Part III

It's a WQnderful Life~ Part III

Harry had a 'take charge' attitude. I guess it is from running his own establishment aboard a pirate vessel, the engineer thought. The man who had fallen afoul of the Orion Syndicate had made a suggestion that T'Shaini and Javier walk the dog while he cleaned up the mess. Javier moved to the side, bracing himself against the roll of the ship as it maneuvered in its attack formation. He looked at T'Shaini; normally he would have turned down an invitation to spend time in the presence of the Vulcan woman. But he was drawn toward her, mostly because of the link between them but also because of his need to find out more about her sibling and his demise. He was certain that it had been her brother that he had slain and Javier wondered if it was this event that had made T'Shaini what she was.

"I suppose I could leave you to take care of this," Javier admitted to Harry. "Would you like to take a walk?" he asked T'Shaini. The engineer felt sort of silly asking the question during an on-going battle, but neither he nor T'Shaini had anything else to do but stay in their quarters until the battle was over. He was tired of aiding the pirates, and since his survival no longer depended on how well the engines functioned, Javier didn't care if they won the battle or not.

Still cradling her new charge, T'Shaini looked over to Harry, who was already 'doing his job' the shrugged slightly. "What happens when the creature needs to relieve itself?" I cannot refer to it that way. She lifted the dog to her face and addressed it. "Baca." Considering, she lifted her gaze to Javier, she could not imagine what prompted his offer to spend some time with her, however, if she was curious as to why, there was one way to find out. "Yes, I would." Another tremor was felt under their feet. "Where shall we go?"

"We can go anywhere you like..except not into our pasts. That option is no longer available," Javier said, frowning before reaching out to take possession of the dog. "I think he will go where he pleases," he said as the engineer put Baca down on the deck. The canine sniffed around then hiked his leg up and shot a golden stream onto the boot of one of the Orion thugs. The dog trotted over to Javier who petted him and said, "Good dog." Then the engineer picked up Baca and handed him back to the Vulcan. "Where would you like to go?" he asked her.

Oh my. Chagrined that it had not even occurred to her that the walk he was referring to was not around the ship, she paused and considered where she might ask to go. If she were to believe what she had seen, the entire universe was available for her choosing. Overwhelming, so much so that her mind went blank. "I…I…" Hate being at a loss for words. find that I miss greenery."

"Somewhere green, where a dog can run and play," Javier said to himself. He thought for a minute then a ghost of a smile came over his facial features. The ship winked out of existence and they were standing on a grassy common. Around them, other humans were enjoying the sunshine and fair weather by reading, playing or just snoozing on the grass on blankets. A small dog ran up to T'Shaini and barked happily at Baca. The Scottish terrier put his front paws on her leg, standing up so he could bark at Baca as if to say, 'C'mon mate, let's go for a romp.'

"I think he wants to play," Javier said as he reached down to pet the newcomer. The terrier frolicked around as Javier patted him. "I've never been here..well one time I flew over it..but it is as nice as they say it is," he admitted, looking at the woods in the distance and the city which rose up behind them.

Spinning slowly so that she could take in the entire view, T'Shaini marveled at the line of trees framed by the spires or buildings. "What a fascinating juxtaposition." Her attention diverted by the frantic wiggling of the dog in her hands she squatted down to let Baca loose. Her and her new friend began to bark excitedly and run in circles. So mesmerized was she by the contortions of the dogs as they leaped and played she was taken completely unawares as they used her as a backboard for the next series of flips and knocked her to the ground.


Sneaking a look at Javier to see if he had seen her fall, T'Shaini decided it was far more appropriate to her dignity to pretend that she was seated because she meant to be and stretched her legs out in front of her to enjoy the feel of the grass underneath her and warmth of the sun above.

Javier watched Baca run in circles after the other dog, barking happily, almost a completely different dog from the one he had found cowering in the captain's boudoir. For a second he thought of Lia and how much she would have loved holding the wriggly puppy in her arms as it licked her face. The barking of the two dogs brought him back to the present and he realized that T'Shaini had taken a seat on the grass. Unsure if he should join her, Javier loitered around then decided to sit facing the woman. They both stared at each other then looked elsewhere, unsure about conversation.

"I..uh..I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong idea before we went to look for Harry," the engineer stated, trying to break what was becoming an uncomfortable silence. "I wasn't going to..uhm..make you do anything..I just wanted to see my daughter again so I had to re-establish the connection with you," he explained. Javier fiddled with a blade of grass while he spoke.

Breathing deeply, relishing the fragrant odor of the freshly cut grass in the clearing T'Shaini had felt as if the previous day had not even existed. A frown creased her forehead as he brought reality crashing back in on her. She shook her head to dismiss the fog of comfort she felt. "You cannot experience those 'flashes' on your own? With all that you can do?"

"No, the memories I have experienced with Lia when you were there and the ones..the ones where we..those I only see when you and I make contact," Javier explained carefully. "Do you think there's anything to those memories? I mean, is it possible that in another place or time we could have..been together?" Javier's eyes widened, unable to fathom why he had asked her what he did. It was almost as if the question had been pressed out of him.

A slight lift of her shoulder. "I cannot tell, I think it may a fruitless course of inquiry if we are lodged in this time and place." She knew that building up your hopes meant nothing but watching them fall like a house of cards. "I would wish for you that all the memories were true, for then Lia would be alive. But if we cannot connect with them, does it matter to us now?"

"I guess not," Javier replied, "but if there was would mean not being alone anymore." The bright green world seemed to fade into the background as his vision was filled with new images. His hand rested softly on the side of T'Shaini's neck, as they kissed, his head turning slightly as the kiss deepened. He pulled back, breaking the seal of their lips, but stayed close to her face. Catching his breath, Javier exhaled. "That's how much you effect me." She slid her hands over his shoulders and pulled him against her. He felt like a drowning man, unable to get the oxygen he needed to survive as the memories dragged him down. Javier took a deep breath and this helped clear his head of the images. He staggered to his feet and walked away from the woman, afraid that something on his face might betray what he had seen.

Not being alone, an interesting concept…but only a concept to her. She was having trouble sifting through the many different versions of this one man she had seen. People were to be compartmentalized, then dismissed. She watched him walk away lost in his thoughts or memories and it struck her that some were of her. Drawing her knees up under her chin she looked around for Baca. Ahh, over there. She waved at the dog as if it were a human in an attempt to make it return…and was completely ignored. *sigh*

"What if we could connect with them.." Javier said. He turned and looked back at T'Shaini. "What if we could connect with each other?" he said loud enough for people to stare at him. He walked over towards her. "Wouldn't that prove that this isn't real? That the other reality is..where Lia is alive," Javier said excitedly, "and where we…both have something..someone."

A wary look stole across her face. "Where would that leave us? We could prove there is an alternate existence where we are together, Lia is alive and life is happy…but if we cannot touch that existence, become a part of it, then it is nothing but torture." She pulled her hands through her hair. Perhaps it is worth a line of questioning. "What do you propose?"

"Maybe we are on the edge of that reality when we touch. Those fantasies, memories, are trying to wake us," Javier explained. He paused to think about what he had just said, then continued with, "What if it's like we are in a comatose state, where this life seems real but we are being sent messages from the other life to wake up The problem is, something in this life is altering those messages because it doesn't want us to awake."

"And we are but shadows on the cave wall?" T'Shaini mused. "What or who would be altering the messages and how can we prohibit that?"

"I don't know," Javier replied, "But we've never received a complete message, have we?" He knelt down close beside T'Shaini. "We could try to re-establish that connection," the engineer suggested.

"Interesting hypothesis." She looked around and saw couples everywhere, at the moment the two dogs were playing at the foot of a blanket occupied by a young Asian man with his arm around a tall, blond, Amazon. No one would notice. She had stayed so far away from any sort of contact for so long she was almost unsure of how to begin. Her eyes dropped to the ground as she leaned closer to Javier. She paused and bit her lip as she tried to shed the automatic defense system she had locked in place over the years. Keeping her gaze down she tipped her head up until her lips brushed across his.

His lips accepted hers softly, opening slightly so he could softly suck on her bottom lip before massaging her lips with his own. Javier's hands pushed her hair back away from either side of T'Shaini's face as his hands softly cupped her face. The images began to stream into his mind showing him the depth of their connection. The range of emotions he saw and experienced made Javier press closer to T'Shaini. A hammock with the two of them in it, stretched between two palm trees on a lonely beach suddenly pervaded his thoughts. His lips moved over hers wanting more of the images. 'I want you..I want to be with you.' Javier saw himself tell T'Shaini as they lay together. I know you..I met you at a party. Your dress was stunning but we both shared cake and then I kissed you. I know you..

The deck beneath him was cold hard metal not warm grass. The shrill whistles and catcalls brought the engineer back to a harsh reality. Javier pulled away from T'Shaini to stare at the bar patrons from the vantage point of the stage. Thankfully, most of the patrons were those too inebriated to participate in looting the ship. The wolf whistling died down as the ship shuddered. "We've attached an umbilical to the other ship," Javier said.

Confused at the shift and horrified at the landing, T'Shaini pulled back from Javier and hissed. "Why did you do this? Some sort of joke?" A sharp crack followed her hand contacting his face. "I have worked far too hard on my autonomy to take humiliation lightly." In one fluid motion she stood, stepped around him and exited, stage left.

Baca and Scotty looked from Javier to T'Shaini's disappearing back. Javier stroked his face then looked at the two dogs. "Well what are you waiting for…go get her," he said. The two dogs bolted after the woman, barking to remind her that they were on her side.

Originally Posted 4 September 2007 by Javier Costala and T'Shaini

Simon walked onto the Bridge to witness the final moments of the battle, he saw the Captain furiously fight to stay in control of not only herself, but the Bridge as well. He was tempted to step in and render aid to her if it came to it, but he watched her, and saw the potential as she calmed the tense situation down. Sure, he may have been roped back in, pulled, forced, coerced back into the uniform, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t a good judge of character, and right now his opinion was that if they survived this whole ordeal long enough to see Earth again, then Starfleet would gain one helluva Command Officer.

When the crew finally saw the wisdom of her orders and followed them out, he watched her, curious. She may have only been a helm officer not long ago, but it appeared that Starship Command was inside her, and he knew that they would probably be a good team, as long as they could work together more than his former Captain ever did. Stepping forward after her communications with the pirate vessel were closed, he stood next t her and put a steadying hand on her shoulder, just letting her know that he was there. A complete ally “Good work, Captain.” He said softly, so only she would hear. “We may live this through, yet.”

Before waiting for a response, he went to one of the unmanned stations and checked over the systems, wanting a damage report. Ty vole, it wasn’t good. If the pirate vessel decided that it would be much more fun to continue firing, then they’d be in deeper Targ droppings than any Klingon in history. He subconsciously ran one hand over the burn on his other. It would heal, he knew, but it would take time…it always did…

Originally Posted 4 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon

“They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa…”
…………………………………………………………………Dr. Demento

“Move it, you!”

Harry, still kind of jittery, what with the torture and the healing and the being married (married… holy crap!) moved it. There was a small horde (and what would that be… a hordelet?) of very intense-looking people thumping past. He wondered where they were going.

He wondered, leaning back to make way, where he was.

He’d known, briefly… when he’d woken to a panicked-looking Wendy and a Costala gone god, but the knowing had trickled away, sand through the fingers of memory… and now all he understood was that he did not, in any way, belong here.

Wherever ‘here’ was.

The hordelet had passed but still, Harry remained, leaning against the wall and attempting to process. Like any Academy grad, he knew about the mirror universe and, thanks to the science geek talk in the mess (which included way too much theorizing about quantum theory and something to do with strings), also knew that, thus far, no one had been reported to have shared a consciousness with their Doppelganger or witnessed their other self’s death from within. And why, oh why, did he remember that?

I always take the rock.

The other Harry had gone for scissors, thinking this Harry (ie: himself) would go paper, which meant that the other, gone, Harry usually took paper…

He thumped his head back against the wall to reboot.

Square one: where was he?

He had no frigging clue.

Harry casually checked the location of the weapons he’d acquired from… ah, whathisname… funny looking guy… lots of pockets…

… whatever, he checked them. Phaser left pocket, knife under the belt. The grenade he’d dumped in the recycler. It had looked old and dicey and it only takes one unplanned detonation to ruin your whole day.

