This section of the story features the following NPCs:


::USS Hawking::
::First Officer’s Quarters::

"Make it a double."

“Ohh, you don’t want to do that…”

Harry, taking the whiskey as soon as it appeared, raised it in a toast, “I’m pretty sure I do. I mean, once the hallucinations get to this level…”

The self-professed Doctor shoved his hands in his pockets, “Now that just hurts… I can’t even recall the last time someone called me an hallucination…”

“Of course you can’t,” Finn started to bring the glass to his lips, “because you're a hallucination… you just showed up in my head… HEY!” that last was in response to the burst of visceral light which the Doctor had shot out of a slender silver gadget he’d produced from one of his pockets. The glass shattered, the whiskey splattered and Harry just spluttered. “What the hell?”

“You really… really don’t want to take that drink.” Not smiling anymore.

Harry, reeking with temptation, replicated though it be, glared at the suddenly serious intruder, “You don’t know anything about me, or what I want.”

“Of course I do… I’m the Doctor…”

“No you’re not.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The Doctor is older… and he always wears a scarf and…”

This Doctor rolled his eyes and did a small spin in place, “See? See? That’s always been the problem with the 24th century… no one remembered the good stuff…”

“Ah HAH!” Harry strode up to the offended fake, “I remembered that Doctor Who was an older guy with a scarf because some of the old vids survived the wars which means the Doctor is a character in an old Earth television series, which means you are not only a figment of my imagination, you’re a fictitious figment…”

“AH HAH!” a finger was raised in the encroaching face of ire, “If what you say is true and I’m only a fictitious figment of frivolity,” there was a brief pause during which he untangled his tongue, “how would you have known to imagine me in this incarnation instead of the older fella with the bleeding scarf?”

Harry looked up from the far from imposing finger, “What?”

“What, what?”

“What… what… what, what was that argument? Why am I even participating in it? Why am I standing here covered in cheap whiskey when I could be drinking it?” Harry turned, intending to walk away when a surprisingly firm grip landed on his bicep. “You’ll want to remove that hand,” he said calmly.

“I’m sure I do but, listen… I really did come here to see you. I need to show you something… somethings, really… and you… need… to see them. I promise you, I promise, if you still want that drink so desperately once we’re back then,” the Doctor dropped the restraining hand and shrugged, “I’ll set you up with a case of uisce beatha so strong that they’ll never be able to bring you back.”

The older-seeming man turned, slowly, “And are you a figment of your word?”

A corner of the smile returned. “Today I am.”

“Fine.” After all, when all you really want is an escape, why not take a shortcut through the mouth of madness? Harry strode past the suited nuisance and into the call box, not even sparing a glance for the disproportionate space within, “Let’s get this over with. Just where, relatively, in time and space are we going, anyway?”

The Doctor’s eyes widened, “Just how many of those old vids did you watch?”

“I thought you knew all about me…”

“Just the big stuff…” the comment was cut off as the door closed and once again the TARDIS set to with it’s regulated thrumming. Moments later, all that remained was the broken glass and a smattering of undrunk whiskey, filling the room with the sour scent of resignation.

Originally Posted 12/10/08 by Harry Finn

"Excuse me,"

Emily turned to face an old, grey haired, round faced smiling old man. He waddled up to her, glancing down the corridor as he walked. One glance to the left and one to the right.

"Can I help you?" she asked, her gaze automatically following his as he looked left and right, "Are you lost."

"No, not lost. It'd be rather hard to get lost on a ship like this." he smiled.

"You'd be surprised." she said with a smirk, "It's nothing to be ashamed of, it happens all the time. Where were you headed? "

"I dont see how.," he seemed to ignore the last part of her sentense, "This ship is like a boat. There's only so far you can go and it's not as if you can walk out. So to get lost would be rather hard as you're always close enough to where you want to go." he smiled and gave a nod, "Camael."

"Camel?" Emily raised an eyebrow, "No, I don't believe we have any on board but you can program one into the holo…"

"No no," he chuckled, "Not Camel. Camael. It's my name."

"Oh, sorry." she replied, "Now, what was it you had stopped me for?"

"Right to the point. That is dedicated. Are you in a hurry?" he asked.

Emily stared at him, his grey hair fascinated her. She'd rarely seen a man with grey hair, or almost silver in this case.

"No, I'm just curious." she said, following his gaze as he again checked the coridoor. The empty one at that, "You do know you can have your hair returned to it's normal color?"

"Why?" he reached up and touched it, "It decided to go this way, who am I to change its nature."

'Hair doesn't have a nature.' she found herself thinking, the words preparing to leave her mouth in a scientific rebuttle.

"Well, I'll answer your question if you answer one of mine." Camael smiled.

"Um.." she paused, gathering herself as her thoughts were interrupted and she was caught attempting to understand his words, "Your the one who spoke to me first. I don't see how me answering a question is helpful until I know your question. And I am trying to be helpful here but you're not making it very easy. Which is painting me to be the rather rude impatient security officer."

"Now that does make sense, doesn't it." he tapped his chin, "Do you have a habit of making sense?"

Emily shrugged, "I try not to."

Camael laughed, his round face jiggled, "Yet you can't help it can you?"

She was growing a little tired of the round about conversation, "I'm sorry but I do have …"

"Yes yes, things to do." he raised his hands and stopped her response, "I understand how busy it can get. Life, I mean. I wouldn't understand any of what goes on within this type of ship. It seems rather jittery if you ask me."

"Well we do see things that would create such feelings." she crossed her arms, "I am sorry, I really would like to help you but I can't be much help if we're just standing her talking in circles."

"Circles, a lovely shape." he nodded.

Emily was flustered. She'd never met anyone like him. Either he truly didn't have a reason to be speaking to her or he was delighting in speaking about nothing to her.

"Does there always have to be a point?" his voice change, the tone less bouncy and more serious.

"Does what?" she asked.

"You seem torn in a battle of your own mind. Unable to decide whether to follow the point or forget it. " he stepped closer to her.

"Are you a counselor?" Emily sighed, "I really don't need this."

"Sure you don't." he winked at her, "I need to go…" he whirrled his finger aobut in the air and pointed upwards, "That way. Good day, Miss Star."

Emily looked up, then realized she hadn't told him her name, "Wait…" but he was gone.

"Maybe I do need a counselor." she chuckled and headed back in her first direction. She had just gotten off shift, so techinically she wasn't busy but as she walked she felt her feet growing heavier. Her mind wandered over the silly old man. And again she found herself wondering about hair.


Originally Posted 12/10/08 by Emily Star

Deck 2 | Departing Officer's Mess

Matt moved once more through the corridors of the Hawking. He chuckled silently to himself, a combination of his earlier meeting with Munro and now the realisation that he was spending more time walking through the corridors of this ship, than actually getting any work done. Despite the latter, his mind wandered back to his earlier meeting. He allowed his thoughts to tick over in his mind, not point them in any direction but allowing them to simply exist. Who was Jillian Munro? Underneath it all, who was she really?

Matt sighed silently, rolling his eyes at the preposterous thoughts. What did it matter to him? He didn't care, he couldn't care… even if he wanted too.

The tight feeling once more re-established itself in his chest, but it was gone almost as quick as it came. In the distance he could hear a childish giggle once more.

Still reeling from her rather supernatural encounter, T'Shaini was replaying every moment of the session in her mind…it had ended rather abruptly when a messenger from her father came to inform her of the play. The counselor knew that she had no right to expect that one small conversation was going to be life changing for the young woman, but she had had to try. Odd how that when the moment was over, within the blink of an eye, she had returned. What exactly was going on here? Was it hallucination? What could possibly have brought it on? Before she could begin her almost ritualistic listing process she saw two feet directly in front of her, and froze.

"I am so sorry, I should not look at the floor when I am thinking."

Matt grinned. Barely taken notice of the woman who had nearly bowled into him. "No worries." He replied, shifting to look behind him first, then around her. "The littletike is playing hide-and-seek once more." He grinned. "Don't want to be bested by an eight year old!"

"Ah it is good to see you settling in so quickly." Her brow furrowed in thought. "Eight year old? Edded Feeya is nine…is that who you are playing with?"

"No." A whirl of energy tumbled quickly by and once again jumped into Matt's arms. "This is my daughter Maddison."

"You didn't find me!" She squealed in delight at her win. The little girl's eyes widened as she glanced over at the woman talking to her father. "You are Vulcan aren't you?" She asked almost solemnly.

"Yes I am." T'Shaini leaned in to whisper in a conspiratorial fashion. "It is the ears is it not? They give me away every time." The counselor recalled David handing her Matt Hudson's file, she had perused it briefly, intending to devote more time to it before his first session. She could not recall reading that he had brought his daughter, in fact….

"She said she liked my nose."

Maddison's comment clearly caught the woman by surprise. "Who did?"

"Feeya did!" Maddison giggled back. "We are alike she said." The proud little response brought a smile to the Vulcan's lips, which surprised Matt. Vulcan's smiled?

The apparent confusion on her father's face caused T'Shaini to realize that even though she had read his file and been informed of his entrance onto the Hawking…he had no idea who she was. Her smile grew broader as she stretched out her hand forMaddison to shake. "I am T'Shaini , the ships counselor, so if you ever feel like talking to someone you can always come to see me." Then with a nod toward her father. "That offer includes you as well."

Matt frowned slightly, allowing Maddison to slide gently to the ground. He was meant to undertake weekly counseling with this woman, yet for the life of him he couldn't remember why.

Madison giggled. "You're pretty!" She spoke, looking up squarely into T'Shaini's eyes.

"Thank you very much, I think you are very pretty as well." The counselor's eyes narrowed slightly as she took in the man holding the child. "I must say, you are much changed in her presence." Then outstretched her hand toward the child once more. "Good jobMaddison."

Maddison grinned, very pleased. "Daddy calls me Maddie, or Honey Bear." She frowned, thinking it over in her mind. "I guess you could call me Maddie. I think Honey Bear is for Daddy only." She said in whisper as she leaned closer.

"I think so too…Maddie it is." She could understand why the simple joy that this child brought lifted her fathers mood, it was infectious, even she was affected by it, but even so… "What brought you to the Hawking?"

Matt frowned, trying to remember why they had come to the Hawking in the first place. A new life? A chance to get away? Get away from what?

"Daddy and I want to explore the galaxy!" Maddison spoke up and nodded knowingly. "Find all the secrets that need to be uncovered."

Matt could hear the slight change in her childish voice when she spoke the last part, but no matter how much he tried to focus on the why's, he simply could not. The weight that had lifted off his chest when in his daughter's presence left him feeling almost light and giddy. So much was the difference, that he hadn't even realised how heavy and crushing it had been before her appearance. He was always what everyone expect, always smiling, flirting, laughing… but the crushing weight stopped it from entering his heart, his soul… stopped him from feeling.

Now he felt… alive! And he didn't want it to go away.

"That's right Tiger!" He ruffled her hair as he looked apologetic at the counselor. "Right now we are going back to explore our quarters andrussel up some grub!"

