life that wasn’t his. And when the torture had begun - and now Finn dropped his hands to stare at the ceiling beam from which he’d been hung like so much meat - while the bartender had been visiting the memories of Cadet Harry Finn, the Security Officer had been front and center for the war games. Still trapped, still unable to control or respond or even give sound to what was being done, while experiencing every technicolor detail.

Definitely a new one for the PTSD files.

Some hysterically rapid pounding on the airlock door dragged him back to the unreal present. The Big Freeze must have worn off. Dropping the wall against the debilitating memories, Harry rose to engage the intercom.

“This is your captain speaking,” he said coolly into the mic, “For your comfort and safety, we request that you remain seated, keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times and, under no circumstances should you press the red indicator light.”

The pounding stopped. “Finn?” came back over the system. “You… you’re alive?”

No, he thought, blackness dulling his vision and for one, violently charged instant his hand, which was still, somehow, wrong, hovered over the release mechanism. How easy it would be and who, really, would miss them? But, “I stuck around long enough to tell you that I’ve just programmed a two-hour hold on the airlock’s release. If you can open the hatch before that time is up, well, then… I’ll be waiting for you.

“If you can’t get out by then, I’ll just wave when you float by,” and shutting off the com, he walked away, ignoring the increasingly desperate hammering on the hatch.

He bet it’d be four hours before the freaks realized the lock wasn’t going to open and vent their screaming carcasses to the void. Finn hadn’t descended to the realm of murder… yet … but he was more than willing to give some of the fear back to those who dealt it. It was all the payback he could afford, and still remain himself.

Coming to the broader corridors of the warring vessel there was a sudden shift in the decking, clearly there’d been a maneuver too rapid for the inertial dampeners on the elderly ship to compensate. Catching himself on the nearest strut Harry’s eyes rested on the splayed fingers of his left hand and the hammer dropped. He knew what was wrong: there, third finger, a plain silver band.

A wedding ring.

Originally Posted 2 September 2007 by Harry Finn


Simon fumed as he followed the Chief’s orders. Bloody Engineers, always telling us to do the things they don’t want to do, because they may get hurt. He stormed out of the department, holding his burnt hand in the other one. Well, at least they were no longer about to blow up from a Warp Core breach, which was something. It still irked him. He wasn’t an Engineer, so why was he fixing things? Moving along the corridor on autopilot, he felt the ship stop shaking, either they had managed to evade their attackers for the time being, or the pirate ship had let up. He didn’t like the idea of either.

His feet propelled him to the ship’s rec room. Okay, so he was technically on duty, but his kind was so clouded by thoughts and memories were both were and weren’t his own that he was practically useless to anyone right now. He needed a drink, and a stiff one at that. He moved behind the low bench that served as a bar and looked through the cabinets. Ah! Irish Whisky, beautiful. He poured a generous amount and downed it all in one go. He poured a second, and a third. By now the small headache that was starting to form had lessened, his memories were clouding up even more, which meant that confusing ones were nothing more than a grey fog.

Simon sensed the presence of someone enter the room. Looking up, he saw a brunette woman sit down opposite him. “Hey, mind if I join you, Sir?”

He smiled at her and got another glass for her. “Sure, and please…whenever I’m drinking, loose the rank.” He poured her some whisky and more for himself. “So, you are?”

“Higginson, Lt. Teryl Higginson. I was in sickbay, but there are plenty of doctors to handle the incoming, so thought I’d take a break.” She took a small sip and smiled. “I like your tastes, Simon…right?”

The man nodded. “That’s right.” Finishing hid drink, he looked at the bottle. Empty. Bloody hell, had he gone through the majority of an entire bottle by himself? Ty vole! “Fancy another?” He asked, getting up to fetch another bottle form the cupboard.

She shook her head. “No, I should be getting back, but I’d love to have a drink some other time, maybe when we’re not being attacked by every species in the Quadrant. Come by, sometime. Deck 10, Cabin 3-26B.”

Simon nodded. “Sure! Love to.” He watched her leave after flashing him a rather suggestive smile, and sat back in the chair, smiling to himself. That was when the ship gave another lurch, and he fell out of his chair. Crap, the battle. Running outside, he made his way through the mass of people to the Bridge. Part of his mind was still focusing on the smile she had given him before walking out. Did he want to for a drink? It had been awhile since… since he had been with someone, but did he want to risk his past repeating itself? It was a big risk, but then, he figured that life was too short to not take risks. Was this a time to call the universe’s bluff and see what hand it was holding? Or maybe fold. Curious choice.

Originally Posted 3 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon


“I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.”
…………………………………………..T.S. Eliot

Sara Finn stood in the doorway of the lower-port airlock’s access chamber. It was empty now, but for too much blood in various states of aridity and - she crossed to the tacky center of the floor and reached down - a torn piece of blue material, stained with gore.

She stared at the scrap in her hands for a very, very long time.

Morning had come and gone, and brought no Harry with it. She’d contacted Alex, but he’d no word and T’Shaini was out of touch, as well but she often went off on her own, no explanations given.