Feeling relatively armed, it was time to embrace the suck. Pushing off of the wall Finn chose a direction at random. First, learn where he was and who he was supposed to be (and why those freaks in the airlock were trying to gut him, that would be good to know) then, if the universe ran true to form, the how and why would follow - but not before there’d been a great deal of inconvenience and, mostly likely… he ran his hand over the ruination of a shirt he wore… more bleeding.

Originally Posted 4 September 2007 by Harry Finn

In the dream, it had been the Federation that had come to her planet first. A team of anthropologists, scientists and an ambassador. They had first made contact in the outer village, then had been brought to her mother. She had sheltered them in her home while assessing there intentions. Camenze, as her first and only daughter, had been allowed to speak with them, picking up their language quickly, even without the translators. Then, she had befriended once of the scientists, a young Bajoran woman who had suffered for years under cruel oppressors but always saw the good in things, always allowing for kindness. She had been Camenze's mentor.

But that was in the dream.

The first to find her colony were treasure hunters, searching for "lost" colonies that they could exploit for a vid-cast program that was sent all over the galaxy, to anyone with the money to subscribe. They searched for lost colonies since they fell just outside the protection of the prime directive. She clearly remembered the day they thought a fun segment would be teaching the local children the write their names in Federation Standard. She had spent hours write her name, figuring out which letters would suit her best.

"C.A.M.E.N.Z.E." she had told the vid-host.

"Kid, spell it with a K, looks tougher."

That had changed everything.

Kamenze watched the other ship hang there in space. She hated Fed'ers, so self serving, so' better-than-thou'. They had never done anything for her except quote rules. Still, the other captain's voice was echoing in her ears. So much easier just to kill them and take what she wanted. Crew could be so… needy.

She turned to Pev who stood in his usual place. He was one of the few people she trusted to stand behind her.

"Well, what do you think?" She asked over her shoulder.

She did not see it but she felt that she could hear a wicked smile creep over his face….

Originally Posted 4 September 2007 by Camenze Taray

Simon had moved back, now with his hand on the backrest of the centre seat, watching the pirate ship on the main screen. It came ever closer. Slowly. Approaching with caution. Like a shark. A predator. A hunter. He knew the type well. All weapons, all size. It had been a very similar thing that had almost cost him his life what felt like a lifetime ago but was in fact only about half a year. He was getting better at being able to think of it without falling to pieces, but it was still difficult. His last assignment, the one where it had all gone to pieces, was where he had served as Pilot, Chief Helmsman no less. Then an enemy vessel had attacked them. Much like the one he was watching now.

The resulting battle had lasted only a short time. Blindsided by a barrage of weapons fire, he had had no chance to fly the ship away. It had taken moments, but those moments would forever be engrained in his memory. Seeing the Captain dead, the Second Officer next to him. Such a wonderful couple they had been. Looking at his wife desperately attempting to fight back at Tactical. Smoke filling the Bridge. He closed his eyes. Damn, it was too painful now. Pushing the memories aside, he looked back at the pirate vessel, hoping to memorize every line, every curve of it. Memorizing every single contour of her hull. His temper was starting to rise. He could feel it, like a pressure gauge slowly rising inside his head. Soon the pressure would get too much, his temper would rupture and spill a boiling hot fury in every direction.

His temper scared him at times, something he had inherited from his Irish ancestry. It had almost been the cause of him getting kicked out of the Fleet back at the Academy. Oh how much better his life would be now if the Commandant hadn’t listened to his teachers. How much better he would be as a civilian. Shaking his head the smallest fraction, he tried to clear his thoughts. Now was not the time to be thinking about Earth. However appealing those thoughts were, it was important for him to be in the present, the here and now. His muscled tensed as the pirate ship seemed to twitch, or was it him shaking? He watched them closely. Any sign of movement, and his adrenaline would snap. He could feel it. Tight like a fibre ripe stretched near breaking point, quivering slightly.

He didn’t know what they’d do, but he was ready. Hope for the best, expect the worst. That had become his life in recent months, what with this blasted assignment in the Gamma Quadrant. He smiled softly to himself, musing how much like a game of chess it was. Move, counter-move. Guile, deceit. Did they think it was guile or deceit? Did they wonder if it was a trap? He didn’t know. But his mind was already on the tactical strategies they could do. Few and limited were the answer. He glanced down at the Captain again. No reaction on her face, she just seemed to be waiting. He admired her for that. He would never be able to just wait. Sit and do nothing. It was foreign to him. Alien. Completely unknown. He preferred to be doing things, being active. Busy. Anything to take his mind off his life. And he desperately wanted to take his mind off his life.

Originally Posted 4 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon

Once safely in her dressing area T'Shaini sat down with her head in her hands, why would anyone do such things…what was the point. Some sick sort of cat and mouse game where he plants images in her head, makes her dream of a different life then pulls the rug out from underneath in the most humiliating way possible? Rubbing her face with her hands she heard an odd scratching noise at the door, she rose and the door slid open and two small balls of white fluff ran into her room. "No, no, noo, not the new crop." She scrambled after them in a vain attempt to retrieve the prop from her overzealous guests.

After T'Shaini had left, Javier stood to his feet and stated, "That was unnecessary. Why bring us back in that manner..unless we were getting closer to solving your little puzzle." His face smarted from the slap as he gently rubbed the tender skin.

"Little puzzle?" Q said as he appeared on the stage, standing to Javier's right, "My dear Javier, it is a test not a puzzle. Puzzles are what little human brats play with while their parents argue over whether or not their children are being beaten up at school because they like to play the piano more than baseball." The engineer froze and stared at the being. Q chuckled and added, "Perhaps my comparison was a bit too close for comfort, too personal maybe?"

"You've been trying to hinder my progress all along," Javier said in a tone devoid of amusement. "I think this test is more of a game to you than anything else. You take pleasure in asserting rules then bending them whenever the game is about to end. You're a…cheater." The word sounded so pedestrian, after he said it, Javier grimaced.

"Cheat. Charlatan. Swindler. Dulebeki. Nagnachok. Keeeliioopniikaai. All names I have heard before," Q said then sighed as he looked down at the floor of the stage. The being seemed almost remorseful.

"Well, parts of it has been..not too bad..I suppose," Javier divulged, trying to put a good spin on some of the worst moments of his life.

"Excellent. That's the spirit Javier," Q expounded, patting the engineer on the back while propelling him in the direction T'Shaini had disappeared. "Off you go. Finish what you have started."

"Don't you mean what you have started?" the engineer retorted, turning to find that the being known as Q had already taken his leave. "Damn him."

"HEY! If you're not going to dance..GET OFF THE STAGE!" one of the drunks yelled. Javier turned and left, making his way backstage in the direction he had seen T'Shaini leave. "Awww I thought he was going to bust a move," he heard someone say. Not likely. The barking of the dogs alerted Javier to where he would find T'Shaini. Stepping through an open door, a comical sight met his eyes, the Vulcan woman was doing her best to corral the two rambunctious dogs, who ran around with a riding crop in their mouths.

"I guess there's no need to ask who's in charge here," Javier said as he knelt down and whistled to Scotty and Baca. The dogs ran over to him trailing the crop behind. Javier petted the two dogs. "Good dogs," he told them as he petted them. They dropped the crop which he promptly picked up and continued to pet the dogs, then they were off sniffing around the dressing room, exploring the new smells. He held out the crop to T'Shaini, pulling it back as she reached out to take it. "Maybe I should make you promise not to hit me with this before I give it back to you," he told her.

Pushing the hair back from her face as she stood. "Then you had better keep it. What do you want?"

Javier tossed the crop down on one of the tables in the small room. "I wanted to see how you are, and to tell you I didn't do that." He had started to say he wouldn't purposely embarass her then realized he had already done so when she had asked for his aid in finding Harry. "Back there on the stage. I didn't return us here. I was close to finding out the truth and then something..someone pulled us back."

She shook her head in disbelief. "I am supposed to believe you? Am I supposed to believe any of this? I was willing to accept a great deal because of your obvious powers, but now you are telling me there is someone more powerful than you are, simply because you did something that was distasteful? I am grateful for your assistance with Harry, he would be dead without you. But I do not understand why you feel the need to toy with my mind and I can not allow it, please leave."

"Wait. Remember the person who first came into the bar with me? The man in a Fleet admiral's uniform?" Javier asked, trying to stimulate T'Shaini's memory. "That's Q. I don't know how or why, but he's the one who gave me the abilities," he explained, studying T'Shaini's face as he tried to gauge whether she believed him or not. "I..I think..I know it is some type of game to him. But he told me in the bar, that you're the key to all of this. He said you were the answer and that I need to find the question." Javier looked down at the deck and kicked the toe of his boot against the floor. "It may just be a game..but there's something between us, that you can't deny."

T'Shaini raised one eyebrow. "First of all, you were alone that night at the bar…well no, you were talking to a parrot." Wonderful, the first time in who knows how long she had kissed anyone and it was a borderline psychotic. "What could I possibly be a 'key' to? And with all that you can do how can I do anything but assume whatever 'something' that is between us was created by you for whatever game you may be referring to."

"Wouldn't I just have taken you anyway? And to hell with all the talking and trying to explain everything to you," Javier replied, annoyed that she would accuse him of playing a game with her and the memories of Lia. "Parrot? Oh that annoying thing..I sold him to Zarm. I wasn't talking to the bird. I was talking to Q, the man standing right next to me." He began to wonder if the performer had been so caught up in her dance that she hadn't noticed Q.

"There was no one next to you at the bar that night, ask Alex, ask Harry, you were speaking to the parrot. The group of Andorians to your right even moved further away when it was clear you were…completely insane, carrying on a conversation with a bird."

"What? What sort of idiot would converse with a parrot?" Javier asked her. The look on her face was enough to tell him T'Shaini thought he was that sort of idiot. Why can't anyone else see Q he thought then immediately realized, it's another part of his game. He was getting tired of running against wall after wall in Q's stacked deck of a game. "You're as wrong about me as you are about your brother," Javier stated, putting a shot across her bow.

Visibly taken aback, T'Shaini backed away a couple of steps. "What? What has this to do with my brother? How would you know anything of him?"

"What did you say…'he was killed in the line of duty'?" he micmicked her then said, "I don't exactly call being killed in a holosuite program the line of duty."

"How could you know that?" She held her head in her hands. "Stop rooting around inside my head. It is one thing when you are looking for your own memories, quite another to despoil mine."

"I don't have to root around in your memories because your brother is part of my memories too. Only I have different reservations about the memories of a traitor. But perhaps that's where we differ…you think whatever you want according to your own misplaced ideals and I'll just settle with the knowledge that I made the right decision when it came to a traitor," Javier said firmly as he stepped towards T'Shaini. He was growing tired of having to explain himself while dancing around 'sensitive' information. It's classified information..but who cares now..everyone I love is dead, the Section can't use anyone against me. They can kill me. Would that be so bad? I would be with Cat and Lia…

All the color drained out of her. How dare he? Her voice dropped to a low rasp as information that she should never have been privy to began to spill out of her mouth. "Traitor? Traitor to what? To a corrupt admiralty who cared more for funneling money than their own honor? Traitor to the men trafficking in drugs and arms, bartering intelligence and brokering for power at the cost of countless lives? How dare you? He was murdered because 'doing the job' was an honor that he refused to let others sully, and you call him a traitor."

"Your self-righteous, honor-bound brother was a traitor and a coward. Not only did he sell classified information to the Dominion, he also gave them weapons and shield code sequences for some of our starbases. You talk about killing countless lives..well his death saved hundreds. "Your brother was a traitor..he got what traitors usually get..a quick death and a lavish funeral after a tragic accident," he replied, now glowering at the woman. How could anyone be so blind? "And I was glad I was part of the team chosen to eliminate him," the engineer admitted.

"NO, you are wrong, I do not know where you have received your information. Selan was in the process of building a case against Admiral Saltemachia, two men, Sims Al-Kar and Gavin Booth were the front men in the arms and intelligence trafficking." Suddenly the last words he said penetrated. "You were glad you were chosen…." Her body responded without thought, the kick sent him backwards, staggering into the dressing table and knocking the mirror shatteringly aside. Before she could process what she'd done, T'Shaini was on top of the fallen man, hands, elbows, teeth, her weapons…revenge.

He listened to her words like one listened to the drone of elevator music, half-hearing, not caring, he just wanting to expunge himself of her, the memories, of everything. The force of the kick was unexpected and hurt like hell. Before he realized it she was over him and he had his fore-arms to ward off her blows. But he didn't. She would want revenge. He knew was why he had said it..'glad I was part of the team chosen to eliminate him'. It had been so long since Javier was proud of anything he had done for the Section, the words had been difficult to say. But he knew the sort of reaction they would cause. He was tired of living in hell. He was tired of living. Every blow was a penance of its own, every hurt brought him one step closer to redemption.