"Do not let me keep you." T'Shaini pressed her hand to her heart as she watched the effervescent pair bound away, rubbing the unaccountably sore spot the counselor stood thoughtfully in the corridor for several moments before with a shake of her head, began to wind her way back to her office. There was something odd about this day, if that is not the understatement of the year… and she had a feeling that at least one mystery might be cleared up by reading her reports.

A Joint Post with T'Shaini
Originally Posted 12/10/08 by Matt Hudson

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Holodeck 2 - Parrises Square ::
:: Medical vs. Operations::

(( Before Ender's encounter with the Demon ))

"Can you smell it, guys? You know what that smells like? Defeat! Surrender is imminent."

Chris Hodges looked over at Matt Ayre and Jill Munro, "I feel bad for them now."

Ender clutched his ion mallet tightly, "Screw them. Like the great philosopher Sun Tzu said: when you're done screwing your enemies, Screw 'em some more."

Chris furrowed his brow as he cocked his head slightly, "I studied philosophy at the academy and Sun Tzu did not say that, Ender."

"I'm paraphrasing, whatever."

Matt grinned, a laugh bubbling deep within as he watched the other team beat their chests like pre-historic cavemen. Tipping his head in their direction he laughed over to Kaisen Telk, the Hawking's Quartermaster. "Trying to talk themselves into some courage methinks," He turned to eye the competition.

"Let's hope it doesn't falter when they hurt themselves." Telk cackled. "After all, don't doctors make the worse patients?"

"On the contrary Mr Telk, there have been no conclusive studies to prove that statement."

Matt laughed as he watched Telk roll his eyes at the Ensign Serok. It was usually Telk who got annoyed by the Vulcan's need to state logic at every turn. "Lighten up Serok!" Telk responded, before looking back over at their opponents. He sent a wink to Munro who didn't seem to be taking part in the Medical team's heavy banter.

"Is there something wrong with your right eye, Mr.Telk?" Jill asked in all seriousness.

"Maybe there is," He laughed in response. "…maybe I need a physical?"

Matt grinned to himself. He didn't know Munro all that well, but this was going to be painful.

"If it is a physical you need, I would be glad to examine you," Jill gripped her mallet tightly and swung hard at the disk, sending it hurling towards Telk's head, "I think it's safe to say I'm known for my bedside manner."

Matt watched Ender Seldon give a snort. He hadn't really met the new Chief Medical Officer, heck he hadn't met the old one, he thought with a wry grin as he smiled over in Munro's direction, certainly not game enough to wink at her with approval.

Telk ducked the disk, having missed him by mere inches. It would have made another man think twice, a smarter man… Something Telk obviously was not.

"Sweetheart, you have the touch of an angel." He laughed, correcting his stance on his platform.

=/\=Missed Point to Medical Miracles. Serve to player two, Operational Hazards. =/\= The computer referee spoke out.

Ayre chuckled as he gave Munro a pat on the back, "Ignore him, Jilly. Nothing's gunna stop him…He's like synthehol, there is no good, there's just degrees of bad."

Jill smiled at Ayre, which instantly made his stomach drop. For a moment he had forgotten which Munro he was talking to; this was not his Jillian.

Belle Marsters glanced down at the platform beneath her, wobbling a little as she paled. Two ramps slanted down either side of the room, meeting at a point at the bottom. Their platforms, while only half way up the ramp were still a good ten meters off the ground, and only measured at fifty centimeters squared. Balancing on them as you dodged a hovering metal disk, raised too far above the ground never brought Belle much confidence.

"I don't think little Miss Marsters is cut out for this sport!" Hodges called across the room as Telk set up for his serve. Telk swung his mullet, bashing it in Chris' direction, grinning as the Bajoran ducked ruefully, twisting around as it ricocheted off the slanting ramp behind him, he aimed and smashed it back. It forced its way across the room, the disk slicing through the air towards Belle. Without thinking, she twisted gracefully, ducking out of the way.

While she wasn't a fan of heights, her flexability in this game counted tenfold. Belle grinned.

The bioweaponeer shrugged with a smirk, "I stand corrected. It's OK though, I'm feeling good about this round!" Chris yelled as he leaped from one platform to another. He readied his mallet for a solid backhand, "The squares keep rising and so does my confidence! Know why?," he yelled to the other side, "Cause it means we're winning."

"Oh please, your physical appearance has left you no reason to ever feel confident," Ender teased his old academy friend.

Matt laughed out aloud. Dodging the disk as it came hurtling towards him. "The Bajoran/Human mix can be quite good. Alas, in his case, something went wrong!"

"Very funny." Chris turned to Ender, "And YOU! Whose side are you on anyway?" It was then that Chris noticed Ender staring at Munro who was staring at, well, nothing. "What the hell is she doing?" Chris muttered to Ender.

The CMO shook his head, "I have no idea." He tapped her with the end of his mallet, "Yoooo Hoooo, Munro!"

Jill blinked into focus and turned back towards Ender, "Sorr—Sorry. I thought I saw…" She looked back toward the empty space in the corner of the room, "…I could have sworn that I saw his holiness standing…" It didn't make sense, but she pointed anyway, "He was right there. Just standing there…looking at me."

"His what?" Ender questioned, "Munro, get your head back in the game!"

"I think I should probably stop. I'm not…" she looked down at the mallet she held in her hands, "I don't feel very well."

"You can't quit now!" He yelled, "You're in the game! You wanna be a hero? You want a medal, or are you a coward? Knock off the feebleness, strap on a helmet and start shooting! We are the MEDICAL MIRACLES, baby, I want you to storm that beach like it's fricking Normandy!"

Ignoring Ender's comment, she continued to stare, "Something's not right," she muttered, "His Holiness was standing right there" She pointed again, "I'm not seeing things!"

Matt frowned across at Munro, having heard her words. He didn't know who she was talking about, but it couldn't have been good given the look on her face. He wanted to say something, but Telk beat him to the chase.

"Are you sissy's gonna play this game or should we just accept victory now and let you folk wander off with your tails between your legs."

Hodges responded in the best way he could, heaving as he swung his mullet at the disk sending it slicing through the air towards Telk.

Right at his head…

A Joint Post By Jill Munro, Matt Hudson and Ender Seldon
Originally Posted 12/10/08 by Ender Seldon

-SS Pathfinder-
-Enroute to USS Hawking-

Ben peeked out of the small viewport for what must have been the hundredth time. The stars seemed to take forever to pass as the transport ship crawled along at impulse speeds. "Hey Starfleet, we aren't any closer to your ship than we were five minutes ago," one of the settlers called out to him in good humor, "well maybe a few minutes closer." Scattered laughter rang out as the newly promoted noncom looked over his shoulder at the group of people that were congregated in the central galley. He cracked a smile and replied, "As far as I know I'm the only qualified engineer on this caper, so I'm checking the speed just to make sure we're keeping schedule."

"Yeah or you're pining for that girl you keep talking about in your sleep," Anthony Taylor, Ben's roommate for the past two days said.

"Pining? I don't know what that is. Does it have something to do with a tree?" Pierce said, shooting the twenty year old Anthony a dirty look. He made his way over to the table around which the four settler families were gathered for their evening meal, taking the visitor's place as usual.

"It means you got a girlfriend," Robbie Jacobs explained from his place on the opposite side of the large table. The 'visitor's place' at the table was down on one end across from all the children. At his first few meals, Ben could feel the eyes of all the rugrats from the SS Pathfinder staring at him. They still stared, until their mothers scolded them, but some of them were getting comfortable enough to speak to him. Six year old Robbie was one such person.

"A girlfriend? Oh you mean like how Janie Thomas is your girl?" Ben said as he pointed to the eight year old girl sitting three places down the table from Robbie. Robbie's friends, Bryce Taylor and Hugh Nelson couldn't contain their laughter at this revelation.

"I don't like her!" Robbie said in defense of his honor, "Girls are gross!"

"Robbie, don't say that!" his mother scolded while serving up the kid's food. "You be nice to girls."

"Sorry Ma'am, I was joshing with him," Pierce apologized to the woman, "it's all in fun.." The scathing look that Sarah Jacobs shot at him silenced BHP. "I shouldn't have said it," he added then shut his trap, when the woman turned away he looked at Anthony Taylor and shrugged his shoulders.

"She was against you travelling with us from the beginning," the younger man explained, "She even started arguing with dad when he agreed to take you onboard. I think she's got something against the military..she caught Robbie and the other kids playing army one day, she just tore into him for no reason. None of us could figure it out until Mrs. Thomas asked her about it. Seems like Miss Jacobs' husband was in Starfleet and was killed in some incident a few years back. She doesn't want her son to follow him, so I guess you're a threat to her."

"I won't be here long enough to be a threat to her," Ben remarked before he began to partake of the meal.


"Hey Mister Pierce tell us how many battles you've been in," Bryce Taylor said as Ben stepped off the ladder that went up to the CONN deck. The small transport ship only had five decks and one of those was a quarter deck that led to the CONN bubble. The others were dedicated to living space, the galley and a large cargobay. Pierce looked down to find that a small group of the ship's children were standing around, looking eagerly at him. "Yeath tell us about some batheles," Marilee Thomas lisped. Stacy Nelson nodded her head in agreement while Hugh did some kind of happy little dance off to the side.

"Okay," Ben said, caught off-guard by the sudden appearance of the children. he had climbed down from the CONN and found himself right in the middle of them all. They must have planned it that way.

"YAY!" Robbie Jacobs yelled. The shout echoed in the corridor but none of the kids seemed to care.

"I've been in three big ones," Ben started as the children stared up at him. They had him cornered at the ladder.

"Were you scaredth?" Marilee asked shyly.

"No way, he's a Starfleet officer, just like my dad was," Robbie said, "they're never afraid of anything!"

"Yeah, not afraid!" Hugh echoed.

"I was a little bit scared," Pierce admitted to the group of kids. "There's a lot of scary things happening in a battle but luckily you have your friends with you to help you." Ben's thoughts returned to the fight with Chuck and the Borg, by all accounts it was the smallest battle he had been in but it was one of great importance to him.

"Do you have a lot of friends?" Bryce Taylor asked, standing on one leg as long as he could before nearly falling over.

"Not a great many but I have some real good friends," Ben replied. He thought for a moment then said, "And you guys are my friends right?"

"Right!" Robbie yelled again.

"Robbie! Stop yelling, I could hear you all the way down the corridor," Sarah Jacobs reprimanded her son. "What are you children bothering Mister Pierce for? I'm sure he's busy.." The tone of the woman's voice suggested if Ben didn't have anything to do he would be best served by finding something.

"He's telling us about battles," Stacy said as if the topic was one that was discussed regularly by the little group.

Ben watched as Mrs. Jacobs' complexion turned paler and her lips thinned down. He realized how upset she was and remembered what Anthony had told him earlier. "I didn't tell them about what actually happened at the battles just about how.."

