Stay On Target

USS Constitution
Bridge

The negotiations were souring quickly and Chuck had to work hard not to laugh because he barely had to get involved! The Altern PooPoo… or whatever the Dosi’s name was… had walked into the dealings with a lot of attitude and Darhk’s native smarminess was off the charts. The Betazoid was leaning back, enjoying the show when two more officers entered the bridge… Security… feh. He stared at the viewscreen, seemingly engrossed in the talks but in reality he was picking up the latest news.

Only nineteen minutes remaining to Benjamin’s deadline the linear Tenanji’s thoughts practically sliced the ether. Chuck idly wondered if his unseen cohorts would really kill the teenager if Constitution didn’t get it in gear.

Better get a move on, Chuck thought before he took another dive.

If anyone can get Jen to face her memories, it’s T’Shaini… we need to know who’s responsible. Jameson, playing the f**cking father bear… but Chuck doubted anyone could ever get through to Anderson’s memories of their time together, at least, not while he was on board. Once he’d been extracted, however…

Face it, he told himself, you should have left her to die in that crate. But fact was, the young woman’s fear-laced innocence was like a drug and he’d been unable to resist tasting it, again and again… even now he had trouble not diving back into her thoughts, finding some as-yet untouched portion of her past to sully…

He pulled it together before he could get distracted. A guy had to have his priorities, after all and the sad fact was, Jenny Anderson couldn’t be left to finger Chuck for his little forays. Folks got real touchy about that sort of thing… fatally touchy on some planets. He leaned over Dahrk’s shoulder, “It looks like you’ve got this well in hand,” he said encouragingly, “and I left a project half-completed in my quarters. I should get…”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” the Ferengi waved the annoying man away before addressing his opponent, “We are NOT going to chop up a historical artifact so your station can have a nacelle…”

What with the negotiations and the security officers reporting and all the worries over the captain, no one noticed the quiet departure of Constitution’s most ebullient
passenger.

Originally Posted 6-28-2008 by Harry Finn


Nordin moved to block the door, “I’m sorry but you have to remain…”

“Why? I mean, this is sickbay… it’s for sick people. I’m not sick; all the owies have been fixed. I’m all better,” Jenny tightened the belt on the robe they’d given her… three or four more layers and she might begin to feel dressed…

“You have amnesia and need to be kept under observation,” Stephanie had on the Stern Face but apparently Anderson, working for Tenanji, was immune to Stern Face.

“Again… why? So you can watch me continue to not remember anything?” Anything useful, that is. Jenny stuffed her hands in the robe’s pockets because she really wanted to wrap her arms around herself and she didn’t think a show of weakness at this point was going to help her cause.

“No, because the person who is responsible for the amnesia is still on the ship, and probably looking for a way to make sure you never remember,” a much deeper voice caused Jen to spin, almost jumping out of her skin. “Lieutenant,” she greeted Darren Hillman a bit breathlessly and, oh, “T’Shaini…” Suddenly, no matter how many times in the past however many hours she’d wished for the counselor’s presence, she felt incapable of going to her or even accepting the kindness in her expression. Shame kept her in place, looking down, avoiding the burden of all those eyes on her…

"Hello Jenny." The counselor said softly, Hillman clearly had not been exaggerating, she was exhibiting almost textbook signs of abuse, clearly far more had occurred than being confined. Stepping forward, she wanted to put her arms around the young girl but knew that was likely unwise, she would wait until Jenny came to her. "If you would excuse us Lieutenant I would like to have some time alone with Jenny." Guiding without touching her, T'Shaini led the way to Jillian's office.

Darren waited just long enough for the women to reach their destination, then followed, stationing himself outside the office entrance. The corridor wasn't busy… most of the crew were at their stations or sleeping which just made his job that much easier. No one was getting into that room without his say so.

Gesturing to the chair opposite the desk, T'Shaini waited for Jenny to seat herself then slid back to sit on top of the desk and fold her legs beneath her. Closing her eyes she took time to ease her presence in the hopes that she could ease the tension so apparent in the young woman across from her. Opening her eyes, the counselor smiled gently at Jenny.

"So," Jen looked away quickly, "how was your trip?"

"Eventful…" Her nose wrinkled at the memory. "More eventful than I would have wished, but it seems to have turned out rather better than we had hoped." I fear we do not have the luxury to dance around this, from what the Lieutenant said. Surveying the broken spirit of the one she knew so well, T'Shaini tucked her hands under her legs to resist reaching out to her. "Can you tell me anything about what has happened while I was away?"

"No," she said quietly, still to the floor, "I mean, I don't… there are flashes," the elevator, the dark… "but I don't even know if they're real." Accepting her own flaws, she finally looked up, "And this is really awful and no one wants to hear it but… I don't want to remember what happened… I'm… afraid."

"Afraid of what?"

"I don't know," the words revealed her desperation, "I just feel… I feel like, like someone, someone's been…" Jen felt her face grow hot and her eyes burning and humiliation all but choking her, "I just… can't."

The Vulcan's eyes narrowed slightly in thought, something sounded…off. "You do not wish to remember, or you cannot?" She unfolded her legs to move from the desk and kneel before the young woman. "Does it feel as if it is being blocked?"