It began to register that he was not fighting back and this realization brought clarity to her thought again. Fine, that just makes this easier. Reaching down to snap his neck and end this, she tipped his head to ensure that she would be the last thing he saw. As their eyes connected it was as if someone had poured cold water over her body. Scenes flashed, pictures of them together…entwined on a couch, kissing in a jeffries tube, hiding behind a table in a bar fight. Then other, far more intimate images began to play out, with a depth of emotion she did not believe herself to have. Closing her eyes to shut them away only made them more intense.

He realized that her hands and elbows had ceased striking him. Javier felt T'Shaini's hands position themselves for the final coup de grace. His eyes met hers. Do it, do it. he thought, willing her to finish it, to end all of the brokeness. Suddenly her eyes closed and Javier felt her grasp loosen. No, do it. he thought as his hands reached up and grasped hers, pressing them against his skull. A stream of images began even though he fought against them. They were stronger than any of the ones he had experienced but Javier didn't want false memories, he wanted to die.

"They're not real," he told T'Shaini, his fingers pressing against hers. The sound of his voice snapped her eyes open and a veil was torn away from his eyes, he saw T'Shaini and Javier knew who she was. "T'Shaini?" His fingers clasped hers.

She heard her name…it was as if she had been perched between two realities and the sound of her name, spoken by that voice, tipped the balance. Joy flooded her body as her world was returned to her followed by realization of what she had been about to do descended. She scrambled back in horror.

He followed her, grasping her hands in his. "Tell me you recognize me," Javier implored, remembering the awful moments of being on the edge of
memory and not recognizing her but being so very close.

"I…yes, I do." She pulled her hands away. "I was going to kill you…" Unimaginable. She pressed her heel of her hands over her eyes then dragged her hands through her hair.

Fretting, she's fretting, Javier thought in elation, overjoyed not at her worry but that he could read her so easily again. "I wanted you to," he said as he took her hands in his once more. "I didn't want to live in a reality with so much..emptiness." Javier rubbed his thumbs over the back of T'Shaini's hands. "And you weren't the same person…and neither was I" It was very odd, Javier found he had memories of both realities. A whine from under a nearby table caused Javier to look in that direction. The two dogs were huddled beneath the furniture. Baca whined at him again.

Javier whistled softly and the two dogs came over, sniffing at he and T'Shaini before Baca began to lick her feet. I wonder if Camenze knows what a good source of comfort her dog is? Scotty sniffed at Javier then laid down beside him, placing his head on the engineer's leg. "Even the dogs know everything is okay now," he said to the counselor as he pulled her into an embrace.

T'Shaini felt herself relax into the now familiar arms and let her head rest on his shoulder. It was only a moment, but for her, for now, a moment was enough.

Originally Posted 5 September 2007 by Javier Costala and T'Shaini

"Well, what do you think?" She asked over her shoulder.

Pev considered the scene for a moment before replying, and in that moment his previous life played itself out like a grindhouse film. Eager young cadet, he, the pride of Baruut, the planet that even the Klingons had retreated from. Eager young cadet, through the wormhole! Suddenly, invasion! No! Bodies everywhere, the smells of chaos. Sounds like war threaten to overwhelm him and down he goes!

There was so much blood…

Rescue? What rescue? The mighty United Federation of Planets ABANDONED them there. All of them. HIM. They abandoned me…Cut their losses like a wrist. Pev reached into his belt and pulled a syringe from its sterile pouch and jammed it uncermoniously into his thigh. A shot of rum would compliment this nicely, he thought as he fought to focus on the captain's words. She was a good woman, nice lines, a clean form. She smelled fresh, and had yet to aquire the hard look he had seen on so many other spacers that plied the lanes…

Lying in the back alley quick-fix clinic, fading in and out of conciousness. Blink. Who had brought me there? Blink. Never be the same, but here's what I can do…Blink.

Need a stronger dose.


"I think she's ripe for the picking, Captain," replied Pev.

The firefight was brief and spectacular, of course. No surviving Federation ship had much fight left in them, not so long away from the comforts that the UFP had provded. Left to their own devices, the ships had broken down as if warranteed, leaving little more than Right of Salvage and the occasional disgruntled owner, case in point.

“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.”

"Goddamn right you will," said Pev to the screen. "Captain Kamenze will be over to negotiate the terms. And not in fifteen minutes. Five. Any resistance will be met with the death of all aboard. Should you attempt to circumvent our taking of your vessel through traps or dumping files, you will be punished beyond your capacity to reconcile."

"Pev!" said Kamenze from behind. "Let me say something, would you?"

"Sorry Captain," said Pev, his blood humming like power through a conduit.

"You lost," said Kamenze brightly. "We won. We'll be right over. Make sure there's refeshments. End transmission." Kamenze rose from her chair. "Pev, with me. Gather a detail." To the bridge crew she said "We won't be long, but we will be wealthy!" A cheer went up around the bridge as, at last, the ship struck paydirt.

Pev followed obediently, trying to muster the thrill. Let me be, he said to the voices. But blood speaks volumes, and each beat of his heart brought fresh verse. Wrong words. The S'ti'ach shook his head and focused on his CO. It will all crescendo soon…

Originally Posted 5 September 2007 by Pev

“… the game is afoot…”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

As fast and dirty recon’s went, this one had left Finn breathless and in serious need of a shower.

He’d been lucky, sort of, to have found what passed for a brig on the (he now knew) vessel-of-fortune. The luck part being that Darby Saunders was just as talkative in her dungeon mistress incarnation as in his own, pink-infested world. The ‘sort-of’ aspect was her clear desire to acquire more wrong-doers to fill the currently empty (and torch-lit) cells and Finn got the impression that wrong-doing on this ship could be stretched to include breathing out of turn.

But he’d learned a lot. He’d discovered that this Finn was (had been) a barkeep (an alcoholic bartender, now that’s comedy); that the captain of the vessel was named Kamenze (with a ‘K’) and, most importantly, because there’d been a brief communication from the bridge, that Kamenze (with a ‘K’) had just blasted the fight out of a Federation vessel, name of Belfast.

There’d be prisoners aplenty to sate the brig-mistress’ appetite, it seemed.

“Wow,” he’d said, “I’m amazed the ‘Baca was up to it.” He allowed his eyes to travel the frightening length of Saunder’s leather-wrapped form. “This ship’s not exactly right out of spacedock, if you know what I mean.”

Cue close-of-distance and wicked chortle and, knowing Saunders, any Saunders, Finn was willing to bet she practiced in front of a mirror to get just the right level of menace. “Not to worry,” she’d assured with a very un-reassuring stroke along his thigh, “there’ve been some special modifications to the weapons systems. Pev made them, himself,” the hand started to wander… Harry shifted leftwards, before she figured out that really was a phaser in his pocket.

“Weapons modifications,” he’d murmured, “those are always exciting…”

Fingering a particularly stained rip in his shirt… it took every ounce of self-control for Harry to not bolt for the exit then and there… Saunders hummed before answering, “Galor class phaser banks,” she whispered, standing on her toes to reach his ear, “phase pulse emitters,” she breathed, “all pulling power from a dedicated source in engineering…” and then she sighed, falling heavily into Harry’s arms, the hyposyringe she’d been about to use on him clattering to the floor.

Stuffing the phaser back in his pocket, he left Saunders stunned and locked in one of her own cells while he pulled up engineering’s location on the brig’s terminal. In moments, he was in the corridors, again, making for the dark ship’s heart, formulating a plan. Okay, less a plan than an act of sheer desperation masquerading as a plan but time was short and options slim.

Lost in someone else’s life at the end of the universe and nothing to point him home, Harry Finn still had a job to do: protect Starfleet personnel from both internal and external threats.

So, fine, he’d do the job. He may not be a bartender, but Harry figured he could still make a mean Kamikaze.

Originally Posted 5 September 2007 by Harry Finn

Simon heard the return communication from what he assumed could only be the pirate First Officer. His opposite number in all this. He tried to gauge the man up. Get a feel for him, as it were. It was difficult; the man had a very strange voice. So he gave up. Knowing him wasn’t quite necessary it just help him understand those he had to fight better. Moving over to a cabinet on the wall, he extracted a Phasor rifle from it and checked the power supply. Fully charged. He took a spare, just in case. Turning around, he saw the Captain arch an eyebrow at him. Crossing the Bridge, he passed her and said quietly. “I’ll be in the Cargo Bay if you need me. Try not to tip them off?” He didn’t bother waiting for the reply, and instead just stepped into the turbo lift, weapon over his shoulder.

Emerging on Deck 5, he moved to the Security Office. It was a wreck. That was really the only word for it. Console were blank, chairs overturned, cabinets open, instruments strewn across the floor. People running left and right. Simon cast around for someone who could help. Everyone was busy either fixing something, or putting things away. He grabbed the arm of a passing guard, noticing the guy had an Ensign pip on his collar. “Who’s in charge down here?” The blank look he got back made him roll his eyes. “Great, Thanks for volunteering. I need two full security teams armed and ready for a defensive op in 2 minutes. Go.” He released the man’s arm and watched him scurry off into the throng of gold uniforms.

It only took one and a half minutes. Before him were ten people, all armed with either rifles or simple hand phasors and looking curious. “Okay. As you know we have a pirate ship bearing down on us, intent on robbing us of everything we have and then some. Our mission is to set up in the Cargo Bay and hold them off as long as possible. We will hold it. You all understand? We will hold!” He turned on his heel and marched out. The teams followed him, with looks of either fear or grim determination on their faces. Neither did well for his mood, which was already near breaking point.

Upon reaching the cargo hold, he uttered a curse that would have made a Klingon’s hair curl. “Okay, before anything can happen I want all these anti-matter canisters put at the back. The deuterium as well. Put the containers of spare parts and equipment in front. I don’t want anyone shooting them by accident and blowing another hole in the ship.” He stepped away slightly and hit his commbadge. “O’Fallen to Bridge. We’re just setting up in here. Maybe try and catch them in a pincer movement? Have the rest of security come in from behind once we’ve engaged them. That’s the best chance I see of beating them. I’ll keep an open comm. Channel, in case we need anything more. O’Fallen out.”

There was nothing to do now, except wait. Wait for the inevitable battle to come. Wait for the dawn, as it were. He wedged himself down into a crevice between two drums. Looking out, he could see the security teams doing similar things. Good, they were in place. He sighed heavily. Could this be his day? Was it his time to die now? Had his entire life been running up to this point, where he would die in battle? He didn’t think so. Life was about choices. You can choose Starfleet or civvies life. Choose whether you accept the offered date, or not. Choose to either eat breakfast that morning or go hungry. Choose to live or die. Simon chose life. At least he wanted to choose his moment to go, not have it chosen for him. And dieing in a pointless battle because some upstart with an earring, a parrot and called themselves “Captain” wanted to have the supplies they carried was NOT his way of dieing.

He would not lie down and accept it. He would fight. Claw, bite, kick, scream and punch his way out of this situation, so that he could finally have some blasted piece. Simon thought about what lay in his quarters. The PADD he had been suing to write the novel on. It was almost finished when he’d gone to his shift all those hours ago. What felt like an eternity ago it had been now. An eternity too long. He’d get back to it. He felt it. Because he had to show people that he wasn’t just a paranoid Starfleet light Commander. He would show the Admirals that he had depth, and could in fact make it out of the uniform. He thought back to Earth, and sighed mournfully. Would he ever see it again? Would he ever see her?

Originally Posted 6 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon

“It will not do to leave a live dragon out of your plans if you live near one.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Two decks down and amidships from where he’d left a snoozing Saunders in the brig, Harry entered main engineering. It was quiet, now, the battle over and only the standard maintenance crew doing their thing… maintaining. Walking in as if he belonged, Harry did a quick threat ass… two on the catwalk above the warp core, one at the systems monitor, three were on the deck, tossing dice.

Definitely pirates.

He kept moving, keeping it casual, checking the layout, now.

There, just past the core, a separate console with all the earmarks of an add-on, not part of the original design, conduits shooting into the decking. If that weren’t the target, it’d probably still make enough of a mess to inconvenience Kamenze with a K’s plans for the ‘Fleeters.

It wasn’t much, but it was something.