"That's quite enough Mister Pierce," Sarah Jacobs cut him off in mid-sentence. "Robbie go get ready for bed.."

"But Mom he's telling us about.."

"Now Robbie. And you others go get ready for bed too, I need to speak with Mister Pierce. Alone." The children filtered away, looking sad and dejected because story time had ended so soon. When the last kid (Marilee, who waved goodbye) had entered the corridor that led to the family's living quarters and the doors closed, Sarah Jacobs rounded on BHP.

"What possessed you to tell children about war? My family has suffered enough because of war Mister Pierce. I lost my husband to your stupid ideals and your lies about honor-bound duty. I don't want my son growing up hearing about that nonsense," Sarah Jacobs railed. "Stay away from Robbie and the other children, the less they know about you and your Starfleet, the better off they will be! I want my Robbie to grow up knowing he doesn't have to fight anyone for anything."

"Yes ma'am, I'll keep my distance," Ben acquiesced. The engineer had started to give a different reply then remembered he was hitching a ride to the Hawking. In an another day I'll be out of the settler's lives, no need to cause her any more grief.

"Well..good," Sarah resigned, almost expecting more of a fight from the man. "Good night, Mister Pierce," she said before stepping through the doors that led to the family rooms.


Ben couldn't sleep well that night. He tossed and turned for two hours, trying to get some sleep. He counted sheep, stared at the wall, counted backwards from one hundred, remembered all his birthdays, went over the design of the Hawking's impulse engine, tried to remember one of Kal-El's 'safety first' speeches and lastly tried to recall the speaker from his commencement ceremony at the technical academy but nothing helped. Finally he decided to get something to drink from the galley, hoping it would induce sleep. Leaving the room, Ben thought he heard voices down the corridor. He knew that John Taylor or Graham Nelson was probably awake on the CONN deck, keeping watch over the ship. But these voices came from the family quarters..where everyone should have been sleeping.

He moved down the corridor silently, the voice, he could now distinguish that it was only one person speaking, growing in volume and clarity. The person wasn't speaking either, it was someone..a woman, singing. The type of singing was older and more like the music he had grown up with on Sigma Iotia but sadder. The woman singer was also a crooner.

'Crazy for feeling so lonely, I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue. I knew you loved me as long as you wanted,' the woman sang slowly. Ben stopped outside of the door of the room where the music came from. The door was cracked and as he looked he saw a robed Sarah Jacobs sitting at a table beside an antique recording device. He turned to go back to bed, not wanting to disturb the woman or draw her wrath. His boot squeaked on a spot on the deck as he turned and Ben froze.

"Dammit." he hissed.

"Who's there?" Sarah called out, drawing her robe around her she came to the door. "Mister Pierce?" she asked as the woman recognized him.

"Sorry, I heard a noise and then your radio and came to investigate," Ben offered in an apologetic tone.

"Do you like Patsy Cline?" Sarah Jacobs asked.

"I didn't know it was her singing..she just reminded me of the music from my homeworld, it's kind of similar." Pierce wondered where the conversation was going. The woman didn't seem angry at him.

"Do they dance on your world Mister Pierce?"

It was a simple question, Ben had a simple answer. "Yes Ma'am they..I do."

She moved a step closer to him, the doorway functioning as a boundary between the two of them. "Will you dance with me Mister Pierce?" Sarah Jacobs asked as she took his hand gently and pulled Ben into the room.

BHP swallowed and said, "Yes." He took her hand then let his right hand hold Sarah's waist as she stepped close to him. There was a moment of hesitation then she sighed and laid her head on his shoulder. The singer began to croon about three cigarettes as Ben slowly moved back and forth. In his thoughts, it was Jenny Anderson he was sharing the dance with.

"When you get to your ship," Sarah Jacobs started, "hold your girl tight and don't let go..I should have held my Andrew tighter. I should have gone with him." The woman's arms clutched Pierce tighter. "You're like him. I was angry with you because you reminded me of him so much. I miss him.." There were no words and then Ben realized she was crying. Confused, embarassed and feeling helpless, Ben kept moving in time to the music, holding the sobbing woman. When the last tear had fallen, Sarah looked up at Ben, her eyes softened and she smiled then stepped away from him.

"Thank you Mister Pierce, I think you should return to your quarters.." she suggested.

Ben nodded and turned to leave, stopping only to say: "Thank you for the dance." Then he was down the corridor and back in his bunk. Sleep did not come as soon as he would have liked, and Ben spent much of the night laying awake in thought.

Featuring NPC Benjamin Hyde Pierce
Originally Posted 12/10/08 by Javier Costala

The Snow Queen Variations
::The Other Side of Midnight::

“Cool.” The single word fell from Jenny’s lips in a puff of frosted air and for a moment she was distracted from the depths of the black eyes staring down into her own.

The man held up her hand in his, noting how the pale of her fingers shaded towards blue, “Cold, it is,” he corrected lightly. “Too cold for such as yourself to stay within and live.”

“But if I go back…” it will hurt again.

“I would never suffer you to leave,” he told her, placing his icy palm against her cheek.

Rather than pull away from the coldly burning touch, Jenny turned into it… the cold meant nothing… that her limbs were beginning to die meant nothing.

“Nor will I suffer you to perish,” he leaned down and lay a gentle kiss on her forehead and, while she grew no warmer, the cold had less meaning. The frost prince then pressed his lips to the mortal woman’s cheek, and now she felt nothing at all… she might have been made of the snow which blew so thick around the pair. “I would kiss you a third time,” he whispered and Jenny shivered, though not from any physical sense, “but that would truly kill you.”

“I’m not afraid,” and in death, the distant thought reached across the storm, she wouldn’t be alone…

“Of course not,” he replied, taking her by the hand and leading her further away, “fear would be painful… and have I not taken away all that pains you?”

Jenny followed but something… some inner tugging at the chill in her breast had her turning to look back over the snow swept forest. There, in the distance, her right eye, which had been stung by the falling snow, beheld a lumpen troll-like creature, muttering in some foul language but to her left, untouched eye there appeared a ghost, waving her back, back to the world.

But then, she thought, turning finally away from the twinned vision, it was only a ghost, and the world to which he beckoned her was filled with sorrows and here, at least, there was peace.

"Come away, oh human child…"

Originally Posted 12/11/08 by Jenny Anderson

::New Orleans, Louisiana::
::June 20, 2379 - 22:32 Hours, Local::

“… I’m not nuts about the look,” Finn was saying, tugging at the unaccustomed tie as he exited the TARDIS.

“It suits the evening,” the Doctor replied calmly. “Besides, even if your uniform weren’t reeking of alcohol…”

“And who’s fault was that?”

“… it’s not the correct issue for when we are. Dressed as civilian…”

“A civilian gigolo.”

“… you’ll blend.” The Doctor stepped out into the street and took a deep breath of the heavy air, “Ahhh, New Orleans,” he said with an appreciative sigh, “there really is no other place like it," his eyes twinkled as he grinned at Harry, "and I’d know.”

Harry was looking around, scoping the tourists, the players and those on the grift. The lights of distant high rises threw the endlessly resurrected antebellum style of the French Quarter into sharp relief. It was, no matter how many times it had been rebuilt, an ancient place, heavy with history and redolent of the pernicious damp against which the architecture constantly battled. For those who loved New Orleans, it was the ongoing struggle against tireless decay which defined the city.

Not so for Harry, who had only ever come for another’s benefit. He was for the forested hills, dressed in autumn for preference… “Okay, the where is obvious… when are we?”

“Let’s go this way,” the Doctor turned on his heel and strode into the sweltering masses who strolled, weaved and, with the help of the Delta Blues pouring out of a lone sax at the crossroads, danced, down Bourbon Street.

“Do you do that a lot,” Harry asked, his long legs keeping easy pace, “pretend no one’s talking but you?”

A glance slid sideways, “It’s twenty, June, Terran year 2379… the day before…”

“The day before I caught the Acker case,” the former JAG investigator kept on walking but didn’t look at his companion. He caught the eye of a gamin young vixen who was approaching from their eleven o’clock and gave a miniscule shake of his head. In response she offered a wink and a nod and continued on in search of easier pockets. “I wasn’t in New Orleans that day.”

“I know,” the Gallifreyan said, observing the silent exchange with interest. “This way,” in a sudden maneuver he veered out of the street and pulled up short beside a dark red door which he immediately opened to the sound of squeaky hinges and, with one ‘I dare you’ look, dove into the dark beyond.

Harry glanced up at the sign swinging above the narrow entrance.

‘Marie Leveau’s House of Voudoun’

“You’ve got to be kiddin…” but of course, the other man had already disappeared into the shadows. “Well, hell,” he let out a gust of breath and followed.

He found the Doctor in a dark and cramped parlor, being warmly welcomed by a mocha-skinned woman who looked to have walked out of a portrait, “Doctor,” the rich voice dressed in island tones greeted the Time Lord, before she lay a gentle kiss on each cheek.

“Queen Mousette,” he returned the salutations.

“It has been far too long,” she asserted, then revealed the depth of her knowledge of the man, “for me, at least." Then her eyes glided towards Finn, “And what do you bring me, here? Is this your new companion?”

Harry started, “What? No… I’m not…”

The Doctor paled, “He’s not…”

Together, “We’re not…”

She smiled, “Just as well… but you’d best keep him away from Captain Harkness.”


“Doesn’t matter,” the Doctor pushed on, “I’m sorry to have burst in like this…”

The Queen gave a slight nod, shifting towards the door to another room, more intimate than even this parlor, “Indeed, it is not the best time. I have an appointment due…”

“In three minutes, yes, I know. About that… may we watch?”

Mousette’s head tilted in a languid shake, “Oh, my friend…”

“I know… I know… but you also know me and you know I’d never ask if it weren’t important.”

A slow sigh preceded another very long look at Finn, “Is it to do with this one?”

Harry’s eyes narrowed, wondering whatever happened to simple pronouns.

The Doctor, however, had moved closer to the Voudoun Queen and was whispering in her ear. Her expression darkened but after a moment she nodded her acquiescence and pointed towards what looked to be a tapestry near the open door, “You know the way.”

“I do,” the Doctor gestured Harry to follow and, as he lifted the tapestry to reveal the hidey hole it covered, “and… thank you.”

They had to duck to get in but once through the small portal there was plenty of headroom… even a low-set light which hummed quietly on as it detected motion. Once the tapestry had fallen, Harry looked to the other man, waiting.

“Just over there,” the words were just audible enough and Harry followed the direction to… of course… a two-way mirror. The other side showed a tiny room, with a tiny table boasting two chairs, a deck of Tarot cards, a, aha, crystal ball and a few other oddments of the trade. Harry settled in to wait for whomever was coming in to get fleeced.

On the other side of the glass, a young woman entered and took a seat facing the mirror, nerves and the giddiness of doing something secret… something, in some way, forbidden… skittered across her features.

“Now, then, Mistress,” the Voudoun priestess also sat and gently stroked the waiting deck of cards, “what brings you to Queen Mousette this night?”

