Picking Up The Pieces

.: USS Hawking | Holodeck 2 :.

It had seemed like slow motion once the Hawking had re-pressurized herself. No sooner than the alien technology had been purged, the pitter patter of feet had brought med teams and support personnel from all over the ship. Several of Harry's deputies had come, and even Javier Costala. That was over now. The medics had gone, taking T'Shaini to sickbay. Javier had gone with them. The support people had gone too since there were no fires to put out or anything to do at the moment. Of course in the coming days, they'd need to fix the deck. But that would be then. Now though, Harry, Nathan and Jenny remained. The room was silent save for the sounds of Harry's breathing, and the occasional curse. Jenny was beside him; trying to work out a way to help him. Of course he didn't look interested in that. Not in the slightest. Nathan had slumped back against the bulkhead, lowering himself to a sitting position, knees drawn up and rested his arms on them, peering out over the faux shuttlebay that Hawthorne/Acker had created.

Vanona's body lay where she'd fallen. That would be another letter. Added to Dana Grissom, Ajani Obatu and the others who'd fallen over the past few hours. Add those to the ones he'd written and sent over the past twelve months. Terrah Yates. Samantha Reed. Bianca Fields. Areala Mooran. Joyce Boykin. Monty Vole. The list was longer than he ever thought it'd be. Leroy Gardner. Casey Anders. Jess Hill. The names and faces were as clear to him now as when they'd walked the corridors of the Hawking. Vanona's stern features joined the rest.

"Harry," Jen finally reached up (way up) and grabbed his shoulder, hoping to haul him out of wherever he'd gone. The response was woefully predictable: a shrug, as if he were dislodging a pesky insect and then, when she refused to let go, a flat blue stare in which she could swear she saw the death of Lieutenant Hawthorn. "I'm not leaving you," she told him, though, darned if her voice didn't tremble slightly, giving away her nerves.

"You shouldn't stand too close," he replied, as if she'd said nothing, "my uniform's still doused with thermolyte…"

"You ought to take that to the decon bay." Nathan spoke up, barely above a whisper. "You can't put it in the recycler like that."

"Yeah," Finn didn't move, his eyes fell back to Vanona's body. Someone should take out that knife. He wondered if Edded would ever want it back, after all it had done. His thoughts flashed to the vision of T'Shaini, snarling and burying the dagger deep into Janus' chest.

"I have to…" he began then looked down at Jenny for the first time since the maelstrom of humanity had left the room, since his knee had been dealt with and the cuffs removed and… "you shouldn't be here…" but then, how should she not? Aside from everything else, she was a security officer and part of being in security was dealing with death. And dealing death. That this death had been so closely linked to her, to her father, that didn't… "how are you doing?" he asked, finally.

"Ahhh," Jenny stepped back a hitch, threw a short 'help me' glance at Nate but she wasn't sure he'd caught it. "I'm okay… the docs said the toxin was neutralized and I was cleared for…" she froze as, once more, Harry's eyes went hard. "Oh… I guess you didn't know about…"

"What?" he asked and now he was looking at Nate, too. "What else do I not know about?"

"She got poisoned. Earlier. In T'Shaini's Office." Nathan informed Harry matter of factly, casting a glance at Jenny. She looked mortified. "But it could have happened to ANYONE." He emphasized anyone. "Or at least anyone T'Shaini decided to give Coffee to at that particular time. It had to be Hawthorne. She used the same poison that Sara Laslow tried to get you with."

Not so numb after all, Jen thought as Harry's hand almost crushed her arm, "I'm okay, I'm good, it's all right…" but at the same time, Harry's response brought home the unholy terror of those few minutes, while T'Shaini had carried her to sickbay uttering endless reassurances while Jenny's heart had actually hurt as it raced and raced and she'd been damn sure she was going to die, right then… "Uncle Harry," she laid her hand over his, where it was bruising her, "I'm still here, he didn't get me."

Swallowing, Harry nodded, released his grip and turned away, which just led him straight back to Vanona. "Sir… Jen," he finally got out, "I… could I have… I need five minutes. I'll tag sickbay for… containment," he nodded down to the lieutenant's body, "and wait with her."