The phaser was concealed in his pocket, the knife, which he’d no wish to use, easily accessible if he got that desperate.

He started towards the objective.


Crap! He looked up at the catwalk and caught sight of, hells, T’thianco. Why did it have to be someone he knew? “What are you doing down here?” the Andorian called.

“Yeah,” another member of the crew, no one Harry recognized, had looked up from the game. “Sara’s off-shift… never came on, in fact…” a knowing leer, “Guess that anniversary celebration wore her out.”


“And in the middle of a damn fight, too… you owe us, Finn!”

Wedding ring…

It was like taking a punch directly to the sternum, forcing the air out of his lungs while his heart stuttered out in protest and there was no time… no time to assimilate… not now, not here and not with what he had come to do so…

“Ahh,” do the job, “yeah, actually, that’s… why I came down.. to… to,” he swallowed, noted that his flustered response was feeding their own assumptions and he’d use it because there was no choice and still, no time. “I wanted to make sure everyone knew they’d be getting a drink on the house, end of shift,” he forced a grin, “to apologize.”

The reaction was all he could have hoped and Finn made his backslapped way past the gamers, closing in on the target. He was almost there, had, in fact, dialed up the phaser in his pocket to the maximum setting, when it all started to go south.

“Attention all hands,” Harry heard Saunders’ voice crackling over the com systems and turned towards the console in question, abandoning stealth.

Time had just run out.

“Civilian crew-member Harry Finn is to be apprehended at once. Consider him armed and dangerous…”

There were precious usable seconds while the men processed what was being said, a millisecond or so more for the disbelief. Harry used that to find an accessible panel and rip it off of the console. Faced with a conglomeration of circuitry, he went the final step and set the phaser to overload…

“Hey… what’s that about?” T’thianco, again, from up on high, “What’d you do to piss off Dom Darby?” Looking downwards, the darkside version of one of the Hawking’s Security compliment caught sight of just what Finn was doing.

“Finn is to be remanded to my custody, alive…”

Well, too bad for you, lady, he thought, ripping out as many circuit boards as possible, making room for the bomb he’d just primed.

“Get him out of there!”

Even as the shouts overlapped and any number of panicked hands reached out, Harry got the phaser well and truly jammed inside the circuitry and knew, from the sounds it was emitting, they’d be too late: too late to stop him; too late to save themselves.

Even as he was hauled violently back, Harry kept his eyes on the target, waiting.

What came next was nothing like what he’d planned. Rather than the bone-rending explosion he’d set in motion, a dancing coruscation of light, almost alive, shivered throughout the instrumentation. The phaser, which should have gone critical by now, should in fact have turned the entire console to slag, taking Harry, his captors and possibly everyone else in the room along with it, shot out of the obtuse machinery to land at his feet, it’s power cells completely drained.

Held fast by two of engineering’s burlier specimens, Harry blinked. “No,” he said… a simple, useless denial.

“Ysssss.” came the response as another aspect of light emerged from the decidedly un-destroyed system and this one, like the finger of some ancient, forgotten god, reached out towards the struggling human and with an almost gentle touch, short-circuited his synapses, sending Finn suddenly and irrevocably into the void, where he was almost sure he heard someone laughing at him.

Satisfied that the ship’s systems were unharmed, Syszzax left the biologicals to their business while he, the ghost in the machine, returned to his own, scintillant pathways until such time as he was needed.

Originally Posted 6 September 2007 by Harry Finn

Auric had always wondered what it was like to experience a prolonged pirate battle in the Brig…or at least, that must of been what the Guard on duty in the Brig thought. After seeing Auric sit down right in front of the forcefield that served as a barrier between him and freedom, and then close his eyes, the lacksidasical man had turned around to the back wall of the room, and began reading status reports off of a console. When a great explosion of sparks rocked the room, the security guard instinctively ducked, and Auric was tossed forward slightly, and past the boundary of the brig…but nothing happened to him. Quick reacting, Auric sprawled out against the bulkhead, and began groaning. Turning around, and nearly shitting himself, the guard, who Auric then saw to be a Crewman, palmed the control to the brig's forcefield, and apparently didn't realize that nothing was there to deactivate.

Bending down, the Crewman said, "Wha…what's wrong?" Auric groaned, and said…"My…my…" Butting in, the Crewman says, "Is it hurt?" Auric coughed, and then said very calmly, "You tell me…" Before the man could even react, Auric had the man by the throat, and he slammed his head against the bulkhead that Auric was leaned against. Standing up straight, Auric picked up the unconscious man, and slammed him down hard over his knee, snapping the man's spine messily, paralyzing him, and surely dooming the man to drown in his own bodily fluids. Stripping the man's uniform off of him, Auric put it on, and left the dying Crewman in his underclothes. Doing his best to make the tight-fitting uniform fit better, Auric bent over to retrieve the man's hand phaser, head out into the Corridor, and down the hall.

After several close calls, and even one outright impersonation session later, Auric found himself outside the Security office for the Brig officers. Looking around, Auric stepped through the door, and peered into the emergency-lit room beyond. Turning around, the only officer that was left assigned to the Brig, a Petty Officer 2nd Class, turned to face Auric. "Crewman! What are you doing here? You're supposed to be…ARGH!" was all that the man managed to get out, before Auric crossed the room in three swift strides, and pounced on the man, much like a tiger jumping onto a small animal to take it down.

Auric punched the man squarely in the face five times before he stopped struggling, and then slammed his head down hard on the decking, in repayment for the shots to the ribs that the man had given him. Standing up, Auric looked around the office, and found what he was looking for. Practically jogging over to the small locker on the floor, Auric kicked it open, and was elated at what he saw inside. Although they had taken his phasers, and assigned them elsewhere, the Security Chief had left the Bowie Knife behind, since it wasn't the kind of weapon that he saw any modern-day officer as needing. Pausing only to strap the knife to his belt, Auric straightened up, and turned to look at the far corner of the room. Striding over to that area, he bent down, and picked up the square of decking that made up the floor of this room. Dropping down into the service tube, a kind of jury-rigged Jeffries tube that was added into these trainer vessels to let more than one Engineering officer crawl abreast to train. Thanking whatever passed for a deity in his brain, Auric began crawling along the tunnel, heading in the direction of the cargo bay.

Originally Posted 6 September 2007 by Auric Telar

Saunder's voice was ringing in her ears. The bar tender? The one with the pretty wife? Well, Saunders would take care if it…in her usual style.

"Five minuets. Good. Pev, with me. Pick two of yours to come with. And four, no, five big security officers. Good looking ones. This female captain will have a harem of guards, let's see how she likes that. Send in our special crew at the same time, different location."

Pev smiles up at her. "Yes, sir." She knew he was watching her as she walked over to a storage locker and removed a long black coat that she kept loaded with toys. She turned around to the face her crew.

"Kids, no mutinies while I'm gone, J'kell? I'm taking the keys with me!" the crew never knew what she meant by that but there was a story told to all new crew about a time when she had left the ship, they had left without her and only gotten about two light years away before blowing up into stardust.

Proof? Not much… but this was her second ship.

Crouching down so only Pev could hear her she took his fuzzy blue face in her hands, rubbing the spot where his jaw hinged with the tip of her index finger. "Would you invite our 'friend' to join us as well? I have a little task for him and I'm sure you have some ideas…thank you, Pevy."

If she had not known better she would have sworn that she heard just a bit of a growling purr.

Originally Posted 6 September 2007 by Camenze Taray

A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone
Man has created death.
…..William Butler Yeats

How much time had passed she couldn’t say, nor did she care. What was time, now, but the measureless beating out of a life gone empty?


From the moment she’d first met him… focused, prickly, practically vibrating with the need to make things right, she’d known he was for her and dammit, she’d made sure he knew it, too. Eventually. Brilliant in the execution of duty Harry Finn may have been but, in matters personal he was … well, he was a bit of a moron.

Unregarded tears fell now, making it hard, so hard, to see. Carelessly wiping the obscuring moisture away, Sara Finn tried to settle herself. She had to get moving, tell the others, figure out what to tell Pev’s people… they’d eventually grock to the missing persons…

“Attention all hands,” the gravelly voice of the captain’s jail-mistress slash mistress grated out of the ship’s com. Sara was prepared to ignore the announcement, it could have nothing to do with…

“Civilian crew-member Harry Finn is to be apprehended at once. Consider him armed and dangerous…” there was something garbled, then “assaulting an officer….”

But… she looked back at the access chamber… the bloody floor, fingered the material in her hand.

“Finn is to be remanded to my custody, alive, for further questioning.”

Sara’s heart leapt at the pronounced irritation evident in Saunder’s voice. He was alive… only Harry could piss someone off that much… and in trouble again (the man had the survival instincts of a depressed lemming) but he was alive, so that meant there was still a chance to make things …

… right?


Sara looked back at the sealed empty airlock and, seeing it, seeing the controls she’d used to void those within, felt herself beginning to drop: a long, dizzying fall down the slick incline of superfluous revenge, sucked further and further from her own humanity by the vacuum of one stone-cold act.

But… he was alive.

When what remained of Sara Finn walked out of the bloody chamber, her eyes were dry.

Originally Posted 6 September 2007 by Harry Finn

Cackling madly, T'maekh dragged the unconcious form of Harry Fin into the medical lab and secured him to a bio-bed with a stasis field designed to disrupt the neural pathways between the "patient's" brain and body. He was put there to wait for his new playmates, the prisoners from the federation scum's pitiful excuse for a ship. Mr. Finn's view of the surrounding area when he finally came to was to an array of barbaric saws, scalpals, and the like, and if he was a bit groggy, it was probably from the strong sedative he had injected into the man's neck when he came across him. Khev retreated into the office to prepare for his experiments, leaving a confused Harry Finn slowly coming to on the table to the sounds of an absolute madman's joyous singing.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by T'Maekh Khev

Five minutes.

They had been given five minutes. It had been nearly thirty seconds since she had sent out the surrender to the enemy vessel. They had been given five minutes instead of her requested fifteen. After, she could rightfully call their captors, bastards. The odd thing was that she found herself falling into an unusual calm. The panic and shame that she had felt earlier had suddenly sparked out, and she sat observing the bridge carefully. The Lieutenant hated the Belfast, but she knew she'd miss it. Well at least as soon as the story picked up when they all came face-to-face with the members of the other ship.

She looked over to where Nate was and listened as he cursed the bridge systems. She caught the word surrender in his mutterings and listened closer. He was questioning why she could surrender to the enemy and not to him. A grin threatened to slide across her face at him. It threatened but her mind won. The grin didn’t happen. She was too far gone in her rapidly changing thoughts.

Her mind floated to the phasers that were on their way up to the bridge. Before, her hands were used to bend the ship to her will, now they would either be to harm the enemy crew or do whatever they asked of her. She was backing slowly into the rapidly closing box of consequences. It was a feeling she had. She knew that her shitty and spur of the moment decision would not lead to something good.

Four minutes.

It was make or break time for most of the bridge crew. Some had fear painted clearly on their faces and others a grim determination to keep up the facade of strength. Both were unnecessary, Tatiana seriously doubted that whoever they were handing themselves over to would spare them due to their fear, or spare them because they admired the bravery some exuded. The regret had not come to her yet, there were some, but of the lesser importance. She regretted not having one last hurrah that consisted of vices she forced herself to not partake in once she came aboard.

Alcohol (only in moderation).
Gambling (only to crush male egos).
Men (only those deemed worthy).

She'd taken everything she saw in her childhood and molded it to fit her. Shaking the first two were the easiest to do…the last…not so much. If she found herself alive after her current predicament, she promised herself that she'd indulge in all three. It was the gift that kept on giving. She would be happy, and in return, everyone else would be too.

Three minutes.

Her mind shifted gears again, and that time called up a memory.

“You know I think my harem idea has merit,” Tatiana blurted out of the blue. She was sitting with Mary along the pond staring down at their reflection. She had left her Uncle’s home for the last time, and wanted to celebrate by reverting back to a tradition both she and Mary created when they were eight.

“Because of the men?” Mary asked, “Why?”

Tatiana rolled her eyes in exasperation,” It’s simple. I like men and men like me. If I own them, they obey me, no questions asked. It is devotion and loyalty all rolled into one sexy package. The Ottoman Empire had it right when they gave their leaders harems. The power in one person’s possession must be intoxicating.”

“You realize they were harems of women?”

“Yes Mare, I realized that. Anyway, I don’t know. I want to know that there’s something out there that can be given to me that’s better than hanging with my friend and the surprising good moments I have with my Uncle Kris.”