“I don’t really know,” her guest admitted, autumn-hued hair echoing the flames of the room’s many candles, “but I’ve walked by your door probably dozens of times and always said to myself… someday… and well,” she shrugged, “I’m on leave and somehow I just felt like…”

“Today was that day,” Mousette nodded her understanding. “It often happens so, Miss Laslow…”

“Sara,” Ensign Laslow, of Starfleet Intelligence, corrected. “Just Sara.”

On the town with Harry, the Doctor
Originally Posted 12/11/08 by Harry Finn

-Event Horizon-

The bar was full and yet so empty.

What's wrong with me? I feel so despondent. Javier looked down at the glass of port cradled within his grasp. It was his second and was still largely untouched. He'd never been much of a drinker. The room seemed to be moving around him at warp eight while Javier remained in the same place. It's the deaths of the crew, the engineers..but why? I know that people die..but I can't seem to move beyond their deaths no matter how I try. Because..because it's my fault that they're dead.

Laughter and voices filled with good humor shattered the Chief Engineer's morose state. Javier searched for the source and found it was a table filled with some of the new additions to the crew. He recognized Cadet Wekesa as one of the table's occupants. Mustapha says he's a well-mannered, friendly individual who seems to know what he's doing, so he can't be all that bad, Javier thought. Coming up through the ranks had given Javier the perspective that most cadets, who were fresh from the Academy, were generally useless during their first four months aboard. The officer suddenly felt the urge to approach the table and speak to Cadet Wekesa.

Before he could take a step an inner voice spoke. What will you write to his loved ones when he dies? Javier faltered and leaned back against the bar, the glass slipping from his fingers as an overwhelming sense of anguish rose up inside of him.

The cup of tea shattered on the hardwood floor. Javier stared up at Oichi the master samurai in disbelief. "Death? The shogun has ordered that Lord Asano be put to death?" he heard himself say.

"Death by seppuku," Oichi replied, "so he retains his honor."

"But it is not right. Kira dishonored him repeatedly that day. I myself was about to draw my sword and strike him down.."

"Then you would have been put to death,"Oichi said, moving aside so one of the servants of the house could clean up Terasakai's spilled tea and the fragments of the broken cup. "Kira was chosen by the Shogun to instruct our lord in his duties, the manner of his instruction is not for us to question."

"It isn't right," Javier said adamantly as he bled into the character known as Terasakai.

"Few things in this world are, unless you make them so," Oichi replied as he knelt down at the low table and began to pour himself a fresh cup of tea. "It is the Tokugawa Shogun's decree though and we owe him our lives. Do not dishonor yourself and your lord by disobeying him." The fragrant steam of the hot tea drifted up between the two warriors. "Our Lord wishes to speak with you, remember your honor and his, do not bring shame on his household," Oichi advised the young samurai.

"Hai." Javier stood to his feet and cinched his robe tighter so that the wakizashi was bundled closer to his frame. The retainers of the House of Asano had been on high alert since the incident with Kira, there had been rumors of a plot to have them all murdered because of what had transpired at Edo castle. Slidding a panel aside, the samurai stepped into the garden that led to his lord's abode. Javier instinctively took his katana from the rack near the door but kept it in hand instead of tucking it in his robe. He slowly treaded the path that wound through the garden to the small mansion where Naganori dwelt when he was in Edo. Not even the peace and beauty of the garden was powerful enough to sweep away the sadness of the samurai.

He found Naganori in the room that served as his private library. Books were scarce in Honshu but Lord Asano had taken great pains to purchase and collect many sacred texts and papers. Terasakai/Javier had expected to find his lord here but instead of reading, the younger man was writing.

"More than the cherry blossoms, inviting a wind to blow them away, I am wondering what to do. With the remaining Springtime." Naganori spoke as he heard the samurai enter the room.

The poem gave the samurai hope. He is thinking about the remainder of Spring. He will not give in to this great injustice. Javier felt some relief until the younger man spoke. "It is my last poem. It seems fitting." The young aristocrat sighed to himself then said, "Terasakai, we have been friends longer than you have been my retainer, it would bring me great honor to have you serve as my second."

"No!" Javier cried, then the glass of port exploded on the floor. Instead of Naganori Asano facing him, the engineer found a number of people from the Event Horizon staring in his direction. It took a few minutes for him to realize where he was, then Javier apologized to Xer before ducking out of the bar.

I have to find T'Shaini, the troubled engineer thought as the speed with which he navigated the corridor increased, I think..I think I'm going crazy.

Originally Posted 12/11/08 by Javier Costala

:: Gotham City ::

A Starfleet Officer in full uniform and a younger man dressed in 24th century civilian attire trudged down a dark and littered back alley. Heavy mist hung high over head and occasionally a chilly breeze stirred the debris into miniature whirlwinds of trash. Their voices echoed off high brick walls as they made their way deeper into town.

“I still say we should have waited in your quarters. We don’t even know where we are…” The nameless acolyte had been complaining since Hawking’s CO made the decision to set out on a quest for answers. He followed very near behind the image of his older brother.

“And I still say I do know where we are. It’s Gotham City and it can’t be real,” Nils said with a vicious finality.

“I think you must be mistaken, Captain. I fail to understand how we could have entered not only another realm of existence, but a fictional one at that…” The acolyte shook his head in disbelief. “And you knew of this place before we came here?”

“I had a roommate at the Academy who was obsessed with stories of the protagonist this city belongs to. There are multiple novels, and vids and any other manner of media that feature him as the primary character,” Nils said as he glanced up at the high buildings. He had an inkling of who he was looking for and suddenly wished he’d paid more attention to… What was my roommate’s name? “Though my roommate tried to interest me in the stories, I generally found other things to do. I wasn’t very social back then…”

“As opposed to the ray of sunshine you are now?” The First chuckled at his own jest.

“It’s not like you’re the example of cheer and joviality,” Nils fired back.

“Well, I was an acolyte for a dark religion in service to a madman for nearly all of my life. What’s your excuse?”

“Listen,” said Nils, stopping dead in his tracks. He spun to face down the image of who his brother would have become. “I don’t need you to lecture me on my attitude – or anything else for that matter. I brought you to our universe because…” He faltered. Still unsure of exactly why he’d pulled the First through the rift in space, Nils clamped his jaw shut. “Just leave me alone.”

“Alright then,” the First answered sarcastically. “I’ll just head over to the Gotham City temple and ask if they require assistance. I’m sure there is a place for me…”

“I don’t mean leave me alone, now,” argued Nils. “I mean…stop trying to bother me on subjects you know nothing about.”

“I think I know…”

The acolyte was cut off by the sound of footsteps in the alley. The two men turned to see a gang of miscreants running towards them.

“This doesn’t look good,” Nils commented. He took a step and raised his hands in attempt to begin negotiations. Mischievous laughter and a fist to the chin indicated his attempts at diplomacy had once again failed.

The First began a hand to hand struggle with one of the larger men, but found himself quickly overpowered and driven against one of the high walls that bordered the alleyway. Nils rose and made an effort to get near the First. “Jachin,” he called out as he moved. His Starfleet training served him well at the outset, and allowed him opportunity to evade most of the incoming attacks. But as he drew nearer to the First, his lack of practice began showing through. And one more time he found himself on the ground.

“Cash, gentlemen… We want your cash,” said a voice. Since they were cloaked in silhouette, Nils couldn’t tell who’d been the source of the demand. A clicking sound and the barrel of an ancient weapon indicated the severity of the threat, however.

“You are fictitious,” cried the First, still pinned against the wall.

“What’d he call us boss,” said the largest of the assailants. “Cuz I don’t think I’m that.”

“I think he called you a fruit, Lenny,” the man with the gun answered with a sly smile. “Lenny don’t like bein’ called a fruit.”

“Of course he doesn’t,” replied Nils, rising slowly to his feet. He tried to appear as unthreatening as possible. “But in any case, if by cash you mean monetary compensation we don’t have any. We were delivered here somewhat unprepared for our stay.”

“Then say your prayers, ya weirdo,” the boss man said as he leveled the weapon.

A whir of wind erupted from a rooftop and a dark shadow fell to the street. Multiple projectiles seemed to fall with him, each at varying trajectories. Two men fell to the ground, straightaway and the weapon that had been aimed at Nils face seemed to vanish as well. A skittering of metal on pavement far down the alley, confirmed that the mugger was indeed unarmed.

Nils took his opportunity and dove at the man’s middle. But before he could connect the man was gone and the Bajoran found himself belly down on concrete. Sounds of a scuffle erupted over his shoulder, but by the time he rolled over all of the men were on the ground moaning and writhing in pain. Only the dark shadow remained standing.

The First appeared suddenly at Nils' side and helped him to his feet. I’m going to speak to Tenanji the moment we’re back on the ship and set up combat training…

“Is that the protagonist? Did you see how he moved? Who is that,” the acolyte said in a rush of excitement.

Nils sighed as he brushed the city much from his uniform. “That… is the Batman…”


Featuring NPC Torrik Jachin
Originally Posted 12/11/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking
Counselor's office

Matt Hudson's family was dead, Ophelia did not exist…yet T'Shaini had seen both. What exactly is going on? Hallucinations? But what could have brought them on…both she and Matt had been in Event Horizon, was something connected there? Was it the nature of the visions? The Vulcan shook her head at that thought, what did a lost child and a fictitious character have to do with each other? Or are we seeing things we wish to? But did she have any deep seated desire to see Ophelia? She thought not. Puzzling to be sure. The counselor rose, thinking that perhaps some tea would help focus her analysis, then found herself staring blankly at the replicator, puzzling til her puzzler was sore. T'Shaini closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the wall. This makes no sense. An errant breeze lifting her hair made the Vulcan pull back from the wall and look around….here we go again.

Singsong rhymes off in the distance signalled that no matter how much she had tried earlier there was little she had done for the poor young woman. The play had proceeded as written, her father killed, the man she loved responsible for the murder had been banished and her sole remaining support, her brother, was still in France…but not for long. Or wait…what was she singing? The counselor crept down the hallway, unwilling to be discovered as of yet and caught a faint voice drifting in the air.

"They bore him bare fac'd on the Beer,
Hey non nony, nony, hey nony:
And on his grave raines many a teare,
Fare you well my Dove."

Ah yes, Laertes has returned to find her broken. T'Shaini always fancied that Ophelia was not beyond reach at this point, that everything she sang about was pain too deep to be communicated in a direct manner so she 'turnes to Favour, and to prettinesse' as Laertes was about to say.

"Here's Rew for you, and heere's some for me. Wee may call it
Herbe-Grace a Sundaies:"

Rue, a bitter herb that Elizabethans frequently used to induce miscarriage. Oh yes, she knows what she is saying. T'Shaini thought. As she drew closer to the chamber she became aware of a young man hovering outside the archway, listening as intently as she was. "Horatio?"

"At your service." He said with a neat bow after starting at her interruption.

"I am here to help, if I can." A flash of intense emotion brightened his face. Interesting. "How is she?"