"Oh," Jen tried to still the seemingly endless race of the hamsters in her mind long enough to consider the question but, "How would I know? I mean…" then she thought back to when Jameson had been asking and she'd almost, almost gotten to where… "Oh," she said again but this time it was because, "It's coming back… it's getting dark, again…"

Risking her pulling away T'Shaini laid a soothing hand on the increasingly agitated young woman's knee. "Perhaps, like everything else in this situation, your lack of memory is not your fault. What if whoever imprisoned you is barring you from identifying them?"

It was hard, so hard to stay in the room, to stay with T'Shaini, "What… who could something like that?" she felt it, again, the shivering touch of invisible hands, the shock of blows she didn't remember, "I don't know what to do.. it's hurting…"

"Oh Jenny…" She grasped one of her hands trying to anchor her to the present. "I want to help, we need to find out who did this," Suddenly her eyes opened a little wider. "and I think I have an idea, however, it maybe asking more than you are prepared for, to trust that I would never do anything to hurt you."

God, Jenny, cringing from the sickening strangeness of her own mind, held onto the lifeline of T'Shaini with everything she had left, "It can't be worse than this… it can't…"

Withdrawing the box that had been so reluctantly accepted, T'Shaini removed the two round metallic objects and laid them in the palm of her hand for Jenny to see. "These were given to me by the Dosi after being used on me for my trial. It will allow me into your neural pathways to such an extent, that if I wished to, I could alter what I found. You need to know how dangerous this could be before agreeing" Wrapping the other hand around Jenny's small cold one she continued. "I promise to you that nothing you do not agree to beforehand will be done, but it should allow us to see exactly what was done to you, and by who…" She made sure Jenny was following what she was proposing before relaying the worst. "It also means that you will likely relive the entire experience."

The sudden surge of ink-stained panic almost sent Jenny flying from the room… as it was she found herself standing in the far corner before she even knew she'd moved. F**k you, she told the malevolence in her skull. She couldn't live like this… "Do it," she pointed to the innocuous looking discs, "do it now."

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 6-28-2008 by T'Shaini


"Handcuffs? C'mon fellas, I don't need those wrist bracelets. How am I going to get away from you two bruisers?" BHP protested as the two Klingon security crewmen prepared to escort Pierce to the revamped brig. "It ain't like I'm packing a heater or a shiv." But for all his Iotian logic, the Klingons still cuffed BHP's wrists behind him then marched the engineering recruit out of the conference room. Rather than give up, Pierce set his thoughts to how he would escape the Klingon brothers so he could check in on Jenny Anderson. As far as he could tell, picking up on the conversation whenever his guards rotated, Security didn't have any leads on who had kept the young woman captive. Beyond myself, Ben thought,but that sap is still around waiting to knock her off..there's no way he's leaving her alone to collar him.

They're going to lock you up and throw away the key after today. Ben thought to himself. The idea seemed to come out of the blue and for a moment he was startled by the malevolence with which it had been projected. BHP looked up in time to see the jovial passenger that had been with Hillman when they had arrested him walking by in the opposite direction. The leering smirk on the man's features told Pierce that he was entertained by the engineer's plight.

"Hey, you, wait a minute!" Pierce said, looking over his shoulder at the guy. He tried to turn around but Rah'k gave him a forceful shove forward. "Keep moving!" the Klingon growled. Ben stumbled then regained his balance. "That bimbo was the one who said I.." he started to say but Koll pushed him this time. The engineer fell to the ground. "Lay off that rough stuff will ya?" Pierce said indignantly as he looked up at the two security officers. Rah'k began to growl, a low guttural sound that alerted Pierce enough where he got to his feet and continued walking. "I don't know what bit you two.."

The Brig

Kal-El and Fenton had just finished the modifications to the brig's shielding when a handcuffed BHP and his two guards showed up. Tenanji wanted a place to put BHP and any others that needed looking after so the engineers had returned the brig to service. It had been the site of the historic museum's giftshop but all the trinkets, coffee mugs and red t-shirts bearing the word 'Expendable' had been set aside.

"Hey look at what the cat dragged in," Fenton stated as he shook his head at Pierce. "Or coughed up in you guys' case," he added with a glare at the two Klingons.

"Pierce, I always knew this day would come," Kal-El said, taking a moment to look smug and superior at the same time. "Ah well on to business, security officers you put Pierce in there," he said, indicating the small, bare enclosure that would serve as Pierce's cell. "Then stand over here by this panel and," a look of confusion spread over the petty officer's features "…oh, I can't remember which security code I put in there to activate the barrier..well you both better try your codes." Kal-El shrugged and stepped back to watch as the Klingons pushed BHP into a cell then approached the control panel. Before Rah'k had even entered half of his code the forcefield slammed down!

"Oh no, that will be a problem." Kal-El smirked as he watched the two Klingons gape at the forcefield that surrounded them on all four sides of their tiny energy cell. "It will take at least an hour to fix this," Kowalski said as he detached the control panel from the wall with a swift tug, "maybe two hours now."