“Your posting, and getting Chief Helmswoman there’s your something out there.”

She looked at her friend and grinned,

“Yeah, that’s good. But I can’t have as much fun as I could with men at my beck and call,” she said and wiggled her eyebrows.

“I’m going to miss you, you scandalous slore,” Mary burst out affectionately and threw an arms around Tatiana’s shoulders. Tatiana laughed at the name, Mary hadn’t called her that in years. It was an insult that had first stung, but now was used by the other as special nicknames. She laughed brightly and loudly, then quipped back, “Right back at’cha you prissy prude.”

Two minutes.

She wished she could go back to that day. It was a ridiculous moment in her life, but there was something about remembering being happy and carefree that could make any crazy memory seem like Eden.

The bridge was a myriad of emotions, each person thinking about outcomes and solutions. Tatiana was not one of them, she was a realist. Either they’d die or be forced into something they didn’t want to. Both were shitty outcomes, neither could result in any good solutions for them.

One minute.

The turbolift opened.

“Here’s the phasers!” Cadet Rollins announced and Tatiana watched as most of the bridge crew rushed towards him to grab their phasers before heading back to their stations.

“Tatiana!” Rollins shouted to get her attention. She stood up, turned and caught the phaser he tossed towards her. She sat it in her chair. They would be there soon.

Fifteen seconds.

Rollins left the bridge and all who were behind stations shifted into stances that could be mistaken for working, but hid the lowered weapons in their hands.

“Remember guys,” she reminded, “Stun only. We’re not resorting to killing just yet.”

Time’s up.

She waited for the expected announcement, there was pause. Ten seconds. Fifteen seconds. Thirty seconds. One minute.

“We’re here offering ourselves to them, and they can’t even be on time,” she said to herself with an eyeroll.

“We have individuals materializing!” Chief Operations Officer Lawless announced.

“So the fun begins,” Tatiana muttered as the woman detailed their enemy’s arrival.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Tatiana Thorne

Commander O'Fallen was in position and waiting. His comm channel to the Bridge still open. He was hearing every word that filtered down form there. Of course, he'd set it to one -way, unless he changed it. That was the beauty of his system. He could hear everything that happened up there, but no one could hear anything from the Cargo Bay. He re0checked his rifle for the fourth time. Fully charged and set on stun. “Remember people.” He said to the security guards. “If it moves and isn’t one of us, shoot it. Only on stun, though. We want to kick these guys when they’re winning. More fun that way.” He grinned softly. He wasn’t a cruel person by nature. Quite the opposite in fact, but recent changes in his life had made him more … sadistic in some things. Like kicking pirates when they were down. After all, if they kicked him when he was down, they obviously enjoyed it.

He thought back to his wife again, and the anger boiled slightly. He was so ready. He realised he had been ready for this since that fatal attack had started all those months ago. Waiting for the chance to shoot those bloody pirates straight to hell himself. Not with Starships and torpedoes, but with rifles and hand phasors. The chance to avenge her death himself. No. His mind wheeled on itself. He would not kill. He was a Starfleet Officer, no matter how much he despised it. He wouldn’t kill anyone. His mind grudgingly fell into agreement, but only because he didn’t want to end up in a Starfleet stockade when he got back. Oh no. He had plans. Plans to be a free man. Both in terms of jail sentence and of the uniform. His intention was to get back to Earth alive and with a clear record, so he could finally go home and see the shining star of his life. What would she be now? Three? 4? Had to be around that age. It had been so long since he’d seen her. He didn’t even remember her that clearly, or was it the impending fight clogging his memory?

He just hoped his parents were taking good care of her. He knew they would. It just worried him at times. Not being there to play the role that was his. But then everyone knew that Starfleet had other plans for him. He just wished she could know. Sadly, she was just too damn young to know why Daddy couldn’t be there. It ached him whenever his got letters from Earth – sent via subspace transmission – that said she missed him and wanted him home. Every time he got one, he wanted to just give it up, go AWOL and leave for Earth. Sadly his sense of duty always got in the way and stopped him before he managed to commandeer the shuttle. But not this time. He re-loaded the rifle with a loud, audible hum that died down after only a few moments. This time he would either come out of this and leave the uniform behind, or he’d not come out of it at all. His preferences were on the latter, because he did not want to leave his daughter without a father, and although he was sure that Seamus O’Fallen did the best he could, there was no substitute that could be better than the real thing.

He swore to whoever in the universe that was listening that if he survived, he would return home for his daughter. He swore on his family name, on the blood of his ancestry, and the name of Ireland. And no Irishman would ever take those three things in vain. To do so was almost blasphemy. At least it would be if he was religious. He heard the Captain’s comment through the comm-link. There time was up. Now it would begin. “Remember this people. We are Starfleet. We will protect this ship and her crew with our lives. In a few minutes pirates will come through those doors intent on taking everything they can get their grubby hands on. I say let them come! For no man, woman or other gender entirely will get through this line!” He saw their faces stiffen somewhat; take on a more determined expression. Good, they were holding. That was something.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon

* Bridge, USS Belfast *

The figures shimmered into life, and Tatiana swung her gaze to take them all in. Nine in total, and the moment they arrived they all fanned out. One of the most distinctive, a squat, ugly blue thing with a metal arm and eyepatch, spoke first as he moved.

"Syszzax to Operations." The odd statement was rewarded by a bolt of energy shooting from a device on the thing's side (communicator?). In the blink of an eye, whatever had lept had embedded itself into the forward station next to flight control. The blue creature went on.

"Fan out. Phasers on wide beam. Seal the Jeffries Tubes. Syszzax. Shut down life support shipwide except for the bridge. Disable turbolift."

The reply came through the ship's communications array. It was singular and chilling.


Was it Tatiana's imagination, or could she actually hear the lessening of power throughout the ship she now commanded?

As five muscular and strangely handsome human men fanned out to comply, a huge, hideous behemoth that the crew of the Belfast recognized as a Naausican stepped up to Tatiana and levelled an energy weapon at her chest, then stepped aside with military precision as the young woman came forward. The final member of the party was a human with epicanthic folds to her eyes, who motioned the Belfast's pilot away from the helm and took his place. Apart from the whine of phaser fire soldering the tube latches that continued in the background, the entire affair had taken 11 seconds.

"Hi," said the girl brightly. "I'm Kamenze! If you don't do everything I say your crew will die. Now where's my coffee?"

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Pev

“At last, my right arm is complete, again!”
Sweeney Todd.

Hadn’t he done this dance already? was the first thought that skittered across Harry’s scattered synapses when his eyelids finally lifted to a view straight out of one of his sister’s favorite splatter vids.

He moved to sit up.. only he didn’t. Ah… stasis. Great.

Maybe, he pondered, (cause really, not much else to do at the moment) maybe this really was hell, and he was stuck in some eternally repeating loop of failure followed by blackness followed by… really, really pointy objects being visited upon his person.

From somewhere nearby, he heard someone… singing…

“I feel pretty… oh so pretty…”




Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Harry Finn

"Where is MY PRISONER?!?!" Darby's voice, which was pitched rather high even when calm, threatened to reach the stratopheric heights that only Pev could hear. She pointed at the officer she had sent to retrieve him from engineering. "Where….is….he?"

Stammering a bit, he blurted out. "I was told to remand him into the custody of Dr. Khev." His head snapped back as her whip opened up his cheek.

"And who told you that?"

"Dr. Khev" *crack*

"You know what you should be doing right now?"

"Retrieving prisoner Finn and returning here." He held his breath.

She sauntered up to him and lapped a drop of blood that was running down his face, leaned in and whipsered in his ear. "Now."

Jenson lept for the door as Darby surveyed the room to prepare for her guest.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by T'Shaini

Crap! “Search every canister in the room. Breathing equipment should be here, it was the last to be ordered in.” Simon knew they only had minutes of oxygen still in the room. Unless there had been an unspoken order to take that away as well. He shook his head. Think positive. Think clear. He helped along with the others. One container, nothing. Two, three four…he was starting to get desperate. Of they didn’t find them soon, then they were pretty much done for. Kiss goodbye to any hope of fighting. Can’t fight if you’re suffocated to death. Only a small handful left. Why wasn’t it right? Why left? It seemed like such an odd phrase. Not now Simon! He snapped out of it. Ty vole. He was starting to get light headed due to lack of oxygen. Couldn’t have been that long already, could it? He started to think on how long ago he had heard what he continued to assume was the pirate XO order the life-support off-line. He felt something thrust into his hand and looked down. One of the security guards had given him the breathing equipment.

Placing it over his mouth and nose, he glanced at the others. Curious, the equipment looked like that of the Hirogen. Anyway, first things first. “Powers, check the door, make sure they didn’t lock us in. Barnes, Collins, you’re on plan detail. Figure out exactly how we can get to the Bridge.” He glanced towards the door as he heard it open, weapon half raised. “Okay people. We’re moving out. The odd say that unless others managed to find some way of breathing we’re alone in this.” He headed to the door and looked out. No one. Waving his hand hind him, he headed down the corridor in direction of the Jeffries tube access.

“Sir, they sealed the tubes on the Bridge, how will that help us?” Simon looked behind him and saw Barnes looking confused.

“Because, Ensign, in case we do figure out a plan, I want to be on Deck 2 to implement it. Maybe come up through the floor, or something. But I want to do something!”

Still the guard pressed him. “But Sir, you heard the pirates, they’ll kill everyone unless we do what they say.” He now looked scared, really scared.

Simon paused. “Married?” He got a negative response. “In a relationship?” Positive answer. “Do you want to save her?” Again an affirmative. “Then stop your whining and do something! You think I want to just stay down here and let them tear up the ship!” His voice was cracking. This whole situation was his fault. Why had he suddenly left the Bridge? Was he trying to do Belfast One? ‘He’s a strong tough, Commander, who, when the chips are down, is strong and tough!’ Shaking his head ruefully at the stupidity of himself at times, Simon looked at the people there, they still seemed nervous. “Fine! Stay here if you want. I’m going to get to the Captain, stun those bloody pirates, put them in the Brig and we can all go home as happy campers, clear?” With that, he opened the Jeffries tube, climbed inside and sealed it behind him. Intent on going to Deck 2 and gaining access to the Bridge, someway…somehow.

He only hoped he wouldn’t be breaking into a slaughterhouse. He wouldn’t be able to cope with that. Another Commanding Officer killed. Possible due to his bad decision again. Just like last time. “Helm, get us out of here!” Captain Barrington’s voice echoed inside his head. His tried to shake it off, but the memory would forever haunt him. So many had died that day. So few had survived. Did they all feel as he did? Guilty? Doubtful. Not many of them could share his guilt. For not many of them had been the one who the Captain had trusted to get them out safely. He had failed. Failed to find an escape route before it was too late. Yet Starfleet had thought him a hero. Well, look at the hero now. He thought savagely to himself. Look at the great hero. Crawling through a Jeffries Tube, because he was too rash in leaving the Bridge. He could just abort the plan, go back, find a nice corner to wallow in while the situation went down. But he’d never do that. It wasn’t his way. It was so not his way.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon

The stars are silver notes,
across that sky now.
Sarah Brown Eyes, come lets
… dance.

“Where is he?”

Darby Saunders glanced up from the assembled implements she’d been tallying. “Ah, the Missus…" she jerked her chin at the empty cells, "he’s not here… yet.” Darby moved to prop one hip on the studded desk before continuing, “but my advice to you? Start shopping for a new accessory because this one just tried to blow up engineering.” She eyed the smaller woman, who’s eyes looked a little overbright. Probably high on something. “Helloooo?”

“Where is he?” the same question.

Darby sighed, “There were some management issues and he ended up in sickbay. One of my guys just left to bring him…” and she sighed, the sentence unfinished as she fell to the floor, cracking her mostly-shaved skull on the desk as she passed.

Putting the phaser back in her pocket, Sara left the brig.

"He ended up in sickbay…"

“You will submit yourself for testing…”


Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Harry Finn

Tatiana stood facing the Naausican her hands lifted in surrender at the energy weapon lightly touching her chest. Her hard gaze was focused on the woman who had stepped out from behind the ugly man.

She eyed the woman, her eyes held all that she felt at the moment. Tatiana had reached the next level of emotion. She was pissed off and it didn’t get any better when she saw who led the pirates. It was a woman. And women could be the most difficult to negotiate with. With a man, getting out of their predicament could have been a harrowing and demeaning task, but it could have been done. But no, she had to be the one that fate constantly screwed. She had to be the one to surrender to a ship ran by a woman. And Tatiana knew that in some unwritten law of the universe it was true that all women secretly hated each other.