"She speakes much of her Father; saies she heares
There's trickes i'th' world, and hems, and beats her heart,
Spurnes enviously at Strawes, speakes things in doubt,
That carry but halfe sense: Her speech is nothing,"

"Indeed." T'Shaini chewed briefly on her lower lip. "And you have appointed yourself as her watch?"

"I have."

Most interesting. Before she could ask him any further questions Ophelia came tearing out of the chamber, followed by….the Queen. Of course, she does not have any lines in the next scene…I just had never imagined her following Ophelia. "Come on." With a wave of her hand at Horatio, T'Shaini followed the pair as they ran through the castle and out into the garden. T'Shaini and Horatio stood and watched as Gertrude stood helplessly over the sobbing figure of Ophelia. Heartbroken cries rent the air as all within hearing caught their breath…raw, unmasked pain sounding from the depths of her soul. Heedless of her dress, the Queen knelt down to brush her hand across Ophelia's hair, only to be ignored. They stayed, a portrait of sorrow frozen in time, for uncounted moments. Then with a shake of her head, the Queen rose to return to the castle. Passing the pair hidden in shadows she held Horatio's eyes while the Vulcan counselor went unnoticed. Can she not see me?

Watching the unspoken communication with interest, T'Shaini felt something 'click'. At least someone truly cares for her. In her professional opinion, no matter how much Hamlet mourned when he discovered she was dead, there was nothing in his behavior in the previous scenes to show that he had the same depth of emotion for her that she showed for him, or that he showed for his father. Now granted a woman's place in society was vastly different in those days, but if he had truly loved her, why would he immediately assume she had betrayed him of her own free will when it was discovered that her father was listening in the nunnery scene? Let that go for now and concentrate on what needs to be done.

With a rustle of skirts the Queen was gone. T'Shaini put her hand on the young man's shoulder to engage his attention. "Can you continue your watch over her? I may…need to leave abruptly, and I wish to know that someone is caring for her until I can return." She felt him flinch beneath her hand as another grief-stricken wail cut through the air. "Though you do not speak of it your lo…care of her may bring her the support she so desperately needs." Surprise in his eyes (do they not know how transparent they are?) Horatio nodded solemnly at her instructions. That done, she tugged him along toward Ophelia's side. Pausing for a moment she took him by the shoulders and held him hard. "And do not let her near water."

The next step brought her in contact with the hard surface of the replicator. Ouch…unfair. Rubbing her sore nose, she ordered some tea and sat back down for another long puzzle.

Originally Posted 12/11/08 by T'Shaini

Outskirts of Corinth
Selerius’ Tavern

“I’m dreaming,” Tatiana told herself as she toed the dirt of the road, not believing that this was real. “I’m dreaming, or my head injury is worse than I thought.” She looked around, there was no way that the Hawking could have disappeared and sprung up an ancient land in its place, at least not without the help of the holodeck. “Computer, end program,” she tried, hoping the scene would fade away. When it didn’t, she ran a hand roughly through her hair in frustration.

“Computer,” Xena said from beside her, “Is he one of your Gods?”

Tatiana shook her head, “No, it’s…complicated.”

“Hmm,” she inserted, and they walked the rest of the way in silence. When they arrived at the tavern, Xena directed Tatiana towards a table. “Wait here,” she instructed, and laid her weapons down. As she stood at the bar waiting for the two drinks, a man stumbled up behind her whispering something that Tatiana could see quickly made her companion upset.

“I’m not going to ask you again,” she loudly warned the drunkard. He ventured for a grab, and his face met Xena’s elbow. After falling to the ground, he scrambled up and rushed towards the warrior. She was ready for him.


“Holy-,” Tatiana cursed as she watched the woman spit ale into the fire with the intention to burn the thug that risen to attack her. Xena didn’t look to the burnt male again, and instead made her way back to the table where Tatiana sat, again surprised at what she was seeing. “How, how did you-” she stammered.

“I have many skills,” Xena said with a straight face, while her piercing blue eyes danced from the excitement of the conflict. She sat and finished her ale. She placed the mug down, leaned back in the chair and rested her legs on the table top. “So, are you going to tell me where you came from?”

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Tatiana responded. Xena stared into her eyes looking for a sign of deception, and when she could not find one, she motioned for her to continue. “You just appeared out of nowhere.”

“And I would say the same about you,” she responded. She looked thoughtfully at the door behind Tatiana, and said, “It sounds like the work of the Gods. I don’t know which one, but until I find out you’re with me.”

Tatiana looked alarmed, “I don’t have to tell you that you don’t exactly live a quiet life.”

Xena waved nonchalantly, and motioned for the tavern owner to come to their table. “Give my friend another ale.” The barkeep nodded emphatically and scurried off to complete the order. She looked to Tatiana, “You look like a woman who can hold her drink, so a second shouldn’t bother you. Finish it quickly; we have to meet a friend of mine up the trail in Corinth.”

Tatiana drained half of the mug, and then sat it down before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. After returning the wooden mugs to the tavern owner, they left under the watchful eye of the cautious patrons.

“Okay, what friend of yours are we meeting?” Tatiana asked as they walked towards the town ahead.

“Someone from my past. He was one of my advisors when I was head of an army.” She looked at Tatiana’s uniform with a frown, “You’ll need new clothing, you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.”

“I had forgotten all about it, I’ve been so focused on what’s going on,” she said looking down at her uniform. When it hit her that Xena had said that she led an army, Tatiana looked up quickly then pumped her fist. “That’s right,” Tatiana said and smiled, proud that she remembered some of what she had read about her companion. “I remember reading about it.”

Xena raised an eyebrow, “You’ve read about me?”

“Yes,” Tatiana answered. It was a small lie, she really had read about the woman, but not in the way the warrior thought. How could she explain that she was the real one, and it was Xena who was pure fiction? When she was a child this was her dream, to walk side-by-side with the warrior, righting wrongs in place of Xena’s irritating blonde sidekick. Maybe that’s why Gabrielle is missing, I never cared too much for her. “I’ve always found your life interesting.”

“Interesting wouldn’t be the word I’d use,” she responded. “There he is,” she said pointing towards the man leaning against a tree up ahead. Xena approached the male; the two friends grabbed each other’s forearm and shook before speaking quietly. From her spot a few feet away, Tatiana took in her surroundings, reaching out to touch the trees and blades of grass. It didn’t make sense to her how everything felt real, when she knew it wasn’t.

Featuring: The Warrior Princess

Originally Posted 12/11/08 by Tatiana Thorne

::The Laboratory::

“The fuses are charged, marthter.”

“Good, good…” he looked up towards the skylight where the storm was crashing with the power of the gods. “Then open the circuits, Igor… open them and we… will… make…li…”

“Ehhh, what’s up, doc?”

Alex von Gorsky lifted the sheet which covered his great creation, “You’re not my experiment…”

The long-eared rabbit wrinkled it’s nose, “And you’re not Bill Jameson…”

“I guess you should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque,” Gorsky told the animated bunny.

“Watch it pretty boy, no one likes a bit stealer.”

Alex rolled his eyes and looked over at Igor who shrugged, “The rabbit hath a point, thir…”

“Whatever,” von Gorsky turned back to the interloper, “I’d like to get back to creating life now, if it’s all the same to you.”

“Fine, fine,” with an offended twitch of the cotton tail, Bugs slid off the table and out of the lab. “But before you hit that switch, better ask ol’ Igor over there exactly which brain you just planted in Junior.”

After the rabbit had disappeared, Alex turned back to Igor, “What was he talking about?”

“Haven’t a clue, thir.”

The scientist tilted his head, as if trying to see something better, “Wasn’t your hump on the other side, earlier?”

“What hump?

Featuring NPC Alex Gorsky

Deck Eight | Hudson/Wekesa Quarters
(Later that night)

"You know you have to eat all your greens don't you?"

Maddison made a face as she stared unwillingly down at the peas that still swamped her plate. Matt chuckled. Her adorable dark eyes look up at him, pleading with him in the age old fashion that children of all species had used for centuries.

"Do I have to?"

Matt almost gave in, her pleading little face seemed to light up his heart and soul, filling it with a peace he had never known. He could not place the feeling, but something within him, something knew that not all was right, but that same something refused to give up it's secrets. He shrugged.

"Just two more ok!" He tried to use his most fatherly voice, but failed as her face brightened in triumph.

The doors whooshed open suddenly, and Simba trudged into the room, his thoughts clearly in another place or another time. "Hey, Matt, what's going on?" he said, almost automatically, glancing up only briefly as he walked towards his bunk. He took another two steps, then froze, the scene in their quarters finally registering in his mind. Slowly, he turned and looked back at the young girl shuffling food around her plate distastefully with a fork. "Um… Matt…" he started, looking at his fellow cadet, who seemed to find nothing particularly wrong with the situation. "Matt… who is this?"

Matt looked up at Simba, a confused look seemingly swamping his features.

He laughed. "Maddison, you dolt." He stood and removed grabbed both their plates. "Honey Bear," He walked over to the replicator that had created their meal and placed both plates on the platform. "…say hello to Cadet Wekesa."

She giggled and ran to hide behind one of the spartan look chairs that adorned their room. Another giggle could be heard from behind it.

Matt laughed as he tapped away at the controls, finally looking up. "Did you want anything?"

"No, thank you," Simba replied slowly, gazing at the chair that obscured their young guest. She looked familiar. He knew he had seen her face before, but he couldn't place it. The sound of the replicator as it recycled the plates and uneaten peas jarred his attention, and he walked towards Matt, forcing his eyes off the chair and onto his roommate. "Matt, just answer one thing for me… who is Maddison?" he asked in a hushed tone.

"Wha-?" Matt twirled around suddenly, looking at Simba as though he was crazy. "What a stupid thing to ask." He moved away, shaking his head. Something…something…what? In the back of his mind, an unpleasant thought, not even that, but a whisper of a thought tried to push into his conscious mind. With it came the sufficating feeling he had felt earlier that day, the feeling that he was drowning. No…NO.

She giggled again and the feeling evapourated. Calmer, more sedate…Matt turned and smiled at Simba with a small shake of his head. "You've met my daughter."

"Uhh…" Simba mumbled incoherently, trying to line up all the pieces in his mind. As soon as Matt had mentioned his daughter, her face clicked into place and his mind raced back to his awkward conversation with Matt earlier in the afternoon.

His eyes fell on one of the few personal affects in the room, sitting on the small table next to Matt's bed. "It must be difficult to be away from your loved ones so much… how old is your daughter?"

Matt frowned. "She is- was six."

"Matt…" he looked at his friend and something was different. He couldn't exactly put his finger on it, but he seemed somehow calmer… at peace. Simba frowned slightly, looking at Matt as he bent down and tousled the little girl's hair. He didn't know what to say… he'd been with Matt almost the whole time they were on Deep Space Nine. They'd come aboard the Hawking together, gone through basic orientation together, and he had never seen the girl in front of him outside of a photograph before. And yet, here she was… in his own quarters, nonetheless. "Matt, I'm sorry… we actually haven't met yet," he blurted, carefully choosing his words. He stepped forward and crouched down next to Hudson, smiling as he put his hand out. "Hi Maddison, I'm Simba."