Pushing off the deck, Nathan motioned toward the door, indicating to Jenny that they ought to go. She looked like she'd like to have stayed, but followed him out regardless. After they'd gotten into the corridor, Nathan resumed his position on the deck, leaning back against the bulkhead. "So… you were right about Hawthorne." Nathan offered, eager to give Jenny something to be happy about. "Good call."

Joining him on the floor, Jenny frowned, trying to recall who had first suggested the Lieutenant as a suspect then shook it off. Didn't matter, really. Instead she turned towards him, about a thousand questions racing through her mind. The one that fought its way to her voice was, "You've seen a lot of people die, haven't you?"

Names and faces again. Some faces didn't have names. Some names no longer had faces. Nathan had seen his first dead body at age eight, stepping over it to run from a Borg Drone bent on sharing it's affliction with him. That was the last thing he remembered before an ugly pair of black tubes had pierced the tender flesh at the nape of his neck, injecting countless lifetimes of memories, information and transforming him into part of what he was today. "Yeah." He answered simply, his mind playing a compilation of all the dead people he'd seen over the last few years.

"I haven't, yet," she said, "fourth generation Starfleet… all Security and before that, they were cops… so I know the score but, until today… I hadn't…" She tilted her head, one hand reaching out to brush her captain's hair away from his face, "I also hadn't seen anyone do what you did…" At his questioning look she shrugged, "I'd never seen anyone go so far into a bad place… not physically bad but… we could see it, the memories you tapped… it was hard, it seemed hard. But you did it." Her voice warmed and her eyes were bright but she refused to allow tears. She hadn't… she wouldn't cry.

"Well." He began, wiping his brow. "I guess we both deserve to take a break." Though he knew they wouldn't get to that for at least the next few days. Maybe the next week. The Hawking was limping. There was extensive damage to account for, and that didn't include the crew that had been killed or injured. "After things are settled down that is." He finished. "Maybe some… shore leave or something."

"That'd be.." she began but then gave in to the same impulsive nature that had her dropping out of the Academy and fleeing her position/sentence as Nechayev's yeoman and leaned in to Nate, and placing a long, sad, desperate kiss over his own shocked lips. Pulling back just enough to lean her forehead on his, "I can't… I don't know how to talk to you, half the time," she admitted, "Mostly I don't even know what I'm saying around you but I know that, after today… after the poison and this," she sat back, but didn't look at him, "I don't mind dying.. I mean, I don't want to die but I know it happens and I don't mind dying for the Federation or for the Hawking or… for Harry or T'Shaini or… or you.. but," she took a deep breath and the next words rushed out on an exhale, "I really don't want to die before I've actually lived and please don't make me spell that out because you're the only person I've ever… ever.. wanted to… "

Whaa.. the teen thought as her lips made unexpected contact with his own. "So… I have no idea what you mean." He said earnestly. "But.. you could die tommorrow. I could, we all could get blown out of an airlock tommorow, or something." He didn't truly know where he was going, other than trying to make the girl he liked feel better. Never much of a pep talker though. "I mean, if you spend one minute every day worrying about what's going to happen tommorow, sooner or later those minutes add up, and you miss our on a lot of cool shit that you could have been doing otherwise so.. I."

She wants you numbnuts. A little light clicked on, interupting the teen's patched together pep talk. "So… I feel the same way." was all he could think of. "I definitely don't want to die too. before… " why was it, that he could stand in front of a hostile enemy and tell them off without really giving it a lot of thought.. but when a pretty girl who he was totally into decides to throw all the cards on the table so to speak, he suddenly becomes a stuttering clueless schoolboy again?

She'd gone from wishing she could dig a hole straight through the deck to having to choke back the laughter as he finally caught the brick-shaped hint she'd been dropping on his tousled head and then to feeling those tears threaten once more as the surfeit of pure feeling that had bombarded her for the past several hours settled down to roost. His eyes were desperate with the urge to not screw this up and she figured hers were about the same… "When?" she asked, on a giddy breath, moving as far from the death-filled holodeck as her spirit could manage.

"When are we gonna…" He asked incredulously, stopping and starting again. "Soon. As soon as we… Now?"