What really was the icing on the cake was that the bitch had the nerve to ask her for coffee while sentencing the rest of the crew not lucky enough to be on the bridge to an early gave. Tatiana’s chest burned from the fury boiling within her. Her anger was getting the best of her, and she couldn’t keep herself quiet any longer,

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?! Shutting off life support?! Are you f**king insane?!”

The pressure of energy rifle on her chest increased to the point of pain, but she ignored it, and gave the Naauscian a look of disgust, “There are people down there, who have nothing to do with this! I’ll give you anything and everything you want, just restore life support! The damn Chief Engineer is down there, and if you want this ship you’re going to need her and her team to maintain it because I'm just a pilot who doesn't know shit about upkeep when it comes to starships!”

She looked over to Kamenze, and said through clenched teeth while her lifted right hand slightly motioning towards the Naauscian “And will you tell this ugly idiot to move the damned weapon? It’s not like I’m going anywhere,” she paused and shook her head in disbelief at how out of control the situation had gotten, “I can’t really mount a resistance with you trying to kill off everyone. If you wanted someone to kill there are plenty of people in the brig that I wouldn’t be too sad to see go. I assure you, they’re pretty much the lower levels of the male gender. Not worth my or anyone else’s time.”

Kamenze paused as if she was contemplating the question before responding, “The weapon stays, but thanks for your commentary.”

“Well if you want your coffee, you’re going to have to tell Cujo over here to move the damned weapon off my chest so I can get it," Tatiana shot back.

The girl went into the faux contemplation mode and Tatiana’s eyes narrowed. She wanted to kill Kamenze, but it would result in her own death. She wanted out, she wanted to go back home, but in her own twisted sense of loyalty she never let the thought of selling everyone out cross her mind. Even if they managed to bring her a harem…

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Tatiana Thorne

"Don't be stupid," spat Pev as the team finished its sealing of the hatches and stood, fanning out across the bridge and levelling their weapons at the crew, eyes scanning for any untoward movement. "I didn't vent the atmosphere. There's enough breathable air on this ship for the crew to survive for hours, as long as you obey. And you've got plenty of crew just standing around looking to see which way the wind blows. Like this one."

Pev pointed his blaster at a young crewman, speaking loud enough for the whole bridge to hear. "Go to the ready room and get us refreshments, starting with coffee. If you try anything, I will saw both of your legs off just above the knee, using a piece of floor plating that I will cut with one of your phasers. There will be no anesthesia. Do you understand me?"

Terrified, the crewman nodded, looked to his acting captain, and moved quickly across the bridge. Rezz, the Naausican, kept his blaster level at Tatiana's chest.

"Shu-Jin?" asked Pev.

The female with the epicanthic folds nodded from her console.

"Teleporters are offline," she confirmed. "I've encrypted the system. It'll take someone who knows how at least two hours to crack it, and that's without Syszzax electrocuting them first."

Pev looked at Kamenze as Kamenze looked at Tatiana, then blinked.

Deja vu. Movement was the key. Pev felt his throat going dry as he waited for his captain to speak. Nothing's going to happen to her. She's fine.

It's a mess out here. Hell if I know how a simple science mission could turn into havoc the way it has.

Like taking the first trip on an untested coaster, really.

Pev blinked. That was a new voice. Fifth Business.

Pev looked at Kamenze as Kamenze looked at Tatiana.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Pev

He must have been at Deck 2 by now. Kicking a panel loose, he climbed out. Shit, it was getting bloody cold. The air on the deck was really quite uncomfortable. Bearable, but definitely not comfortable. He had felt warmer in the Jeffries tube. Stopping outside his quarters to grab a warm jacket and put it on. Okay, so it would never be able to fight off the cold air, but it was something at east. Thank God he still had the one-way comm channel with the Bridge. Coffee. The woman wanted coffee of all things! It was just…his mind went back to coffee and he sighed sadly. Oh how e could go for a nice warm coffee right now. But that wasn’t his mission, whether he chose to accept it or not. His mission was to gain access to the Bridge. Now where was it?

He knew which panel it was. Squinting heavily, he read the numbers on the ceiling tiles. 1-28-389-A, B, C, D, E! He had found it. Taking his rifle off his back, he set it to the lowest settle possible and pointed it at the panel. Hopefully Engineering hadn’t gotten round to replacing it from the last time it had been damaged. Looking away from the blast, he fired. The panel came loose with an almighty crash. He just hoped that no one had heard it. Looking up, he saw exactly what he had wanted to see. The circuitry that ran underneath the Bridge. Now all he had to do was remove that without either killing himself or the ship, cut through the floor of the deck above, and then he’d be in.

Now if only he had some sort of cutting tool. Oh the simple things were always missing. Oxygen, heat, Engineering Cutting Equipment. He stared at his rifle for a moment. His mind began to race and turn. Twist and bend. Maybe if…he sat down on the Deck and took the power casing off. If he could just tone down the transfer rate from the core to the emitters, it might lessen the dispersal of the beam enough to make it fine enough for cutting. Reaching inside with a finger, he twiddled the dial slightly, and received a shock for his troubles. “Ty vole!” Her muttered darkly. Obviously it wasn’t his day for such things. Trying again, he finally found the correct configuration. Getting up again, he slung the weapon on his back. Jumping, he caught the edges of the hole and used all his strength to lift himself up. Good there was just enough room for him to lie down underneath the conduits.

Lifting his feet up, he managed to slide them into the hole and then drag the rest of his body in. Wriggling around, he got the rifle off his back and studied the conduits for a time, wondering where the best was to start his work. Deciding to leave a somewhat thick one for last, he chose one of the smallest one and pointed the weapon at it. The beam was bright. Very bright, but it worked. He had cut through the first one in no time. He was good at Engineering.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Simon O'Fallon

“Love that is not madness is not love.”
Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Theater of the absurd, his great-aunt Sadie would have called it. At least, Harry, stuck in stasis, drugged into a minor stupor and the subject of a fairly vitriolic discussion, was pretty sure she would have, before laying into the two leads with her cane for overacting.

“I have my orders,” the burly crewman was saying for, oh, the umpteenth time.

“And I have the property,” Khev (Khev… a mad doctor… almost spot on, in Harry’s opinion), was maintaining, while a trail of spittle fell from his frothing lips to the immobile ‘property’ beneath and the sharp and shiny toy bounced from hand to manic hand.

The burly guy was about to state his position, again, when he slumped, suddenly and heavily on top of Harry, who felt the breath get knocked out of him even as a beam of light crossed over and rendered Khev unconscious as well.

Then the dead weight was removed and Harry was assaulted, instead, by the vision of a ghost. But, not a ghost… not this time.

“Sara?” he stared as the face so-long remembered in dreams hovered over him, “you’re alive…”

She shook her head, sadly, “No… I’m not.”

He tried to reach up to her but the stasis field was still activated. “Sara, we have to…”

“They started killing me… a long time ago,” she continued, as if he’d never spoken. “Al-Kar and Booth… the Brotherhood… took so much of me, it was like dying… parts of me did die.”

A hand reached out, brushed over his hair, slid down his cheek and he trembled from the cold of her touch as she spoke, “But it didn’t matter. I didn’t let it matter, because when it ended, what was left of me got to have you and that was enough.

“Until you finished the job for them.”

Harry felt himself pulling away, even though he couldn’t move, “I…”

“Shhh,” she lay a gentle finger over his lips, “I know you didn’t know… couldn’t have known… what it did to me, every time you raced off to be the hero: saving Alex from the flesh dealers or putting yourself in front of a knife for T’Shaini…” her hand traced down, towards the scar on his collarbone from that incident, “Victim after victim, crusade after crusade, each and every time, you cut a little piece of me away,” and it was with something so far past horror it didn’t have a name that he watched her pick up the ancient blade Khev had been holding, only moments ago.

“But today, Harry, today you went too far,” her voice breaking, he saw she wasn’t even looking at him, only at the blade, at herself reflected in the blade, “today you made me think they’d killed you…”

They did but he couldn’t say the words.

“So I killed them,” and now she did look down and Harry saw what she meant because in those eyes, the brown eyes he’d loved, once upon a time, there was no life.

“Because of you, Harry,” she said, “because you were dead I opened the airlock…”

Who knew, he thought, frozen in body and soul, who knew a man could fail in so many ways?

“And that would have been… I could have lived with it… I could, if you were dead but you see, you’re not… you’re alive so now I didn’t just kill two people…. I murdered them and when I did that, the rest of me died.”

He couldn’t take his eyes off of her… even as she leaned over the bed which kept him trapped as sure as an insect in a web and began to cut away what was left of the shirt he wore, her hair brushing his skin like spider's feet over its prey.

“And it’s lonely, being dead,” she was saying, as the material parted beneath the keen keen blade, “Almost as lonely as being married to a crusader…”

The weight of another man’s life pressed on him like stones and breathing was becoming difficult - stopped entirely when the edge of the glittering knife pressed directly over his heart.

“I need you, Harry,” Sara said, “I always have.

“Don’t be afraid,” she assured him, so kind, so soft, “It doesn’t hurt… and then we’ll finally be together…” and kissing him, finally, cut.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Harry Finn

T'Shaini, his T'Shaini, was here with him. Javier hugged her tightly as familiar memories of who they were and what they meant to each other filled his mind. The other memories of the alternate time line were forced aside by the ones from his own reality. With a resounding sense of clarity he knew that Lia was alive and well, living with his parents on Earth. He knew that the little girl he had seen at the piano was his daughter and she loved him with the great big heart that children have, which gives love unconditionally, and no matter what the distance between them was she would always love him.

His mind came back to the woman in his arms. Javier knew what she meant to him and realized that in the void of the alternate universe he couldn't have lived without her. A part of me didn't want to live without her. Javier realized, as he thought about their last few minutes in the alternate reality. There are words that describe this..feeling. But he had used the words before and they had only led to pain. In his mind, she was more than the words. The words were inarticulate and vague. The three words had fallen prey to overuse and selfish desires. I've never told her the words though.

"You know how I feel about you..I mean..I..uh..I." There, among the other memories, was briefest memory of Lt. Pev saying, 'She gets the old engine banging away on all four cylinders.' and Javier's thoughts tripped, rolled down the stairs and collided violently with the plant table on the landing. Trying to shake the memory off, almost like a dog shaking water off its coat, Javier returned to his stuttering. "I mean..if I don't have you..well, my engine wouldn't run quite as well…" NOOOO! "I mean..I."

"He means he loves you, and you love him. There I said it and it only took two seconds," a disgusted Q broke in, appearing out of thin air. "Humans, there are no words for how helpless you are in matters of the heart," the being said with a certain amount of exasperation.

Javier stared at the being then said, "T'Shaini, this is Q."

Oh my… As what Javier was struggling to tell her became clear, T'Shaini felt, yes…felt, a cacophony of reactions crashing over her. Opening her mouth to answer in kind, it simply gaped wider as a man materialized in front of them rolling his eyes at what she had thought to be a private moment. Raising one eyebrow at the newcomer. "You are quite right about the sentiment, rather mistaken in the method of delivery." She turned back to Javier and smiled. "I much preferred the way you were expressing it, we can continue this conversation at a later date I suppose." Ahh, the familiarity of being interrupted. "And I suppose I can no longer doubt the existence of 'Q'"

"Which is her way of saying she no longer thinks you are as cracked as a chamberpot Javier," Q replied as he sized up T'Shaini. "I preferred the you that danced like an Orion slavegirl and scowled like a Klingon ambassador but to each his own."

T'Shaini afforded herself an internal wince as the memories of her separate lives collided. "I find I care little for your preference. Do you have some business with us, or is there nothing playing at the holovid theater?"

"Ah I find that what is transpiring between your crewmates is much more entertaining than the recent holovids," Q responded as Javier stood to his feet then helped T'Shaini up from where they had been sitting on the floor. "Apparently they like the reality I have created much better than their real lives. They are so committed to their roles that they seem to have no hesitation at the idea of killing each other," Q explained, then speaking behind his hand to them, almost of he were telling a secret, said: "I think some of them have been waiting for the chance to kill each other all along. You know, vacant poistion, oh look we need a new Chief of Science sort of thing." The being chuckled amusingly.