Maddison grinned. "You're a lion!" She exclaimed suddenly.

Simba smiled broadly and chuckled. "Yes. Well, no. My name means lion in Swahili. You're very smart, aren't you Maddison?"

She scrunched up her little Bajoran nose. "Samuel Cho said that being smart mean't I wasn't pretty." She spoke at a whisper.

"He did, did he? Well, I think he's wrong." He lowered his voice to almost a whisper. "I'll let you in on a secret… you're very pretty and smart," Simba replied with another smile. He looked over at Matt, uncertain of exactly how to proceed. He'd never been terribly good with children and, real as Maddison Hudson seemed to be, he knew that something just wasn't right.

Matt smiled down at his beautiful daughter, a small touching her lips at Simba's words. "How about a story?" He asked her as she jumped up into his arms.


Matt moved to sit down in the chair with Maddison tucked tightly in his arms. Simba watched the two of them, his smile slowly fading as he considered the situation. He cleared his throat, suddenly, and spoke up.

"Well, Matt, I actually…" he paused, realizing that it was already getting late and that he had no legitimate duties to attend to until morning. "That is… I forgot that I promised someone from engineering that I would meet up in the holodeck tonight. So, if you'll excuse me…" his voice trailed off as he looked at Matt. He looked so happy, sitting with his adorable daughter.

Matt looked up briefly. "Sure thing." He responded, not really hearing anything Simba had said. "…then the little girl had to try on all the dresses in the palace. There were pink ones, blue ones, green ones…"

Simba turned and walked quickly towards the door. His heart was pounding and he felt jittery. As an afterthought, he paused and made a quick detour to his desk. He shuffled its contents briefly until he found what he was looking for, then walked briskly out the door and down the corridor without looking back. After a few moments, he rounded a corner and stopped, leaning back against the wall and slumping down slightly. The cadet closed his eyes for a moment, breathing deeply and trying to relax, then looked at the PADD he had pulled from his desk.

"Computer, pull up personnel files for Cadet Matt Hudson and transfer them to this PADD." The PADD chirped and came to life, text scrolling across its screen as it displayed the publicly-available files on Matt. Simba tapped the controls, skipping through most of the file until he came to the information on his family and children. His eyes scanned the letters on the display and froze on the parenthesized 'D' after the name of Maddison Hudson.

Simba felt his heart sink as he realized what the computer was telling him. She was dead. Was he going crazy? Was Matt? His knees felt weak, but Simba managed to push himself off from the wall and meander down the corridor in the general direction of the nearest turbolift He didn't know who else he could talk to here on this new ship; who else he could trust, but he needed to find somebody to convince him that he wasn't losing his mind.

Another collaboration from the minds of Mullet -erm, Matt Hudson and Simba Wekesa
Originally Posted 12/11/08 by Simba Wekesa

-SS Pathfinder-

"Good luck Benjamin," John Taylor said as he shook Pierce's hand, "we'll miss your stories and your help with the engines." The hour Ben had been waiting for for so long had finally come, the settlers' ship had caught up with the Hawking. Graham Nelson had contacted the Federation starship and the transporter chief was standing-by, waiting for a signal from the small civilian ship. But as he stood with the small group of settler families Ben found that part of him did not want to leave the ship.

"Thank you, I'll miss the company and all the good meals," BHP replied as he looked over the people in the room. All the families had congregated in the central loading bay to tell the engineer goodbye. His eyes came to a rest on Sarah Jacobs; the woman smiled slightly at him as her hand patted her son Robbie on the shoulder. "Robbie wants to ask you something."

"Will we see you again Mister Pierce?" Robbie asked as he stepped forward. The kid looked as if he had been crying. Ben noticed that all the other children were looking at him, waiting for his answer. He placed his kit on the floor and knelt down in front of the kids. "I don't know.." Ben started.

"We'll missth you," Marilee Thomas said sadly before stepping forward to wrap her small arms around Ben's neck. As if on cue the other kids also moved forward to hug the Starfleet engineer.

"I'm going to miss all of you too," Pierce managed to say after a few minutes. It was difficult to leave a place where he had been so readily accepted. There were wet streaks on his face as the children's parents gently pulled them away so he could transport home. "But we're all friends, and friends always see each other again," he promised. The engineer picked up his duffel. "If I can ever help you," Pierce told the families, "just send word." He stepped back and tapped his combadge.

=^=Pierce here, one to transport home.=^= Ben said, he waved goodbye as the streams of energy covered his form and swept him over to the starship. He stepped off the transporter platform as soon as the process of reconstituting his molecules was finished. The transporter officer was someone Ben did not recognize. The engineer paused beside a nearby viewport and watched as the SS Pathfinder fired up its engines and continued on its way toward the outer rim.

"Bye," Pierce said softly as the ship cruised off to port of the Hawking.

"What make of ship was that?" the transporter officer asked.

"I don't know," Ben replied, "her engines were different and I wasn't familiar with her specs."

"I couldn't find them in the database either. In fact, there's nothing listed that even comes close to that design."

"The crew..they were good folks," BHP told the officer. He caught one final glimpse of the Pathfinder before she winked out of sight.


"You're supposed to report in to your.." the transporter officer started to say as he looked up from his console. Pierce was no longer in the transporter room. "Where the hell did he go?"

"Computer locate Crewman Jenny Anderson," Ben requested as he walked down familiar corridors. He felt happy to be home. The Hawking was the closest thing he had to a home afterall.

"Crewman Anderson is in the Armory," the computer answered in its feminine tone. Pierce took a left at the next junction and walked a little faster. The way to the armory seemed to take longer than it had before but BHP used the time to try and decide what he would say to Jenny when he saw her. Eventually he found himself on the armory deck but still had no idea what he was going to say to Jenny. Hello, I missed you? Hello, guess what? I'm not dead! Or, hello I've thought about you every day since I've been away.. Ben winced. Nearly two months have passed and I still don't know what..I' His thought process hit a snag when he entered the armory to discover that while he had been away, Lt. Tenanji had planted a forest inside the room that had onced housed Security's weapons. Not only was it a forest, but a forest with snow laden evergreens, and snow was falling from the sky.

The sky?

"Holy Toledo!" Ben exclaimed, he turned to look back but could see only trees where the door should have been. "Computer, is this a simulation?" he queried.

There was no reply from the ship's computer. Pierce waited a few minutes before he let his curiosity get the best of him. The Iotian had never seen snow before, only heard and read about it. He scooped up a fistful of the white, cold powder, packed it together in his hands and then flung it at a nearby tree. The snowball hit the trunk and disappeared in a spray of white mist. Pierce couldn't help but laugh. He sniffed the air then shivered as a chill came over him. Looking around he noticed a path leading through the trees, and further down the avenue he could see Jenny and..someone else.

"Jenny! Hey, what is this? Jenny?" BHP called out as he waved. He trudged through the snow towards the person he had waited so long to speak to, within seconds he was running, or doing the best he could without snowshoes. He floundered up to Jenny and the man she was with, pausing only because something seemed wrong. Pierce couldn't explain the sensation but he felt ill at ease.

"Jenny, I came back..for you," Ben said, looking from the young woman to her companion.

Originally Posted 12/12/08 by Javier Costala

The Snow Queen Variations
::Far, far away…::

"Jenny, I came back..for you," Ben said, looking from the young woman to her companion.

"Do you know this creature?" the prince asked.

Jenny gave a slight shake of the head, "No," she said, her voice as chill as the wind whipping through her hair, "but he's pretending to be someone I knew." Stepping closer to the troll, which would fade into BHP's semblance and back like a holographic toy, she caught the monster's eyes with her own and it could be seen, now, up close, that while her left eye was the same grey it had always been, the right was darker, shading towards black. "The last person who tried to take Ben's place is dead," she told the creature who stood, staring. "He's dead because Ben killed him and just because Ben is dead, too, it doesn't give you the right to take his shape." She began to turn away again…

Creature? Who's this drugstore cowboy calling a creature? Pierce thought. He let the slight go as he listened to what Jenny Anderson had to say. She was comparing him to Chuck and in some ways that was almost as disheartening as the young woman's refusal to acknowledge him. She still thinks you are dead though. DS9 must not have gotten in contact with them. "Wait," Ben said as his right arm shot out to block Jenny's progress. "It's me, it's Ben, they were wrong, I'm not dead. I know I've been gone a long time but it really is me."

In response she took hold of his wrist, twisting it backwards while she threw a roundhouse kick into the beast's mid-section, "I used to hate lies," she said, as he fell away.

"…really? I think I hate being kicked in the stomach almost as much," Ben stated as he lay on the cold snow trying to get his breath back. The move had come out of nowhere, and was not the sort of homecoming he had imagined. The cold seeped into his uniform causing him to get up from the ground quickly. "That was unexpected," Ben told Jenny as he stood in front of her once more, "but I'm not lying to you. I am Ben. I know I told you not to write me anymore but that was a mistake. I'm sorry I did that..I should have never cut myself off from you." His hand came to a rest on her shoulder, rubbing it gently as if consoling her.

Deep inside her heart, beneath the shroud of ice, something stirred and her hand, so cold now, began to reach for his face but then…

"He tricks you," the deep voice of the prince interrupted as his own hand, carrying the weight of winter, claimed Jenny's before it could touch Ben's skin, "using your own knowledge to twist your mind against me…"

"Look buddy, I don't know who you are but this is a private party," BHP told the stranger who had insinuated himself into the conversation, "I've had to wait a long time to talk to Jenny, so you better beat it." He reached out and grabbed the stranger's wrist, intent on applying pressure so the man would drop Jenny's hand. Ben gasped as a chill, so cold that it burned, encased his hand. He tore his hand away from the stranger's arm. "Jenny, who is this guy?"

"He's the one who took the pain away," she said, quietly, looking up at the perfect features, the black eyes which were echoed in her own, snow-stung iris.

"And I will keep it away," he added, placing his arm possessively about her shoulders, "for all eternity…" and so saying he raised his other arm in a sweeping gesture which brought the wind and snow swirling over the pair in a micro-storm which lasted only a moment but, when the moment passed and the air cleared, both Jenny and the dark man were gone.

Pain. It shot up his arm as he watched the stranger wrap Jenny up in a swirl of snow. Frigid tendrils snaked up his forearm as the cold burn spread from where he had grasped the strange man's wrist. His fingers became immobile and Ben grunted as the sensation spread from his forearm to his shoulder and then into his chest. His lungs began to freeze as ice slithered into them. The engineer dropped to his knees as his breath came in hoarse, ragged gasps and he started to cough the last air from his hardening lungs.