Her eyes widened at the idea but before she could even consider the concept, fate interrupted in the form of the last medical team to be dispatched… this small group leading the anti-grav lift covered with the unmistakable bulk of a body bag. "Later," she whispered, standing to allow easier passage for the team.

Always at the worst times! He thought as the crew walked around him. Unlike Jenny, he maintained his position. "Not too much later though." He said as she began to walk away. He didn't know if she'd heard him, and couldn't call after her because a burly hand was thrust into his line of sight. Looking up, he saw that the hand belonged to Cay, the ship's short term XO. Flashing a grim smile, he took it.

"Lot to go over." Cay said simply.

"Yeah." Nathan replied, looking past the much larger XO at Jenny's retreating form. "Alot's been happening."

Joint effort with the Girl and her Uncle.
Originally Posted on 03-13-2008 by Nathan Benjamin

USS Hawking
Holodeck 2 - Deck 5

T’Shaini had gone, the kids had gone and now, taken away by a medical crew led by the formidable Druus, Hawthorn, too was gone.

Alone in the room Harry ignored the swelling mountain of responsibilities that waited for him the second he walked out that door. He’d already received reports from Jameson and Jereen on their charges… Kerrin and Scout had made it through. Gran’s check-in had been less welcome… Cadet Hyvoth…

He’d asked for five… it had to have been at least twenty minutes since the request for privacy but he just couldn’t seem to move.

Jenny had been saved, he was thinking, and he’d never even known she’d been in danger. The ship had been saved, through no effort of his own. His own life had been saved… at a cost.

There was always a cost.

He let out a short, painful breath.

Closing his eyes to that eviscerating truth he was bombarded instead by a series of visions, Jenny suffering from the effects of digitalis… Wendy with the blade thrust into her side… Dana Grissom’s body and Alex’ face as he held her… Tenanji…. Obatu and back and back and back to the first Maru and the burning that had been Sara and Seth and… He felt his legs fold, a slight ache in his knee the only memory of the crushing break and then he was on the floor, staring blindly at Hawthorn’s phaser that had, somehow, in all the cleanup, been left behind.

He retrieved the weapon, turned it over and over in his hands as the images turned over and over in his memory.

One image in particular.

”You don’t know who you’re dealing with,” Shaun Ryan Acker had hissed, cocky and spiteful and practically oozing with shock at the fact of his actual arrest. Sitting at the table in the small interrogation room on the Maru he still looked as if it were all some terrible dream and he’d be waking shortly to a great cup of coffee and a plate of eggs, over easy…

“You could tell me who I’m dealing with,” Finn, equally cocky but far less shocked, “then I’d know.”

“Cute,” Acker had slumped back in his chair, “It’ll be interesting to see how long that sense of humor lasts, Harry.”

“I wasn’t joking,” Harry continued to walk the room, not bothering to look at the furious prisoner, “I really do want to know who I’m dealing with. Not just you, obviously, though your ability to slip past over a decade of psych evals is… impressive.” And it was. No one, even in the Bureau of Information, got to lieutenant commander without serious vetting… yet here was Acker, twisted as a Ferengi corkscrew and no one had ever known. Finn let the thought slide by… that was a problem for the head shrinkers. His search was more tangible. “You had to be selling the intel to someone,” he continued, allowing a hint of a taunting smile, “who? Who’s your sugar daddy, Shaun?”

But that hadn’t angered the mole. If anything, he’d been more amused. “You’ll never know,” he said, before leaning forward on the table once more and, making sure that Finn was watching this time, added, “And you’ll never see them coming.”

On the floor of the holodeck, one hand ran over the still-damp patch on his uniform… ”…when the thermolyte ignites, when the flames char your skin and crawl into your mouth and you're waiting for the pain to end…"

But it would never end, would it? Even if he did, right here and now, finished the job Janus had started, would Acker quit? Would anyone who’d ever meant anything to Harry be safe? And beyond that, beyond all of that were the untold deaths the man had caused in his ten year reign of espionage. And beyond that were the as-yet uncountable deaths he would now cause in his new incarnation, with his new associates…

You don’t know who you’re dealing with…

Harry rose, the phaser held down at his side as he walked to the door.