Pierce could only stare at his two friends. "You guys are going to get in so much trouble for this.." Koll roared his agreement, while Rah'k cursed Kal-El's treachery.

"Are you still here?" Fenton said as he crossed behind his friend and used a laser arc to slice through the handcuffs. "We know you didn't do it, shit, you were with us most of the time in Engineering, and Astyr can vouch for the times you weren't right?"

"Right," BHP replied, "I wanted her to be safe..so I went to find Jenny..she could still be in danger though."

"Then go keep her safe," Fenton said simply, giving his friend a slight push towards the door. Pierce nodded and with one last glance of thanks left the room at a fast pace.

"And tell her I know about the oatmeal.." Kal-El shouted after Pierce.

Featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce, Fenton Boyce, Kal-El Kowalski and Rak'h and Koll
Originally Posted 6-28-2008 by Javier Costala


The room was plain… the walls of an indistinguishable hue that could have been grey or just as easily some bastard stepchild of beige. Empty of everything but two women, one, dressed in the hated red tunic of the 22nd century, huddled against a bland wall, her hair tangled, her eyes haunted and her arms clutched around her knees. The other remained standing, observing, her demeanor curious but protective. On the wall opposite the two was a door… very ornate for the space… oak carved into twining figures; countless couples interlaced in various postures of affliction and set off with a brass handle in the shape of some ancient and lascivious beast. If malice had been an architect, this is the door it would have designed.

T'Shaini forced herself to walk up to the door, drinking in the aura surrounding it before attempting anything. Manufactured, so I was correct…poor Jenny. The thought had her looking over to her huddled figure. We need to get through this. Her hand reached for the handle and just as her fingers wrapped around it a jolt sent her flying across the 'room'. "Ouch." She said with an ironic smile at Jenny. "I should have known it was not going to be that simple."

Wide eyes never once left the portal only six meters distant. "The monster lives in there," she explained. "It only opens when he wants it to," unable to help herself, Jenny began to rock back and forth as she spoke, "and every time he leaves he takes more of me with him." The same wide eyes finally turned towards the visitor, "Soon, I'll be gone."

The Counselor's heart clenched at her words, then her jaw tightened. "Not anymore, I am here now and no one will take you away from me."

"I don't think you can stop him and," turning her attention back to the door, "he might hurt you, too."

"He can try." Partially to reassure the young woman and well, partially to assure herself that she was up to the task, T'Shaini spoke in a bolder tone than her true certainty dictated. Standing between it and the young woman the determined counselor faced the door once again. "Have you heard anything specific before it opens, Jenny?"

"Whispers," the soft answer, "so many whispers, so many voices…"

If only I had a phaser. Well, why not? This was not reality. Hoping that will alone would be enough, T'Shaini looked down and to her gratification, there was indeed a phaser in her hand. "Stay behind me." Aiming at the handle of the door, she amped up the setting of the phaser and fired. As the energy bolt began to ricochet around the room she dove to cover Jen. "Sorry, sorry…bad idea."

Jen peeked around the protection T'Shaini tried to offer, "Maybe you should go now," she offered, "before he figures out you're here."

"No." T'Shaini held Jenny's shoulders for emphasis. "No matter what happens, I am not going to leave you." She looked into the eyes of the fearful young woman and something clicked. "Jenny," She almost whispered. "have you ever tried to open the door?"

The look the girl gave her pretty much said it all.

Nodding to herself she stood, helping the girl up with her. "I think that may be the point." T'Shaini cupped her hands around Jenny's face. "I cannot even begin to fathom how difficult this is going to be for you, but I need you to try to open the door. I will be with you every step of the way."

This is T'Shaini, this is your friend… she wouldn't lie to you… Hesitantly, Jenny took one step, then one more but the third was tougher. She wouldn't but I bet HE would…

The Counselor stepped next to her and grasped her hand. "You can do this Jenny."

But before Jenny could reply a distant muttering, as of dozens of voices whispering at odds filtered from the other side of the room, "He's coming," the younger woman started to pull back, eyes locked on the living shadow that spilled from beneath the door, reaching across the floor until it closed around… "No…"

Grasping her hand more firmly, T'Shaini spun in front of her to draw her forward. "I would give anything if I could take this burden from you Jenny, but I cannot." Her stomach rolled with the anguish she could feel shuddering in waves off of her charge. "I will not leave you, but I cannot fight this fight for you." Whatever it was seeping into the room began to twist itself around her leg like a tentacle, she could feel it sliding up her leg and repressing a shiver continued to coax Jenny toward the door.

Four meters to go… three and a half… halfway across the room but just as the two took the step that crossed the mid-line of the strange space the… thing… which had latched onto T'Shaini burst into new and virulent life. Rather than clinging passively it exploded, a thousand tendrils of pitch wrapped around the struggling counselor, dragging her away from Jenny, down to the floor where, in moments it seemed she would be suffocated. Jenny froze, horrified as her friend was subsumed and suddenly the room was filled with a laughter which mocked T'Shaini's desperate attempts to free herself.