"Ohboyohboyohboy… didn't anyone tell you not to mess with the Snow Queen's son?" A voice fluttered, quite literally, next to the dying man, "Well, obviously not… but, don't worry, sport… I got yer back.. yup… sure do. I'll just fly to the boss and he'll fix you up, right as sleet…" A long black beak followed by a beady black eye surrounded by oily black feathers peered into BHP's face, "Just hold on, sport, I'll be right back…" and with a wink and a rustle of feathers, the raven was aloft. "Don't go anywherrrrre…."

Ben's reply was nothing more than a wheeze. He stared at the funny little bird until it flew away. Hurry. he thought before collapsing into the white powder. If he'd known about them Ben could have made a snow-angel with the last of his energy before he passed out.

Joint adventure with NPC Benjamin Hyde Pierce
Originally Posted 12/12/08 by Jenny Anderson

Simba Wekesa paced nervously back and forth in the turbolift as it ascended through the Hawking. He was still turning the evening's events over in his mind, trying to make some sense of the situation. Was he going crazy? He didn't think so… crazy people usually didn't realize they were crazy. All he knew was that he needed to talk to somebody, and given everything, Matt Hudson was not that person tonight. A part of him felt bad for bothering anyone this late at night, especially on his first day aboard the ship, but he didn't see that he had a whole lot of choice at this point.

The turbolift slowed to a halt and the doors opened onto a seemingly-deserted deck. Simba stepped out and hurried down the corridor, quickly scanning the signs on the doors until he found the one he was looking for. He reached out to press the door chime and stopped. Would she even be in her office at this time of the night? You've come this far, Simba, and you're not going to sleep until you've talked to someone. Sighing, he tapped the button and heard the muffled sound of the door chime in the counselor's office.

T'Shaini sat in her office, she had tried meditating, she had tried running statistical possibilities through the computer and now she was clearly trying to see if staring at the wall would bring any illumination. Unlikely. It was also unlikely that she was going to come to any clear conclusion without further research, see if anyone else had had similar experiences. She stood and dragged her fingers through her hair as she stepped over to the couch to assure herself that Lia was still sleeping peacefully. She had requested Katie bring her to her office in the event Javier had not yet returned to their quarters. A slight smile crossed her face as the Vulcan wondered at something which possessed so much energy just moments ago could be sleeping so deeply. Which brought her back to Maddison….surely if other were experiencing similar phenomena I would have heard something by now? As if brought into being by her thought, someone rang at her office door. Signalling the door to open, T'Shaini was interested to see one of the newer members of the Hawking, interesting indeed that something had brought him to her office so late in the day. Stepping quickly across the room, T'Shaini held out her hand. "Simba is it not? I was hoping we would have the pleasure of meeting soon."

The cadet looked nervous, but he was starting to feel a little calmer. The adrenaline rush he had been on after leaving his quarters was beginning to dissipate. "Yes, ma'am. Cadet Simba Wekesa." He shook her hand and glanced past the counselor at the sleeping child on the sofa. "I'm sorry to be disturbing you so late… perhaps I should come back in the morning?"

"No, not at all." She led him further back toward her desk and sat on the edge while gesturing toward the chair before it. "Please, as long as you do not mind, we are far enough away that we will not wake her." Not the most idea environment for a counseling session, but if he had come by this late there had to be a good reason.

"Thanks," Simba replied, taking the seat that she offered. He paused for a moment, trying to find a way to word things that wouldn't make him sound completely insane. "Counselor… I think I am seeing things that I know can't be there. I… I was just in the Event Horizon, and when I came back to my quarters… well, my roommate's daughter was there. And she wasn't there before. We came aboard the ship together, and she wasn't with him then either. And I'm pretty sure she is dead." He stopped and bit his lower lip. It had all come pouring out suddenly, not the way he had intended. He breathed out, trying to regain his composure. "But it all seemed perfectly natural to him… he insisted that I had met her before and acted like I was crazy. So I guess what I need to know is… am I?"

"I suppose it depends on whether Matt Hudson is your roommate." T'Shaini countered lightly. "And if he is, and that is a basis for insanity then you are likely coming to speak to the wrong person…for I saw her as well."

Simba's eyes widened as he listened to T'Shaini's response. "How…" he started. "You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that. At least I know I am not hallucinating. But I am almost certain that she is dead. I was asking about a picture of her this afternoon, and Matt told me that she was six years old… past tense. And then tonight, it was like she had been there all along. And when I left our quarters, I looked at his personnel file and it told me the same thing. How can we both be seeing somebody who can't possibly be here?"

"That is exactly what I would like to know." Likely inappropriate to tell him that I have encountered a Shakespearean ingenue at this juncture. "Have you 'seen' anything else? Or do you know of any others that have experienced a similar phenomenon?" T'Shaini asked.

Simba shook his head. "I haven't talked to anyone else since I saw her… other than that, it's been an ordinary day. I worked in engineering, then went to the Event Horizon for a while, then back to my quarters." He trailed off, trying to think. "I guess I have been thinking about my family a lot tonight, which is something I usually avoid… it just keeps coming to mind, if you call that unusual. Maybe I'm just stressed." He shrugged, knowing that it wasn't terribly helpful.

"I think this might be more than a stress induced situation…however, having brought that up," The counselor leaned forward with a warm smile. "I would hope that you would consider stopping by my office whenever you have time." The smile drifted from her face and her fingers began a steady drumbeat on the top of the desk. "As to what may be going on currently…I have no clear idea yet what may be causing it. It seems to be doing no harm, and in fact, may do him good. It remains to be seen whether this is an isolated incident…" incidents… "or that it is a shipwide anomaly."

"Alright, I'm just glad I'm not the only one seeing things." Simba smiled, his usual cheerful self coming to the surface. Something about Counselor T'Shaini's words and advice had calmed him down. "And thank you… I will be sure to stop by again soon." He stood, nodding to the Vulcan, and left the office. As soon as he exited the room, he breathed a sigh of relief. At least I am not crazy.

After a short walk down the corridor, he again found himself in the turbolift. "Deck eight," he called out, and the turbolift began its ascent. Maybe a good night's sleep would help… but then again, going back to his quarters would only remind him of his problems again. "Computer, belay that," Simba said decisively. "Deck eleven, aft section."

A joint post with the lovely and talented T'Shaini
Originally Posted 12/12/08 by Simba Wekesa

Maybe it was the port? Perhaps it was the vintage, sometimes if the grapes are harvested can cause one to hallucinate about Japanese people. Javier sighed and ran his hand through his hair while shaking his head, irritated at himself for thinking something so ludicrous. Is it worry? Does worrying about whether you're a fit leader make you slip into a dreamworld? Does it make you dream in Japanese?

Every explanation that Javier could think of did not justly answer why he could dream about a place and people he had never known. And it's not even a seems real. the engineer surmised as he reached T'Shaini's door. He hesitated outside the Counselor's office, wondering if he should bother her. There's been so much for her to deal with lately. Nils and Jillian's death and Harry being taken prisoner, and Jenny, maybe I shouldn't tell her.

Or maybe you should tell her about what you've been holding inside for so long. Javier heard an inner voice tell him. He stepped forward and entered the office, taking in the sight of Lia asleep on the couch with T'Shaini sitting beside her. Javier knelt down beside them and placed a kiss of Lia's cheek. The little girl sighed and continued to sleep peacefully.

"Thank you for getting her," Javier said, not really knowing how to tell T'Shaini what he needed to.

"It was no trouble, Katie brought her over." She could see the tension that he had exhibited at the bar still lay heavy on him. "How was the rest of your evening?" T'Shaini inquired gently.

Tell her. he thought as Javier stood and took her hands, drawing T'Shaini to her feet so he could stand level and look into her eyes.

"I am hurting inside and I haven't been able to share it with anyone," Terasakai said as he faced the woman. The moon was bright in the night sky and illuminated the garden better than the paper lamps that adorned the area. Large golden koi swam peacefully in the shallow waters of a nearby lilypond. "The more I hide this hurt, the deeper it wounds me," the ronin samurai explained to the geisha. "It is not my dishonor, that I can bear on my own, but the act of allowing a friend to be punished, someone I knew was unjustly accused, is a hurt that willl not heal."

"Was this an act over which you had any power?" Okichi's fingers stilled on the shamisen, he seemed to have no interest in her playing or singing. Once the stringed instrument was laid to the side she folded her hands onto her lap and waited.

"I had the power to refuse to aid him in his death," the samurai revealed, "but I did not because it would have dishonored him. I allowed him to die." Terasakai let his eyes drop to the grass beneath their feet. "..and I was the one who killed him."

"Was there no other who would take your place if you refused?" She was skilled in the art of conversation, but this seemed to take a darker tone than the banter she was used to.

Terasakai struggled with the demands of Bushido, personal honor and his grief in an effort to try and formulate an acceptable answer. "There were others, but he did not request it of the other samurai. He requested that my sword end his life."

Okichi nodded. "So there were others to fill that role if you refused…but to refuse would have meant denying your friend and master's last wish?"

"To refuse would have been a disgrace, but to agree.." the ronin searched for a means to describe what he was feeling, "I chose to follow the laws dictated by the Shogun rather than to defend my friend whom I knew to be innocent." The inner struggle of Terasakai was laid bare with this declaration. For two months he had brooded upon the fate of his lord and the way in which his friend had chosen to die. "It is considered dishonorable to question the shogun, Lord Tokugawa is the lawbringer, but in this respect.." Terasakai took a deep breath then whispered on the expelled air, "his judgement was misplaced.

"Kappa mo kawa nagare…even a ‘Kappa’ can get carried away by the river." The geisha rose up to stand on her knees. "There are many things that we have control over, but all our control is but a blossom in the breeze against the dictates of honor and duty." Gracefully, she stood and reached to guide the ronin to his feet. "You did as your friend asked in accordance with the honor his life deserved, you allowed the act in reverance of the duty you owed to the laws of the land and the Shogun." She laid her hand on his chest and felt his heart race beneath her palm. "To have continual anguish over an act that was done with honor in the past bears no fruit. Once the anguish is released, you will know if there is something else you must do, if there is justice to be sought."

"My anguish has been clouding my duty," Javier admitted to T'Shaini before he realized he was back on the Hawking, looking upon her kind, understanding face. It just happened again. he thought but continued to speak, feeling the need to tell her what he had been keeping inside, locked away from everyone.

"I've allowed regret and grief to overcome me. And I kept these feelings hidden away from you, partly because I didn't want to worry you, but also because I didn't want to be another burden," Javier told T'Shaini as his hands covered hers. "I felt powerless to help Crewman Pierce even though I believed he was innocent. In some way I almost feel like I let him go to his death. Then there's Bilara Wakeel, her death magnified my failure to protect the engineers. I don't know what to do, I second guess myself after every decision, asking if I'm making the correct choice or if I'm acting in a manner that could lead to another crewmember's death."