"Where is this happening?" Javier asked, immediately realizing that not everyone had regained their true memories. But one instant he was looking at Q and in the next, the being disappeared. "Damn him to Hell! I think he just does that to aggravate me."

"Is he right? Does he know?" At Javier's affirmative nod T'Shaini began to pace the small area. "We need to awaken them before lives," She suddenly recalled the rumblings of battle felt on the ship. "more lives are lost. Where are they? Do you know?"

"They're on the other ship..most of them. The others are still aboard here," Javier said after a few seconds of concentration, he was getting better at using his abilities, they seemed like they were almost a part of him now. They left the dressing room and stepped onto the bridge. There was a yell of shock then time froze in the room as Javier slowed it down to almost a standstill. The pirates in the command center were frozen in place. Almost instinctively, Javier placed his hand on the console next to the captain's chair and all the system's swayed then fell under his command. He had control over all of the ship's systems. There was a slight energy burst then it echoed into the background of the stream of energy signatures.

With merely a thought his command was carried out. "I have locked off all access to the bridge," he told T'Shaini. Again, Javier 'heard' the energy burst, it was like a signal pinging out, searching for something within the confines of the ship's computer. The nature of the signal was puzzling but then so was its point of origination. He powered down all weapons and locked the commands to his touch. "All weapons..even the ones they hid," Javier said with a smile, "are standing by." He opened the communications with the other ship, which the computer told him was the Belfast. The bridge of the Federation ship appeared on the Baca's viewscreen. Javier recognized his shipmates but he was also aware of the tension within the ship's bridge.

=^=Hello Belfast, stand-by for a transmission from the Baca.=^= Javier told the group. He turned to T'Shaini. "Okay Counsellor you have the CONN."

Javier studied the pirates, frozen in place like wax statues, or popsicles, they adorned the Baca's bridge. They reminded him of someone, a couple of someones actually but the frozen someones didn't so much matter as the one they had rescued. Harry. What had happened to the man after he and T'Shaini had left him to his own devices. The thought sent out a tendril of telepathy that searched the ship. Javier found the man in Khev's office. He shivered as he detected a faint life signature. Khev has already been working on him. The life sign jumped and then Harry was sitting at the tactical console on the bridge. The popsicle pirate that had been sitting at the console had switched places with the bartender/security guard.

"Pardon the expression," Javier said to Harry, his voice low so as not to interrupt T'Shaini's conversation with the Belfast, "but you look like shit."

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Javier Costala and T'Shaini

“Pinch Me
Pinch Me
Cos I'm still asleep.
Please God
Tell Me
That I'm still asleep”
Barenaked Ladies

So close to death, again, this time beneath the twin sensations of her warm lips pressing against his and the icy blade chilling his heart, and now Harry Finn embraced the descending consummation.

He could feel the blade, slowly, slowly delving towards its ultimate goal and the kiss deepened in response…

"Pardon the expression, but you look like shit."

Harry practically fell out of the chair he too-suddenly occupied. One hand snapped onto the console he faced and there was a familiarity to it that set up a knocking in his brain while his other hand clutched protectively over his heart, as if to hold that maligned organ in place. Eyes wild, he took in this latest rude awakening… bridge, not Federation, more statues and, again, T’Shaini and Costala, the dynamic duo of hoodoo. It looked like T’Shaini was back in full Wendy mode and in communication with.. ha… Pev and, he guessed, seeing Taray, Kamenze with a K.

Looking to Javier, who had made the quiet and woefully accurate observation, Harry wiped the blood onto his pants. “Yeah,” he agreed, “you’ll want to hide any liquor that might be floating around this boat,” he added, locking down the storm raging within because, surprise, surprise, there was no time.

Addressing the, he now realized, tactical display before him, he jerked a chin at the screen, “I need a sitrep,” the Starfleet officer requested, holding tight to the one thing he could still understand.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by Harry Finn

"Okay Counselor you have the CONN."

T'Shaini's first view of Pev and Camenze was…Startling to say the least. She needed them to connect to their previous lives, but how was she to facilitate that? The connection she had with Javier had been enough to pull them through the miasma of this virtual existence but though she had shared memories with both of them, the physical proximity was lacking. What could possibly be the trigger? "T'Shaini here, I request communication with Captain Taray and Pev. It is going to sound farfetched, but have either of you had visions, flashes, a view of a different life? Look around, look at each other, Pev do you recall a science mission that ended up transporting both of you to a planet in the distant past? Camenze, do you recall a dinosaur?" She struggled to find something that would be visceral enough to bypass the current reality. She could hear a dangerous sounding rumble she thought was being emitted by Pev. How do I equate the intensity of my experience with Javier She leaned forward to focus solely on the St'i'ach. "Pev, what about Tanner…you wanted so badly to rescue her when the Sentinel was damaged by the nebula, you do remember Tanner do you not? She even sent you a message so that we could find them, you will never see her again if you persist in holding on to this facade of a life." No response. All she could do was hope that she had initiated a chain reaction somewhere within them and leave it to unfold. "It would be best, for all concerned, to avoid further bloodshed. Close channels."

The screen going black releasing her, T'Shaini let her head drop down into her hands, after a moments indulgence she lifted back up to ready herself for another round saw that Harry was now stationed at the Tactical station. Surprise. She nodded to Harry and let herself drift closer to Javier letting their presence bolster her resolve.

Originally Posted 7 September 2007 by T'Shaini

::SS Antonio de Silva Baca; Bridge::

At the eye-widened acknowledgment from T'Shaini, Harry's jaw tensed once, briefly. "Wendy," he greeted, before turning back to the cold reason of the pirate vessel's tactical station where there were no emotional tides waiting to drown him, "nice to see you… you," he added, hoping he was, in this at least, correct.

Wendy? Ahh. "Harry…you are aware?" T'Shaini paused and pondered the ramifications of baldly stating what she believed was occurring. Knowing that Javier was there to corroborate the outlandish story she was about to unfold led her to press on. "You seem to be aware that we are not …"

"In Kansas… that is, on the Hawking, anymore?" Harry tried to bite down on the bitterness but it wasn't having any, "Yeah, I got that… sometime back in the Marquis de Sade's fun house…" and had the knowledge driven fully home when she came. Harry pressed his hand over the wound Sara had made… she always goes for the heart. "I got it," he said, again, "But I don't know w… how."

"Wendy? Kansas? Marquis de who?" the engineer repeated, not quite knowing what to make of the explanations. The bartender…security guy spoke in riddles. Niiice. I brought a lunatic to the bridge. Like the ship didn't have enough of those to begin with. There was a nasty wound on the man's chest, possibly the cause of his ravings. He's not crazy, just going into shock. Javier realized as he stretched out his hand and touched Harry's arm, sealing the wound with a thought as the skin regrew to cover the damaged tissue. "No more rambling," he said, "relax now."

Somewhere, in some esoteric tract on dealing with mad dogs, there was most certainly some helpful advice on touching them that read, "Don't."

Even as the skin was closing over the wound she’d made… even as Costala was attempting to soothe the rage that was beginning to boil, Harry was up, twisting the hand of the other man and pushing until they had both fallen to the floor, with Finn’s elbow placed firmly in Javier’s throat. “You did this, didn’t you… you… sick… freak! You did this… why?“

"I thought you might not want to…bleed to death?" Javier replied, thinking it odd that Harry would ask him why he had chosen to help him.

"Harry!" T'Shaini ran over to pull Harry back, wrapping her arms around him to control his rage fueled strength. She tightened her grip until she felt the struggling begin to subside. "Harry, Javier did not do this, there is some being called Q who seems to be creating the situation." She felt him begin to tense again. Keeping her voice gentle as a counterpoint to the force she was using to confine him. "I do not believe we can make him show himself so I have to ask for your faith."

Harry used T'Shaini's strength as an impetus to jump to his feet and get away. "Q…" he said, pacing to the far side of the bridge, dodging frozen crew as he did so, "Why? Why does he care enough about us to…" he stopped, then, not quite able to continue.

*CRRROCH* Javier cleared his throat, trying to get the awful feeling of having an elbow against his windpipe to go away. He coughed then decided to stay where he was on the floor. Perhaps if I stay here, the next time the crazy security guy jumps me we can just get the crash to the floor out of the way early..I liked him much better as a bartender, he was alot calmer. "I don't think he cares about anyone in particular, I think he just sees it as entertaining," he called from the floor.

"Yeah, it's been a real laugh riot," Harry responded, then winced when he realized how rough he'd been with Javier. "Crap… sorry…"

Crossing over to Javier to offer him her hand. "You said earlier that it was some sort of a game or a test, do we need to come to some sort of conclusion to return to our own reality?"

"It's okay, I've been treated worse," Javier said as he took T'Shaini's hand and stood up quickly. "I don't know what he expects us to do. For me, he said you were the key," he told T'Shaini, "which is one of the reasons why I took every opportunity to try and speak to you privately. Maybe in his own sad, twisted way he wants us to figure out who we are and what we are to each other. Every time I try to get some answers from him, he disappears." Javier frowned then said, "He's the one I was talking to in your bar..uh the bar that the other you owned..or the bar that you owned but not as yourself.."

"Priceless isn't he," a familiar voice said from the direction of the viewscreen. Q wore his usual StarFleet admiral's uniform. "Javier, how could I pick any of the other crew to represent me. None of them are able to turn a phrase quite like you," Q quipped. The being smiled pleasantly and said, "So the three of you have solved the puzzle. Why are the others still deliberating? I doubt it has anything to do with intelligence, otherwise Javier would still be banging two rocks together in an effort to make fire."

If it were, as T'Shaini had said, that they needed to come to some conclusion, all Harry had to offer was that he was a walking magnet for disaster and he didn't need any omnipotent dungeon master to tell him that. He'd been about to say so when the author of all their woes appeared and, yeah he was omniscient, too but there was something… something so knowing in his voice, in the glance he barely flicked over Harry, that he started to wonder if he had, in fact, solved the puzzle at all. Romeo and Juliet, there, had come to knowing through each other. Harry had only come to himself through pain… through a kind of death.

T'Shaini raised one eyebrow. "Charming. So the endgame is the revelation of ourselves. And each revelation is brought about by something so important, so visceral…" She glanced at Javier before continuing. "that the illusion can no longer hold under the weight of it. However, since the three of us are still here, I would assume that this is an all or nothing situation. We must assist the rest of the crew to themselves or…" She was afraid to ask, but it was far better to be armed with knowledge than continue on in confusion. "we will be trapped here?"

"If that's the case then you should just finish job you started," Harry spat out, "You almost killed me twice, already… and you used her… you brought her back for what? So she could go mad? Are you really that bored? Hey, the universe just isn't doing it for me the way it used to, let's go screw with some poor schmucks' heads… that'll be fun for a couple of days…"

"I believe the phrase, 'you don't really know what you've got until it's gone' best describes the lesson I am trying to teach you here," Q related, "Of course in your case Harry it could be 'you don't really know what you've got until she comes back and tries to kill you." The being switched his attention to Javier. "Take Javier here for instance, prior to my test he was moaning about his daughter and not seeing his daughter and on and on. Now he's perfectly content to know that she's alive and well."

"After going through hell!" Javier yelled at Q. " almost made me believe Lia was dead."

"Which is completely irrelevant now because you and the Vulcan temptress came to the conclusion it was all a figment of my imagination," Q replied with a smirk. Turning to T'Shaini, Q said, "Those who do not learn from history, alternate history in this case, are doomed to repeat it, over and over again. How many times will it take the crew of the Hawking to realize they are in a fictional reality?" With a flash of light, Q vanished from the bridge.

"Why will he not refer to me by my name?" T'Shaini mused aloud. "Well, not that we had an abundance of time before but his warning seems to make it clear that we must expedite the process or else be trapped into an endless loop of fictional lives."

Harry looked at Costala, who looked back at him.

"**** that," Javier said vehemently, "I've had enough of this bullshit."

Harry grinned, though there really wasn't much humor in the expression, "What he said."

Originally Posted 8 September 2007 by Javier Costala, T'Shaini, and Harry

"T'Shaini here, I request communication with Captain Taray and Pev. It is going to sound far fetched, but have either of you had visions, flashes, a view of a different life? Look around, look at each other, Pev do you recall a science mission that ended up transporting both of you to a planet in the distant past? Camenze, do you recall a dinosaur?"

"A What?!?" said Kamenze from her now comfortable spot in the captain's chair. "Is that…the bar dancer? For the love of all things holy! I'm taking over a ship here!" She heard the voice continue, talking to Pev. While she was listening she thought she heard another sound, or possibly imagined it, coming for a few decks below them. When the voice of the bar wench had stopped she looked to her companion.