Do the job a new voice filtered through the horror. Jenny looked around, "Dad?" she knew that voice, above and beyond all the others. Jen, Seth Anderson's gruff tones beat back at the sick chortles, You know what to do… just, go on and do it…

Jenny, conditioned by years of her father's mantra, was already turning back towards the door, towards the source of her friend's suffering and as she turned she became once again the security officer from the Hawking and it was the black and grey clad Crewman Anderson who raced at the door and with one very focused kick, sent the wooden monstrosity splintering.

The black receded, sucked back into the portal from which it had come but replacing that horror, racing out to surround the girl who'd set them free, were the images, hundreds of them, it seemed, and in each one…

The murk enveloping her disappearing with a whoosh left T'Shaini breathless. She did it. Her joy rapidly turning to fear as she watched Jenny writhe in pain on the floor as all her memories came crashing in on her. Crawling across the room she wrapped her arms around Jen hoping to forestall the convulsing. "You did it, you did it." She kept repeating as she rocked her gently.

"Did you see… did you see?" Weeping now, as she was once again party to the sickly visceral revisions of her life, Jenny clutched at the arms around her, "It was him… he did it… he's…"

"Here!" the chipper greeting cut through Jenny's sobs as the door to the office slid aside, revealing the towering form of Hillman which then dropped to the floor to reveal the incongruously deadly…

"Chuck…" The genial man who always had some 'helpful' suggestions. The ubiquitous caricature of an all around good guy. T'Shaini was stunned.

The phaser-toting Chuck smiled and locked the door behind him, casually kicking Hillman's inert body in the process, "Never underestimate the power of being underestimated," he advised the Vulcan.

JP with T'Shaini, featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 6-28-2008 by Harry Finn


:: USS Constitution ::
:: Bridge ::

“Done!” The word from Plallu brought about a whoosh of released breath from Nils. The deal was done…finally.

“Done and done,” cooed Dahrk. The Ferengi turned to face the first officer and winked as if he’d just made the deal of the century. Nils wasn’t sure why. The bargain may very well have been the nail on his career’s coffin. But there were larger problems to deal with.

“I’m transmitting our data now, Lt. Torrik,” informed the Dosi station administrator. “We’ll expect delivery of payment within the hour.”

Nils nodded at the screen then turned back to Jezeera, giving her the ‘cut channel’ look. After taking only a brief moment to digest the gravity of their situation, he rose and stepped up to the science station. “Dahrk, I appreciate your efforts,” he tossed over his shoulder. And that was the last he was going to lament their arrangement with the Dosi. He let it go.

“Data stream transmission initiated, sir,” Jezeera called out. “I’m piping it directly into Science…”

“Let’s have a look,” the first officer said dropping over the station’s manual viewer. Without waiting for the transmission to complete, Nils called up the Constitution’s sensor logs and began time sequencing what they had with the Dosi readings. Once they were fully integrated and cross referenced he began analysis.

“A ship,” Nils said with finality. At least they could rule out any foul play by the Dosi. “Tetryon emissions surging off the port bow at the time of the Captain’s abduction make that abundantly clear… This is an older cloak model,” and if we’d been on Hawking we’d have seen it before it dropped out of warp… Not for the first time on this Prophet forsaken race Nils wished they were aboard the reliable Intrepid class vessel. “The transporter signature indicates Breen origin…”

For the first time Nils realized he was reporting to himself. O’Keefe was still down in engineering as far as he knew and there were no senior staff on the bridge. His role on the bridge had always been data interpreter and solution seeker. Never before had his analysis been left solely in his hands. He surveyed the bridge anxiously and made eye contact with Tenanji. He’ll do…

“I think we can adjust our equipment to cut this cloak in two… Our navigational sensors actually work to recognize and steer us around dangerous particulate matter. If we can reprogram them to recognize Tetryons as dangerous particles we can triangulate the field emitter using some simple trigonometry.”

The truth of the matter was that the first officer was already making the necessary adjustments. He just needed to speak it. He just needed some affirmation.

“So you believe we are being ‘stalked’ by a Breen vessel?” Tenanji’s icy monotone was affirmation enough.

“No,” Nils answered as his fingers deftly activated century old controls. “I believe someone using a Breen transporter and an old Romulan cloaking device is ‘stalking’ us. There’s not enough data to determine who they are.”

“At least, not enough sensor data. There is a wealth of data we’ve left untouched up to this point…”

He didn’t need to be more specific. Nils got the reference immediately. “Good point,” the young Bajoran conceded. He quietly finished his calibrations as he considered how to proceed. “Tenanji, you will find that data in my officer safe in my office… Clearance Code Torrik Epsilon Four Two Kappa… Please examine it and let me know what you find… As well as your interpretations of what you find… Activating nav sensors…”

The Bajoran hovered over the science display for a moment when suddenly klaxons once again blared, filling the bridge with a violent cacophony. “Reading a vessel twenty thousand meters aft, on a parallel course… CUT THOSE DAMN ALARMS!”

The quiet that followed deafened the worried First Officer. “Hail them,” he called to Jezeera as he hop stepped to the Captain’s seat. “No belay that!”