JP with Tee and Okichi (Japanese for T'Shaini ;) )
Originally Posted 12/13/08 by Javier Costala

Feeling the warmth of his hands over hers, his heart racing beneath her palm, T'Shaini breathed in his release before speaking. "Although there is much in this life that we have control over by our actions, we cannot dictate the end results. You did what you thought was correct in every instance, you made your decisions with care and feeling. That things did not go as you or I would have them does not place the blame on you. I am glad that you care, I believe that your greatest strength is your capacity for caring. How many more could have died if you did not? But you cannot allow that caring and that sense of duty to cripple you, it is unfair…to yourself and those that serve under you."

Javier listened carefully to T'Shaini's advice. It was a beacon of hope and guidance to which he could aspire, and from her counsel, draw strength and wisdom. "Soldiers have to soldier on," he said, remembering the anecdote from his days with the SFMC. He finally understood the full meaning of the phrase. He inhaled deeply. "I should have spoken to you sooner," Javier said in a low tone, "I apologize for not sharing my concerns with you, as it affects not only our professional lives, but our private one as well.

Pulling her hand from his she moved into his arms with an internal feeling of gratification on how well they 'fit'. "You spoke to me when you were ready to, I cannot ask for more. I lean on you so much that I am glad you saw fit to use me in a similar fashion."

"I am learning to lean on you," Javier said, embracing T'Shaini so that the two of them were very close. He had only to lean in slightly before his lips brushed against hers. The kiss was full and passionate but cut short when he remembered what had prompted their talk and the brief vision before opening up. "There is something more," he whispered to T'Shaini, keeping the intimacy of the moment by remaining close to her. "I've started to dream or hallucinate about Japanese people."

"Yes!" Inappropriate response. "Well, what I mean to say is…so have I, not of Japanese people, but hallucinations or visions of a sort, as have two of our newer crewmembers." T'Shaini squeezed his arms eagerly. "Yours is a corroboration that these events are not just random incidents."

"And your admission means I'm not going crazy," Javier answered excitedly, then quieted down to add, "or that some of us are going crazy..but we are not seeing about the same things. What was your hallucination about?"

"I seem to be transported into a Shakespearean tragedy, I am attempting to aid a young woman who, according to the plot, goes mad and drowns." A slight wince flashed across her face. "I have not had much success as of yet." Hallucination or no, I hope I have another chance. "Oh, and I do not know if this 'counts' as mine or not, but Matt Hudson seems to have created a strong enough image of his lost child that not only did his roommate see and speak to her…but I did as well."

"Are we the only three or four that have had hallucinations? And if so, what common thread binds us together? Who's Cadet Hudson's roommate?" Javier asked, the questions flooding from his mouth.

"Simba Wekesa, he left right before you arrived." T'Shaini leaned against the arm of the couch, her fingers lightly tapping in thought. "Common thread…they are new to the ship so that narrows down quite a bit, though we have no idea who else may have been affected. So without more information it may be fruitless to attempt a hypothosis."

"Wekesa is one of the new engineers that came aboard at DS9," Javier said, "and Hudson joined the ship there too. Could the cause have come from DS9? Maybe we took on something besides new crew?"

"That is a possibility." She rose again and pulled Javier away from the sleeping child on the couch. "Perhaps we should endeavor to speak with Simba and Matt and see what we may ascertain…although in Matt's case we must be careful, he is not aware that what he is seeing is not real."

"Then I will leave that task to you," Javier told T'Shaini, "you have far more tact than I do. I can speak to Cadet Wekesa though, engineers are used to having things laid out in a straightfoward manner." He glanced over at Lia then said, "I'll take her to Mustapha and Katie's on my way to Engineering, I'm sure Eli won't mind having a friend stay over." Turning back to T'Shaini, his hand gently cupped her face before he pressed his lips to her's once more. "Thank you again, thou art both wise and beautiful," Javier said as he winked at his Vulcan lady.

T'Shaini bit her tongue and appreciated the line with the sentiment it was intended…and not as it was delivered (or close enough) in Midsommer…the fairy queen bewitched into falling for an ass professing her love. She watched with a quiet joy as he scooped up Lia and headed toward the door. Javier would speak to Simba and she would approach Matt, though how that was to be done, she had no idea. To enlighten him was to crush him. Though it was her vocation to guide the crew through their darker times, and she knew that in order to move forward you must accept the present, the thought of taking away his child was an unpalatable one. Also, she must acknowledge that to understand where the visions originated may be to end them…and T'Shaini found that she was not quite ready to face that either.

Other half of the JPness of Javitee!
Originally Posted 12/13/08 by T'Shaini

The Snow Queen Variations
::The Winter Palace::

“What will happen to Ben… I mean, the monster?” Jenny was asking as the storm deposited the couple in a truly alien structure. “Was he hurt?”

“Not at all,” he assured with an easy smile, “though it is very forgiving of you to care.”

“I don’t care,” she protested mildly, distracting herself from the internal insinuation that her response was a lie by looking at her new surroundings. “It’s very… white,” Jenny Anderson, staring at the glacial construction, commented. From somewhere deep within she recalled a thing called 'etiquette' which had been touted by someone called ‘Mom’ and that it required some form of address about another person’s home.

“It is,” he agreed, leading her into the great hall, which was little more, nor less, than an ice cavern, the pillars looking as if they’d been grown rather than built. Turning towards the mortal, he lifted up her red-gold tresses and admired the heat of the locks over his own, snowy fingers. “An apt background to your vibrant color,” he said.

Jenny barely noticed the intimate gesture. Her senses, like her sensibilities, had gone numb and she was fast becoming little more than an automaton, breathing still, but almost empty of all that had made her… herself.

“What should I do, now that we’re here?”

Almost empty. It seemed there was still, ingrained deeply enough that the ice had yet to touch it, the knowledge of a job needing to be done.

The prince seemed taken aback, “Do? Nothing, Jenny, nothing at all. What is to be done in these lands, I and my mother see to. You have only to be,” he leaned in close and, while unable to lay a kiss upon her without it causing the young woman’s death, sent the slightest shivering breath over her lips, bringing a sudden gasp and a further chilling of the soul. “You are all that was needed,” he whispered like the soughing wind across the frozen earth, black eyes parsing her features, “to make this place complete… a maid of ice you are and shall be so…”

“Forever,” the word fell from her frost-touched lips.

“Forever,” he agreed, taking again her hand, “Come… I have just the room for you…”

Jenny followed and if there was, somewhere deep, deep within which cried out to look back, all the way back, it was as a small, fragile thing in the palm of winter’s hand.

Originally Posted 12/15/08 by Jenny Anderson

Ben struggled to his feet, his body contorting because his frozen side held him down. He looked down in surprise to find that his arm seemed to be made of ice and Pierce could barely lift the appendage. The engineer staggered after the whirling snow storm which had devoured Jenny and the man whose touch was like liquid nitrogen. His skin continued to freeze as Ben tried to follow the blur of snow and ice that was moving quickly across the snowy landscape. Pierce felt the ice complete its progress as it froze his chest and worked its way down his legs. He didn't have the strength to carry on and stood rooted to the ground.

"Jenny!" Ben yelled into the distance before his mouth was covered by the glistening substance. Small cracks began to appear in what was quickly becoming the ice statue of Ben. The cracks shot out making jagged lines across his form. A loud crack preempted him shattering into hundreds of ice fragments.

He awoke with a start. Another loud crack caused Ben to look down, expecting to see one of his limbs fall off just as it had in his dream. Instead of being covered in ice, he was laying in a bed made of the furs of various animals and he was warm. The crackling noises did not stop and Pierce let his eyes run over the interior of the hut until it came to rest on a roaring fire. Over the fire hung a large metal teapot, suspended on an iron hook that protruded from the wall of the stone fireplace.

The hut was round, made of stone and had a large wooden door. It had windows but they were covered by heavy oaken shutters with animal skins stretched from the corners of the frames to further insulate the interior. There was another bed on the opposite side of the hut, it too was covered in furs but was empty. The walls were devoid of decoration and only had a few shelves on which sat various canned foods. There were two wooden chairs in the room but no table. Ben looked up at the various furs that hung from the rafters until the hut's door opened and a tall hairy man stepped into the room then quickly shut the door behind him. Ben felt a sudden chill as the cold weather found its way into the warm refuge.

"So yer awake," the large man said as he hefted a huge axe he had been balancing on his shoulder and leaned it against the wall, "bloody foolish thing ta go walkin' about withou proper clothes."

"I didn't exactly have much time to plan.." Ben began to explain.

"An' touchin' the snow prince, thas about the daftest thing ta do afta runnin' about withou warm clothes," the man continued as he moved over to one of the shelves and pulled two cups from it. "Wha do you think you were doin'?"

"Snow Prince? You mean that guy whose touch felt like an iceblock?"

"Thas right," the man replied as he grabbed the teapot with his bare hand and began pouring a dark colored liquid into the two cups, "You mus be daft ta go touchin' im. He'll freeze the blood in yer body quicker than any storm. Lucky fer you Otto was aroun."

"Who's Otto?" BHP inquired, taking one of the steaming mugs that the man offered him. He held the mug so he could smell its contents, which had a strong pungent aroma. Ben sipped the liquid cautiously. It was similar to coffee and warmth flooded through his body with each drink he took from the cup.

"Otto? He's the bloody bird tha saved yer life. Annoying he is, but helpful at times." The man took a seat in one of the rough hewn chairs. "What were you doing touchin tha prince?"

"He has someone that I care about," Ben answered, holding the cup in both hands as the fragrant steam rose from the dark liquid. "I don't know how she met him..I'm guessing it has something to do with our armory turning into a forest. But she's..she acts like she's..Jenny's not herself when she's around him. She doesn't know me."

"An why would she? She's under his control. Thas the Snow Queen's magic it is," the woodsman explained, "She's tha ruler of the forest and he's her son. Tha longer yer Jenny is with im, the more she'll want te stay with im."

"I have to get Jenny free from him then," Pierce resolved as he drank the last of his coffee. He stood to his feet and handed the man his cup. "Thank you for your help. I can't waste anymore time here though." Ben explained as he moved to the door.

"Hold on young feller, don' be daft, yer not goin far withou proper clothes," the woodsman protested as he stood to his feet. He began to pull the furs from the rafters and now Ben could see that they were not just furs but clothing, warm and snug clothing that could fight the chill of the Snow Queen's winter. "Ere take these warm things," the man said as he handed Ben a shirt, pants and coat. "The Queen's palace is north of here, my door faces south. Otto can help you find tha way. Don' look fer im, he'll find you."

"Thanks," Ben said as he took the warmer clothing. He donned each piece, sliding it over his uniform then shrugged into the large coat.

"Take this too," the woodsman said, handing the young man a package of food. "An listen to Otto, he knows abou tha Queen and her boy."

"Thank you again," BHP said as he stepped out of the hut. It was still cold but not frigid. The engineer set out walking north as the day waned. After walking a short distance a familiar sound came to his ears and Ben knew that Otto had found him.

" adventure, and an adventurer and a damsel in distress..ohboyohboy."

- The Woodsman

Featuring NPC BHP
Originally Posted 12/15/08 by Javier Costala**

A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows

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