Her security chief shook his head as if clearing a thought. "Captain?"

She stared at the other captain, though speaking to Pev. "What's that gas…you know, the one that if a phaser or Federation weapon of any kind is fired will blow up the air in that space…that one that doesn't really hurt people to breath, just makes them kind'a sleepy?"


'Oh, yes, of course. Do we still have some that we lifted off the Kildarions?"

"Yes, sir. And, coincidentally, I brought some over."

"How lovely! Would you ask Shu-Jin to flood all levels with it, keeping clear only areas with our crew?"

A laughing growl was her only response. She continued to look at the captain in front of her.

"I have a feeling my crew are much better at hand to hand combat than your little cadets here! So, you are the captain?" She had no idea why she asked the question, it just came to her, "Well, good. You seem like someone we can reason with. Truthfully, I'm a nice person. I really don't want to kill your people, unlike some of my crew," She saw the Naausican 'smile', showing all his teeth to the other captain. "but we do need certain things. Pev can tell you what we are looking for. As for me, I simply offer this. You have a choice, meet those needs… or don't.
Live….or don't. Up to you."

Kamenze looked around the bridge, rubbing her hand together. "Now, where is that cute coffee boy?"

Originally Posted 10 September 2007 by Camenze Taray


Bridge, USS Belfast

16 years old when I went to the war,
To fight for a land fit for heroes
God on my side, and a gun in my hand,
Chasing my days down to zero
And I marched and I fought and I bled and I died,
And I never did get any older
But I knew at the time that a year in the line,
Is a long enough life for a soldier.

Pev glared at the viewscreen with a combination of anger and confusion. How had a dancer been able to take control of the bridge? And what was this about visions? Visions? Voices weren't visions. They told him what he needed to know, like the fact that there were still crewmen aboard the ship that refused to surrender. They would be killed, Pev knew. Ha! That was a vision! He wondered if that's what the Vulcan meant.

He opened his mouth to yell at her, but the captain responded first, and then someone cut the comm line.

We all volunteered, and we wrote down our names,
And we added two years to our ages
Eager for life and ahead of the game,
Ready for history's pages
And we brawled and we fought and we whored 'til we stood
Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder,
A thirst for the Hun, we were food for the gun,
And that's what you are when you're soldiers.

The S'ti'ach's metal arm flexed angrily. Remember what happened to Terrah Yates. She died and was resurrected. She died and died again. How many times does someone have to die before no one misses them anymore?

They needed an example, Pev decided, as the captain called for her refreshments. Surely no one would fault him for making an example of someone. Just to prove their point. Just to prove that no one would miss them. Fire supression down! Where was Vanessa? Intruder alert, hull breach on deck ten! Pev balled his lower right hand into a fist, screwed his eyes shut, and punched himself in the mouth as hard as he could, and with the metallic claws of his robotic arm dug into the flesh of his neck and pulled, leaving three jaggedly symmetrical lines of blood which began to slowly creep into his jumpsuit. Are we clear?

I heard my friend cry, and he sank to his knees,
Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother
And I fell by his side, and that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other

Opening his eyes again against the starfield behind his vision, Pev levelled his blaster at the woman, Tatiana. First her, then someone else. Then the Chief and Kal. Why didn't they just surrender? Why did they have to force their hand?

And I lay in the mud and the guts and the blood,
And I wept as his body grew colder
And I called for my mother and she never came,
Though it wasn't my fault and I wasn't to blame,
The day not half over and ten thousand slain,
And now there's nobody remembers our names,
And that's how it is for a soldier.

Impact in five…four…three…STOP SINGING!


Pev bared his fangs. "One."

The world exploded.

"1916" lyrics by Lemmy Kilmister

Originally Posted 10 September at 2007 by Pev, T'Shaini, Javier, and Harry


He reappeared on the deck of the Silverback. "—Damn it!" he shouted, turning around. He ran towards the Captain's chair but stopped short. Wrong.

"What have you done with the captain?" he demanded, facing the Vulcan and the Human. Realizing he was holding a blaster this time (this time) he aimed it at the female.

"Pev," T'Shaini stood her ground despite every instinct that told her to run. "Camenze is still on the Bridge of the Belfast. We needed to talk to you."

"Get off the bridge or I'll space you both. I'll shoot you. I'll take out your eyes." Pev's head was spinning, and he tried to focus on the blood that remained in his mouth. "How did I get here?"

"I brought you here Commander. And as for shooting us, I've rendered your phaser inoperable..and you're wounded and drugged up to the me, eyeball," Javier replied as he looked at the sad state of the little XO. Even his soft blue fur looked tattered and matted giving Pev the appearance of a sleep toy done wrong. "You're no use to us full of pain-killers," Javier concluded.

"Yes," replied Pev wearily, dropping the blaster to the deck plating. "I need the doctor. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Kamenze. I just need to lie down. Harry. Help me." Pev staggered in the direction of the turbolift, looking at the bartender over his shoulder. As Harry approached, Pev leaned wearily against the man's leg. Good old Harry, thought the S'ti'ach. If you can't trust your bartender, who can you trust? "Tell Kamenze I'm sorry," said Pev. "Tell her I'll see her later."

The turbolift doors closed with a hiss, and Pev signalled for it to take them to Deck 4. The S'ti'ach's breathing was harsh and shallow in the close confines.

"Harry, what's going on with everyone? Why is the Vulcan on the bridge? What's all this about visions? Why can't I remember?"

From the moment Pev had laid eyes on him, Harry had felt the pushing sensation of time running too fast for him to keep up. Now, in the narrow confines of the elevator, he found himself rushing to an explanation that he could only pray would have an effect.

"Fast and dirty? There's some super-all-powerful puppetmaster name of Q.. okay, wait.. first, you aren't a pirate and in reality you have all your parts and you're the XO of the USS Hawking out of Megiddo Station in the Gamma Quadrant and you have a passion for porn, poetry and fine-looking women who put out like broken replicators… well, right, that last might be true for all of us but, anyway.." Yeah, this was way harder than he'd thought it would be. "Q… Q is a freak omniscient being who took the entire crew of the Hawking and slapped us in this nightmare galaxy with new lives and false memories and… missing limbs… so we could all learn a valuable lesson…" he peered at his superior officer carefully, to see if he'd managed to ring any bells, shake any memories loose, if the arm were growing back…

"So wait. This…" he motioned around the turbolift as it came to a halt. "This is all illusion? A dream, cooked up by some kind of deity?"

Harry shrugged. "Stranger things have happened."

Pev and Finn stepped from the lift and began walking down the corridor. "I'll say." Ask him. I dare you. "Say Harry, you haven't by any chance seen ToQ, have you?" Pev's voice sounded tired but hopeful. He paused in front of an airlock.

At the name Harry's step faltered. "Ah… Pev… look, for starters, ToQ isn't part of our real life…"

"Right. Okay. Okay, so then…you haven't seen him."

"No, didn't say that," jaw clenched, Harry went ahead, "ToQ… after spending a merry day cutting me to ribbons with his buddies Eddas and Ren ended up…" he stopped for a moment, because false life or not it was still too real for any kind of comfort, "Eddas ended up with his own damn knife in his neck and… and the others… I left them in the airlock…"

Pev nodded. "I know how it is, Harry."

Harry continued, "I thought—"

Pev sank to his knees. "Harry…" The barkeep dropped next to the S'ti'ach, moving to pick him back up.

Pev sighed. "They worked for me."

Lightning-fast, Pev's metal hand shot out and grabbed Harry Finn by the throat. "Pev!" he gasped, trying to struggle to his feet. The S'ti'ach latched on with his other five limbs and pulled, but it was the metal claw that came away first, along with a sizable portion of Harry Finn's throat.

If you can't trust your bartender…

Pev lept clear as the corpse hit the deck. Panting now, he quickly wiped his claw on the back of the man's clothing, opened the airlock hatch, and slowly dragged the body behind him. Sitting the dead man up carefully against the space-side door, Pev a spat gobbet of blood onto the lifeless face and staggered back out, closing the hatch behind him and setting the timer for 30 seconds.

He slumped tiredly to the floor by the hatchway and counted backwards, losing track of the numbers around 18, thinking instead of a wooden horse and a woman in red and such a great height to be falling from.

There must be something inside…

Originally Posted 10 September 2007 by Pev, Harry, Javier, and T'Shaini

He watched the XO and the security officer exit the bridge with a mixture of concern and relief on his face. The engineer knew that the security officer could take care of the broken Sti'ach. One down, five or six to go. I should heal him but who knows how long we have until Q restarts this nightmare. Right now his comfort will have to take a back-seat, Javier thought as he turned back to the counsellor. "Well that's Commander Pev convinced; maybe we should try the others once more? If it takes pulling them off the ship one at a time and bringing them back here, maybe we should stick to that plan?"

T'Shaini found she had difficultly pulling her gaze from the retreating pair and focusing on the question. "Yes, I believe you are correct. I have more personal knowledge of Camenze than of anyone else there, perhaps we should attempt her next?"

"I think so," Javier said, "since she is the captain of this vessel the pirates will listen to her. She might be a good ally to have until we can convince everyone else. But one thing bothers me..if we take Pev and Camenze from the Belfast, what's to stop the other pirates from murdering the rest of the crew..our friends."

"Ahh, divide and conquer…" She smiled at Javier. "perhaps you can contact Nathan, in whatever incarnation, while you are there. Having him to assist on the Belfast would be invaluable." She looked around at the still life of pirates. "They will stay in stasis without your attendance?"

"Yes, they will stay as they are..but to make you feel more at ease," Javier paused, thought for a second, then sighed as the frozen pirates blinked out of existence. In their place were two white balls of fluff, who raced over to Javier and licked at his hand as he tried to pet them. "Baca, Scotty, you are to keep T'Shaini safe while I am away," he told them. He crossed over to the Vulcan woman, without pausing he embraced her. "I'll only be a few minutes. I sent the pirates to a nice comfy cargobay. If you need me, just call. I'm leaving the comm channel open before I go," he told T'Shaini. Before she could reply he kissed her then skipped over to the console and opened the channel to the Belfast. "Be back in a sec," Javier said with a shy grin and disappeared in a flash of light. I missed being close to her, he thought, I missed it a whole lot.

Her hand pressed over her heart and she let let out a breath she had been unaware of holding. She knelt down to greet the dogs that had tumbled back across the room to her and whispered as if it were a secret just for them. "He is back."

Originally Posted 10 September 2007 by T'Shaini and Javier Costala

"Well, it's rather easy." Continued Kamenze as she sipped the coffee that had been given to her by the hansom, young ensign. She looked over to him and wondered if she could teach him a thing or two. Probably, yes. She took a moment to look into her mug, wondering again what had happened to Pev but not wanting to tip her hand that anything was out of the ordinary. No one else on the bridge had seemed to see or hear the message on the vid-screen. She shook the thought away and got back to the business at hand. "I'm currently transporting anything of value back to my ship and then we'll leave you all here. Well, minus a warp core, but you should be fine….mostly, probably fine."

She swung her legs down to the floor and looked at the pretty captain in front of her. "Pleasure doing business with you! Oh, and you might want to tell that over-zealous young man with the phaser rifle a deck below us to calm down, we picked him up on our scans, and we're already gone! If he continues he'll be blowing holes in his own ship for no good reason!"

As her team started to assemble back in the center of the room she turned back to the Captain, putting her hand on Tatiana shoulder. "You know, I really think we could have been friends under different circumstances. If we meet again let's…oh I don't know…share some coffee and chat about the difficulties of being captains? Oh, and I have a holodeck program you might like…'The Lady Sultan of Baltleel.' I think you might enjoy it! I'll look forward to it! Bye!"

And with that the team shimmered out of existence.
But, they did not rematerialized on the bridge but down in the brig.

"SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!!!" Roared Kamenze as soon as her vocal cords were back in her body. "I had a lot more to do over there and suddenly my own bridge is taken over by… servant-staff-people and my Chief of Security disappears before my eyes with only a whiff of sulfur and a 'Banff' noise to be heard! WERE THE HELL IS MY PEV!"

"According to the censors he was transported back to the ship, sir."

"Fine…fine…good. Then get me that dancing Wench! I'll be in my quarters!"
And with that Kamenze stormed out of the brig.

Originally Posted 11 September 2007 By Camenze Taray

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