You don’t know who… don’t know… don’t knowknowknow…

The door hissed open to an empty hallway. “I’ll find out," he said, and crossed the threshold.
Originally Posted on 03-14-2008 by Harry Finn

::USS Hawking::

Those who have crossed with direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom. Remember us, if at all, not as lost, violent souls but only as the hollow men. The stuffed men. Javier read to himself from the PADD. Crossed with direct eyes? What does that mean? he thought as he tried to draw meaning from the words. Poetry had never been his strong suit, but the use of it in the hours past had piqued his curiosity. Javier stole a glance at T'Shaini's sleeping form, making sure that she was sleeping peacefully and the rhythm of her breathing was steady. Satisfied that she was still at rest, Javier let his eyes move over to his two other charges. Tehamia was sleeping and Kal-El was working on some random equations on a tricorder Javier had brought with him from Engineering.

His thoughts went back to the conversation he had had with Tehamia while T'Shaini had been in surgery. 'Chief..Ajani, he told me to stay back. I wanted to help him..maybe I could have,' Tehamia had said as tears filled her eyes. 'You were his responsibility, he would have ordered you back, if you had tried to follow,' Javier answered, knowing what his friend would have said. 'You followed orders and are alive because of his instruction, it's not a bad thing..it shows how good an officer Ajani was.' The PADD shifted in his lap and Javier caught it before it could fall to the floor. His eyes returned to words, reading patiently until T'Shaini awoke from her rest.

Some might have questioned Javier's desire to familiarize himself with literature tied to their recent troubles. But he didn't blame T.S. Eliot for their troubles any more than he had blamed the computer worm for nearly killing him with its false information. They were both tools that could be used with different results..but he didn't understand the words as completely as he did the code.

Drifting lightly toward wakefulness T'Shaini reached over to curl into Javier, such a horrible dream… when her hand brushed the cold material of the biobed. That unfamiliar sensation triggered a chain reaction of images…painful, terrifying images. Eyes suddenly wide, her gasp of deep recognition of the horrifying truth jolted her upright. Reaching blindly for something to hold on to…"Javier?"

"I'm here," he said as the PADD clattered to the floor when he jumped out of his chair. Javier stood close to the side of the bed and leaned forward, his arm sliding behind T'Shain, rubbing her back in a comforting way. "You're in sickbay..and it's over." His fingers locked with hers in an instant.

Burying her face in his chest, not knowing if she could say it to his face, T'Shaini's words erupted out of her mouth. "I killed her…" Her voice then dropped to a whisper. "I wanted to."

Holding her gently, carefully even, to avoid irritating her new sutures, Javier spoke: "It's a defense mechanism. When a person's life..or the life of someone they care for is at risk then they act to defend themselves or someone else." It was what his instructors had said in the Corps and was true for how T'Shaini had reacted also from what he could tell. "It's a natural reaction..for humans, Vulcans..anyone in danger." He sighed. "There were persons..situations..I understand," Javier said simply without going into detail.

T'Shaini heard the words he spoke, but could not absorb, suffused with loathing of the act she had committed. "I can still feel it…remnants of overwhelming rage…the feeling of the knife in my hand…plunging into her chest." Her voice broke. "I do not know how to live with that." A shuddering exhale let her lean against him, the gentleness with which he held her signaling to her, far more than words…his acceptance. Realizing how very important that was, she lifted her gaze to see if what she could feel emanating from his body was reflected in his eyes.

"It's always there..that feeling," Javier said softly as his eyes held T'Shaini's, "as time passes it will recede but the memory will bring it back. I think in some ways it is a good thing, it reminds me that life is precious." He wanted to take her up in his arms and hold her and tell her the guilt would pass and everything would be fine. But that's not the way it is. Javier thought, he wanted her to know the truth, that she would always question her actions. "You can live with it. I live with it and you are a much stronger person than I am."

She shook her head. "Not stronger." How could he not know how much strength he possessed? She tried to articulate it, but her eyes filled with tears. As they spilled over her lashes she wiped them away with the back of her hand. So much had changed in those scant few hours, so much more to tell him…warn him. "Something else happened." No matter what she did the tears continued to flow. "Not that it is not obvious at this juncture, but…" What would happen if he was repulsed by her lack of control? She rubbed more tears away. "When it happened, well directly before…I was consumed with an emotion, one I had never experienced, even before. Rage. Hatred. It seems to have burned away, not only what had been constructed on Halcyon…but any semblance of control that I ever had."