Sara, at a loss, returned to Lammas Ren’s quarters but no one was home. She’d made sure of that, calling on old skills to enter the suite and, finding nothing useful, had returned to the cabin where she’d discovered a message on the desktop terminal for Harry - which she’d accessed without a second thought.

"You will submit yourself for 'testing' or this finds it's way into the captain's hands." she heard the twisted glee of Khev’s voice and then sat, abruptly, seeing the record of her husband, with quick and brutal efficiency, taking down the man who’d just that morning toasted to the bargain of Harry’s continued safety from the Orions.

“Damn it Harry,” she whispered, “Just once, just once, could you have not been sharp enough to cut yourself?”

Of course, he wasn’t there to answer and Sara, with nowhere else to turn, dug out her old tricorder and set to searching the ship on her own. Harry, being human, was too hard to locate but Lammas Ren was a hybrid - a mix of Acamarian, Coridinite, Romulan and who knew what else - and unique enough to trace.

The doctor’s message she left on the desktop. If Harry was very, very lucky, he’d have to deal with that problem when he came home.

Now, endless hours later, she stood, running the shred of soiled fabric through her fingers, unable to see a world that didn’t have him in it.

Suddenly her tricorder, unregarded since she’d seen what the room no longer contained, prodded at her attention with a fluttering beep. Thoughtlessly she pulled it out of her tunic pocket, stared blindly at the data for a few moments before she registered what it was telling her.

Brown eyes snapped up towards the airlock’s closed hatch.

————————————————-

On the bridge, in the midst of battle: “I’m reading an unauthorized de-pressurization on EV 18C,” the operations officer reported.

“No time to deal with it, now,” came the surly reply. “Once we’ve taken the Feddies, we can count heads.”

“Aye to that.” Boyce closed the offending airlock and gave his attention once more to the approaching victory.

—————————————————

Leaning her head against the bulkhead, hand flat on the control panel, Sara Finn listened as, over and over, no one screamed.

Originally Posted 3 September 2007 by Harry Finn


“A few more hits like that and we’re gone Lieutenant!” the security cadet, L’Mek, yelled over to her.

Tatiana’s head whipped back to glare at the cadet, her gaze accusing him as if it was his fault they were in the situation. They couldn’t continue on in the battle against the unknown ship without wiping themselves out in the process. She had no other choice but to surrender if only to save the lives of what few were left.

“We have to surrender,” she said and all heads turned to her. She hadn’t spoken loudly, but they heard her all the same.

Choruses of indignant “Whats?”! and “Whys?!” surrounded her, and she felt herself drown in the disappointment. It was too much for her, she couldn’t take the look of a crew that had been let down.

“Enough with the questioning of my decision!” she yelled as she stood up and paced the length of the bridge, “I don’t want to die, and I’ll be damned if all of your lives are on my head. If something happens to any of you it will be on me. I refuse to live the rest of my life like that. And I refuse to let my pride in battle kill any of us. Let it go, we’re going to open a channel and talk to these lovely people who have fired on us.”

The Belfast’s phasers were fired again. And in response, it took another hit that was worse than the last.

“Power down the phasers!” she ordered shrilly. The last of her control was leaving her, she was slowly morphing back into the young woman she herself had forgotten she was.

No one moved on the bridge, and she found herself feeling as if she was headed for the same place as Telar.

“Why can’t you see that I’m trying to save your lives? This is new for me, I normally don’t care about anyone else, but I do now,” she cried, “Let me save you! If you want I’ll have some cadets bring up phasers if our attackers try to come to the bridge and take us out. Just please…don’t let me be responsible for killing any one of us.”

She looked at the bridge crew, her eyes begging them to understand. It was something no one had seen from her before, begging was just something Tatiana Thorne didn’t do.

“We’re no longer firing, Lieutenant,” the security cadet informed her. The tightness in her chest loosened slightly and she nodded to somehow clear her eyes of the tears that had sprung up. The crew was sticking with her, even in a moment that could screw them all worse than the battle ever could.

“I need to speak to the rest of the crew,” she muttered, and a comlink throughout the ship was opened.

“All hands, this is Tatiana speaking. I want all medical and science personnel to report to Sickbay, and all Engineering and Ops officers not on the bridge to report to Engineering, it’s safe now that the breach has been contained. I’ll give more details later.”

L’Mek tapped his combadge and told three cadets to bring phasers for the bridge crew and to station themselves in and around Sickbay and Engineering.

“Open a channel to the enemy ship,” she called over her shoulder.

“Channel open,” the operations officer called, and Tatiana took a deep breath before beginning,

“This is Tatiana Thorne of the USS Belfast, cease firing…we are surrendering. We’ll be prepared to allow your commanding officer on our bridge in fifteen minutes.”

She sat down again, and brought her head down to rest between the cupping of her hands. Shame marred her features, and she didn’t want anyone to see it.

“This is what I get for "letting people in",” she sneered into the darkness of her hands.

Originally Posted 3 September 2007 by Tatiana Thorne

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