“You don’t want to tip your hand,” Tenanji said with a hint of warning in his voice.

“They don’t know we know they’re there…” He tossed an anxious glance to the acting Security Chief. “But the question is…What in the Prophet’s name are they doing there?”

Originally Posted 7-1-2008 by Torrik Nils


-Main Engineering-
-USS Constitution-

"Tehamia give me a status report and where is everybody?"

"Chief, thank goooooo…" Tehamia turned to find the Chief Engineer shirtless and painted from waist up with bright red ink that twisted into a number of tribal patterns. "Uhh..?" escaped from the ensign's mouth before she could catch herself.

"Dosi artwork," Javier explained then grinned and said, "looks pretty cool doesn't it?"

"That's not how I would describe it..Sir," a female officer in science blue took the opportunity to say.

"Oh? Who are you again? And when did my engineers start wearing blue?" Javier asked the woman. He was a little annoyed by the woman's tone. Sialuk had chosen most of the patterns that were inked on his upper body and he had become attached to the designs.

"Lt. O'Keefe, I came down to supervise the repair of the internal communications," the woman replied, "and I'm not an engineer.."

"Are the communications repaired?" Javier inquired.

"Yes, Ensign Tehamia and I have just finished.."

"Then you are dismissed Lieutenant," Javier responded as he held out the recorder he had been passed on the station, "see that Lt. Torrik gets this, it has vital information pertaining to Captain Benjamin."

If looks could kill or mangle, Javier would have been subjected to both. With a scowl that needed no verbal explanation, O'Keefe snatched the device and flounced out of Main Engineering. "She was helpful Chief," Tehamia said apologetically as she watched Jada leave the room.

And kind of bitchy.. Javier thought to himself. "What about that sit-rep?"

Tehamia launched into the current situation, including the communication's repairs, Pierce's troubles, the disappearance of Jenny Anderson and then her discovery, the kidnapping of Captain Benjamin and lastly the use of Boyce and Kowalski to reconstruct the brig. Finally she said, "And the Dosi negotiations, did they go well?"

The Chief Engineer thought for a moment then said, "Yes, I believe that they did."

"Excuse me Ensign," the ancient voice of Ms. Minerva Cutsforth suddenly cut through the air, "I was told that you did not return the ship's tricorder, that you borrowed, to the archives." She lifted her nose as she realized the cretin wasn't in uniform but rather had some primitive body paint covering his torso. His improper behaviour knows no limits, but what did I expect from a person that consorts with that Vulcan chippie?

"Riiight, well the thing is..I traded it for this wonderful Dosi artwork," Javier explained, "I think it was a worthwhile trade..don't you.."

"WHAAATT?!?"

Originally Posted 7-2-2008 by Javier Costala


"Never underestimate the power of being underestimated."

The cocky voice of Chuck snarking at T'Shaini made Jen dive further into the Counselor's protective embrace. The part of her that remembered she was a security officer tried to step up, push towards caring for Hillman, looking for a weapon… anything but cowering like a child, eyes shut tight because everyone knows if you can't see the monsters, they can't see you and shaking from buffeting of her newly-freed memories.

"I will be sure to make a note of it." Alright, the defiance was a bit misplaced, but T'Shaini thought sure if they stalled long enough Hillman would awake. She scanned the room looking for something she could use against him, but feared leaving Jenny alone.

"Poor, lonely Jenny, I just couldn't leave without saying goodbye to you one last time," Chuck said before grabbing the girl's arm and pulling her towards him. The Vulcan made as if to interfere but in his other hand Chuck wielded the idiot marine's phaser. "Back up there Girlie," he snarled, sending out a wave of violent telepathy as he brandished the phaser in the Vulcan's direction. "Get that bald nit-wit who's playing Captain to drop the shields or Jenny here gets to spend some more time reliving her youth..with me."

T'Shaini's vision blurred by the sudden pain in her head she squinted at Chuck while she fumbled to try and find her communicator. Do not let the anger show. "What will happen once the shields are down?"

"I will cease to grace this rust bucket with my presence," Chuck leered then turned to Jenny and spoke in an oily tone. "That makes you sad doesn't it? Don't worry, I will treasure the time we spent together Jenny." He sent out another blast of telepathic images just because the damn Vulcan was taking too long with her communicator.

Jenny's knees buckled as, once more she felt the wet grass in the cemetery, where she'd huddled after Harry… no…Chuck had… A wave of nausea swept over the Vulcan as the images of how Chuck had twisted and warped Jenny's past flooded into her head. Shaking hands finally grasping the communicator she called the bridge.

=/\=T'Shaini to Lieutenant Torrik.=/\=

=/\= Go ahead, Counselor, =/\= replied Nils, his voice obviously strained.

=/\=There is a situation in sickbay, two hostages have been taken and he has made a request that the shields be dropped so that he can transport off the ship.=/\=

No response. Silence permeated the air until finally, =/\= T'Shaini, who has taken hostages? =/\= His tone was incredulous.