"So now your emotions are more human-like?" he asked quietly.

"Less Vulcan…yes." Her head dropped.

Javier lifted her chin up so he could smile at her. "Welcome to my world Counselor." He leaned forward and kissed T'Shaini's lips briefly, before pulling back to quip, "I'm 'less Vulcan' too."

JP by Snookypookums & Cakeybuns
Javier Costala
03-16-2008, 02:57:52 PM
One more. One more block and it would be as tall as the one he had built in the classroom. Before the floor had shook and knocked them down. Before the big blue wall had sprang up out of thin air. Eli chuckled happily and then turned to look towards the door as it swished open. His daddy was home!

Mustapha's eyes rested on Eli and he smiled widely. The engineer walked over to where his son sat and squatted down beside him.

"Blocks!" Eli stated happily and pointed to the tower he had built.

"It's very good son," Mustapha encouraged as he patted the boy's head softly, his fingers running through Eli's soft brown hair. Katie came into the living room from where she had been in the back of their quarters. Her face was drawn with worry. She made her way over to him and Mustapha stood without speaking, catching her up in a tight embrace.

"I was worried.." she started then just hugged her husband in silence. After a few moments she broke free then sat down, beside Eli, with Mustapha. Her fingers stayed entwined with Mustapha's as she encouraged Eli's construction of the block tower.

Eli took the 'B' block and presented it to his father. The B block was the best one..everyone knew that. Mustapha took it and placed it on the top of the tower. "Blocks Mom," Eli said. Katie nodded and smiled. "Blocks Dad."

"Blocks Eli," Mustapha replied. He sighed gratefully, thankful that he had made it back to Katie and Eli.

Featuring: The Ibrahims.
Originally Posted on 03-15-2008 by Javier Costala

::USS Hawking::
::Transporter Room::

“So you’re headed where exactly?”

Tommy, Tatiana and Stephanie stood in the Transporter Room, waiting for their names to be called. There was a bustle in the room as a few people gathered to get their turn to leave the ship.

“Red Sector,” Tatiana began, “Then White, I’ve been feeling like I need to visit there.”

Stephanie leaned forward to look at Tommy on the opposite side of Tatiana. She shot the woman a concern look, and motioned for her to say something, “You’re not hanging with us?”

Tatiana looked at her new friend and said bluntly, “No.”

“What’s your problem?” Stephanie asked sharply.

Tatiana slightly shrugged and began to speak as she scratched the tip of her nose, “I’m tired and I just want to get away from the Hawking. If you guys want to party for hours on end that’s your prerogative, but I’m not feeling it right now. I just want to lie down and sleep for at least eight hours.”

“Okkaaayyy,” Tommy drawled, “But you’ll come bar hop with us when you’re done doing all of that?”

“Sure, it’s a done deal,” Tatiana answered with false excitement, “Well and after I contact my family, I haven’t spoken to them in a while.”

“Maybe they’ll visit or something. With the luck we’re having, it’s possible. But anyway, good, you should come out with us. Oh by the way, if you can’t find a place you should come crash with us. Tommy knew someone that got us a great room,” Stephanie chatted.

“I will, though I doubt I’ll find myself ‘crashing’ with a woman who can’t pick up after herself,” she muttered.

“Ooh, zing,” Tommy said sarcastically at Tatiana’s comment. The two men that were left in the room turned around to glare at the Transporter Technician when she exclaimed, “Score one to Tatiana!”

“Thorne!” Min Lottz called, “You’re up!”

“Bye ladies,” Tatiana said and adjusted the bag strap on her shoulder. She gave a brief wave to them as she situated herself on the transporter pad.

Stephanie and Tommy watched as she dematerialized in a flash of blue. Tommy leaned over after she was gone and asked Stephanie, “Are you sure ‘fun’ is the description you should have used when you described her?”

My Favorite Type of Three-Way
Tatiana Thorne, Stephanie Hall and Tommy Jenkins
Originally Posted on 03-20-2008 by Tatiana Thorne

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