She had been dreading this…is he going to believe me? =/\=Nils, it is Chuck. He has Jenny, he was the one responsible for her abduction, and I would assume only to cover other illicit activities on board.=/\= There was another moment of silence then she almost whispered. =/\=He has Jenny.=/\=

Another moment of silence passed, but it didn't last as long as the first. =/\= Shields coming down now… =/\= His words sounded like he was pronouncing a death sentence.

=/\=Nils, thank you.=/\= The communicator dropping to the floor, T'Shaini reached her hand out for the glassy-eyed young woman.

"Thank you Counselor," Chuck said in a tone of heartfelt appreciation before he levelled the phaser and shot the Vulcan point-blank. He sneered as she crumpled to the floor. "Vulcans, they think they are so superior; who's the superior one now Counselor?" He shoved Jenny towards a corner and picked up T'Shaini's communicator. =/\=Don't feel so glum Captain Torrik, instead of sitting around practicing phrenology you should get out and go see Commander Munro. I know I will think about her..oh yes, I took a trip around in your thoughts too. Oh and before I go, the Prophets were idiots.=/\= he tossed the communicator on the deck and looked over at Jenny Anderson. "Parting is such sweet sorrow," Chuck said as he set the portable tricorder he had carried with him the entire journey. It registered that the shields were down. "Perhaps I should take you with me though, the trip will be long and Nathan Benjamin doesn't give the impression of being a great conversationalist," Chuck said as an after-thought, reaching for the young woman as he activated the timed transporter device.

"No…" she tried to pull away but there was no place left to go…

Hearing that one, plaintive denial, Darren Hillman, forgotten on the floor, woke from the heavy stun with an instinctual response, sweeping his legs towards the sound of distress, he took the Betazoid's legs out from under him as the Marine used the momentum to bring himself to his feet. Still on auto-pilot he swept the girl behind him with his left hand while the right drew and tossed the k-bar always secured at his back… directly at Chuck's blackened heart…

"Dammit," he swore, as the blade pierced an already discorporate Chuck.

"****ing Marine!!" Chuck yelled out in rage before his molecules were sent out on a stream of light.

Let's see, there was T'Shaini and Nils, and then there was Chuck, who was Javi and Jenny and Hillman who were Harry… and the Garden Gnome on the desk, who was played by himself…

Originally Posted 7-2-2008 by Harry Finn


-Sickbay-
-USS Hawking-

Benjamin Hyde Pierce took the cue from Nordin, and used the metallic stand which was usually reserved for medical instruments, to bash down the locked door of the CMO's office. He knew that Jenny, T'Shaini and a possibly comatose Hillman were in the office being held by the corpulent passenger known as Chuck. The Iotian had armed himself with a phaser after one of the medical had told him the high-pitched whine of phaser shots could be heard from the office's interior. The door gave way on the second hit. They just don't make 'em like they used to? Pierce thought before prying the door open.

Phaser in hand, Ben was faced by Hillman. "Jenny?" he asked the marine, going numb when he couldn't find her with his eyes. Hillman moved to the side and Pierce released a breath when he realized that she had been crouching behind the large marine. "Jenny? Are you okay?" he asked, realizing how stupid the question sounded but he couldn't think of anything else to say.

"T'Shaini," she whispered, crawling towards her unconscious friend. "I don't… is she…" Everything the counselor had done for her, and Jenny had just stood there while that bastard shot her… while he… hurt her… "I'm so sorry," she said, avoiding Ben's eyes… she couldn't look at him, now. It was wrong. Chuck was gone but he'd made everything wrong.

Bramley and Nordin pushed past BHP and began to tend to Hillman who looked dazed and T'Shaini who was laying very still on the office floor. "She's alive," Stephanie Nordin announced to the room, "but she needs to be on a biobed. Joseph?"

"It's okay, the lieutenant is suffering from phaser stun," Bramley answered as he patted the tough marine on the shoulder then said, "Drink plenty of fluids and you'll soon be alright big guy." before moving to help the petite Nurse Nordin. Between the two of them the nurses were able to lift the Vulcan to a nearby biobed then went through the drill of checking her vitals and assessing the patient. Pierce moved aside and let the medical staff work, only trying to engage Jenny in conversation once T'Shaini was being treated.

"Jenny, are you okay?" he asked again, stressing his concern. He didn't know why she avoided looking at him.

She couldn't hide from him forever… but did it have to be this soon? Jen had a short reprieve as Hillman came back long enough to retrieve his knife from where it rested in the decking… Jenny found herself staring at the unblooded blade.

"Jenny," the gentle voice of the lieutenant broke through, "If I could have… I should have ended it for you. I wish…" but words failing, and her grey eyes turning away once more, the Marine shook his head and turned to leave but not before giving Pierce a speaking look.

"Brig, right, can I have a minute?" Pierce asked. "Or maybe longer?"

Hillman shook his head, should have spoken louder "I think that's up to her," he said, looking at Jenny who offered the barest of nods. "Just keep the door open," the older man said, "and I'll check on your current disposition." So saying, Darren left the room, looking for fluids, a communicator and maybe a salve for a bitter conscience.

Jen waited until Hillman had left the room before she made herself meet Ben's eyes. "I never thanked you," she managed, "for getting me… out… away from…"

"I should've been there sooner but that drugstore cowboy Garcia wouldn't spill the beans," BHP replied, then added, "until I gave his sore honk a severe twist." The engineer shoved his hands in his pockets feeling out of place among the medical personnel. "I would have like to got my mits on that guy Chuck, he framed me for..well, for what he did." There was no change in his pockets. Nothing to nervously jingle. "Jenny..would..can we go bowling soon?" Pierce blurted out. "I mean when you feel better.."

Just hearing Chuck's name was enough to send her into a sickening dive and, bless him, there was BHP, trying to make it all normal. "I don't think so," she said, "I mean… I don't think I can feel better… I just," she realized that her cheeks were wet, "I"m sorry, I am but I… I got broke and I can't…" she wrapped herself more closely in the pathetic robe and turning away from his concern.

"Can we go even if you don't get better?" Pierce asked. "I think this will be my last cruise with the Hawking crew..maybe my last one on any ship unless it's a transport to the penal colony." He tried to make the joke as cheerful as possible. "I want to spend time with you before I go.." Ben reached out cautiously and softly patted her shoulder. "I won't let some bastard spoil that," he said resolutely.

"He already did," she said, ducking away from his touch, "Chuck… he," she raised a hand to her temple, "In here… over and over and over… he spoiled me. Do you see?" she asked, "When he was inside me… he was you… he was you and Nate and… and Uncle Harry and…"

Pierce looked away from her as he finally realized the complete sickness that was Chuck and what he had put Jenny through all those hours she was locked inside the crate in lower cargo. "When I found you, what led me to you, was because you kept saying, 'it's not real'. I heard you saying that over and over again," Ben said. He looked back at her. "I can't change my appearance. He stole that. But I won't ever hurt you. And you knew that..you know that." The crewman sighed. "What can I do?"

"Turn back time?" she asked hopelessly, eyes skimming the room just to be looking at anything but him. All she wanted was to be left alone… to hide… to do the job. Jen's gaze froze… do the job… then she walked over to BHP, leaned down and picked up Chuck's tricorder, dropped when Hillman had knocked him flat. "Have Chief Petty look at this?" she suggested, dropping it into Pierce's shocked grasp. "It was his… Chuck's." Jenny shook her head, backing away, "Maybe it has something…. something about the Captain or your arrest or… something."

"I don't care about this right now," Pierce said, looking at the piece of technology for a moment. "I care about you." There, he had said it, it had taken all that time just to say those four words. Why didn't I tell her sooner? Before that rat..no he would have twisted that too. But now it didn't seem to matter much what he said, Jenny's body language spelled it out clearer than spoken words. She's not interested because all you'll ever do is remind her of Chuck. "I'm going now. You won't have to think about him once I've left. I'll be around if you need..I'll be around," Ben told Jenny then turned and left the office. Outside he found Hillman waiting, Pierce handed the marine his phaser and the tricorder. "Chuck left this, it might have something about Captain Benjamin on it." The crewman shrugged and glanced back at the office, then said, "I'm going to the brig. I'll be there for the rest of the trip." BHP started walking, he didn't need the marine officer to go with him. Situation Normal All ****ed Up he thought out in the corridor.

"Hang on, Pierce," the lieutenant's voice halted the engineer's progression. Hefting the now-activated tricorder, he added, "we should talk."

"Maybe later," BHP replied, "I don't so much feel like talking now lieutenant." He continued on the path to his destination.

"Not even if the topic is the guy who hurt her… and the people who put him here?" He hadn't managed to kill Chuck, but Darren would be damned if he'd just let it go.

Pierce stopped but didn't turn back to face the marine. "I ain't Security, Lieutenant, I'm an Engineer, hell I'm not even that anymore.."

"Uh huh," the Marine shook his head and began to turn away, "Gotta say, I'm a bit surprised… all you went through for that girl… breaking custody twice, tracking Garcia, pulling her out of that f**king box, breaking down a door… none of that says 'quitter' to me." He headed back for sickbay, thinking he may as well check on the young woman in question, "Guess I was wrong."

"Guess you were," Ben said before continuing down the corridor. He wasn't a marine either, so that 'god, corps, honor & duty' crap didn't work on him anymore either.

I care about you. Jenny stared at the space where he… Ben… had been standing. "I know," she said to the empty, "he told me."

JP featuring NPC's Benjamin Hyde Pierce, Jenny Anderson and Darren Hillman
Originally Posted 7-3-2008 by Javier Costala


~ Earlier ~

:: USS Constitution ::
:: Bridge ::

Finally things felt as if they were moving in a more manageable direction. The crisis had not passed, but there were options. That made the current state of affairs an improvement over just a few minutes before.

“I’m working on a way to completely penetrate that cloak,” Nils muttered, his hands furiously sliding over the console. “If I can find a way to get a decent scan on their vessel we may be able to prepare a precision strike on their non-vitals…”

Tenanji stood over his shoulder, having yet found the time to retrieve the tricorder locked away in Nils’ safe. “I could prepare a boarding party and put together a rescue team. Assuming you can pinpoint the Captain’s location on board that ship, the particulars would be very cut and dry.”

“Locating a Borg among pure organics should be relatively simple…”

=/\=T'Shaini to Lieutenant Torrik.=/\= The ship’s counselor’s voice cut through the discussion like a knife. Something in her tone turned the Bajoran’s blood cold.

=/\= Go ahead, Counselor, =/\= The strain in his voice was obvious, though he tried to hide it.

=/\=There is a situation in sickbay, two hostages have been taken and he has made a request that the shields be dropped so that he can transport off the ship.=/\=

The puzzle formed in the scientist’s mind as he heard it. Cognitively it became his everything as the implications behind the Vulcan’s words consumed him. With eyes on Jezeera he made the motion of his thumb cutting his throat. She responded immediately, muting their transmission.

“Get a team down there,” the First Officer hissed at Jameson. The man wasted no time and was gone. If things went wrong there needed to be a team in place. The usually emotion soaked Bajoran felt strangely removed from the situation. It was as if he viewed it all from above…like a game of Chess taking shape.

“Anesthezine?” Nils queried, spinning to Tenanji.

The intense security officer shook his head gravely. “This class of vessel is not equipped with that defense measure.”

Nils smashed his hand with the opposite fist and nodded at Jezeera.

=/\= T'Shaini, who has taken hostages? =/\= The disbelief in his voice was quite evident. Their situation had gone from critical to manageable and back to dire before the man could settle into any one mode of operation.

=/\=Nils, it is Chuck. He has Jenny, he was the one responsible for her abduction, and I would assume only to cover other illicit activities on board. =/\= There was another moment of silence then she almost whispered. =/\=He has Jenny.=/\=

It was a plea for life. Whatever the situation down there, Nils could sense the seriousness in his counselor’s voice. Options options options… He glanced around the bridge helplessly. This decision meant life and death and he knew it. Of course dropping the shields could be even more dangerous. If they were left without defense and the mystery vessel fired on them… Nils didn’t want to imagine that outcome.

And he was left with a choice…

=/\= Shields coming down now,=/\= Nils said, pointing at the officer manning the tactical station to add action to his order. His words sounded like he was pronouncing a death sentence.

And as far as Tenanji was concerned, he was, "Are you insane?" he hissed, joining the beleaguered XO, "It is not Starfleet policy to negotiate… Anderson is a member of security, she understa… " but he was interrupted by, of all people, Chuck.

=/\=Don't feel so glum Captain Torrik, instead of sitting around practicing phrenology you should get out and go see Commander Munro. I know I will think about her..oh yes, I took a trip around in your thoughts too. Oh and before I go, the Prophets were idiots.=/\=

The comm went dead.

With a fury and focus he’d yet to unleash on any task in his career, he immediately began stabbing at the science station. Prophets be with me… Chuck… He’d invited the man to the bridge. His own foolishness threatened to draw his attention, but he resolved to succeed in this task. Everything rested on his success.

Immediately he was patched into transporter control. If he could initiate the site to site transport interlock and increase the variable graviton emissions of the ship’s primary energizing coils, then he could trap Chuck’s pattern in the buffer and rematerialize the asshole in the brig. It was actually a relatively simple transport intercept, although he’d never heard of it being attempted before.

And just as he thought his success was guaranteed, the Constitution’s antiquated imaging scanner bogged down on the calculations. What would have taken less than four seconds on Hawking, slowed to an agonizing nine…

And Nils watched his scanners as the energies of an opposing transporter cut through their hull and ripped Chuck from their grasp.

“NO,” he roared and smashed his fist into the console, slicing his knuckles to ribbons in the process.

He failed. At the con of a Star Fleet Starship for the first time and he’d racked up one failure after the next. “Raise shields,” he groaned, his head hanging down over his wrecked station. With his eyes closed and his lip imbedded firmly between his teeth he drew in and released a deep and heavy sigh.

“Lieutenant, it is against Starfleet regulations to…” repeated Tenanji. His slow and icy words riled a storm in the Bajoran First Officer – which he contained behind a scowl. Though, he did silence the security officer with a raised finger and a look. He knew he’d made the wrong call. He also knew Tenanji would have made a better ‘man in charge’ at this point. But he also knew his duty. In a way it was all he could allow himself to know at this moment, for fear of a colossal emotional implosion. His duty was clear and he would fulfill it. Let the consequences of his actions come later… he would fully and willingly accept them. For now, there were other things to do…

The beleaguered Bajoran settled into the Captain’s chair and smashed his feelings deep into his gut.

Featuring the previously recorded vocal talents of Finn, Costala, and T'Shaini reprising there roles from a previous post and Usher Tenanji
Originally Posted 7-3-2008 by Torrik Nils


The Chief Engineer looked down at the deck and scuffed his boot sole on the floor. Cutsforth was just getting really good and worked up and he could tell that she had practiced the speech beforehand, so rather than cut her off, Javier let her continue. Yelling at people about her priceless piece of history is probably the only joy she has. Javier thought as he buffeted the verbal storm.

"And furthermore," Minerva was finally allowed to loose her displeasure, she had no idea where that impudent youngster that called himself a Captain was, but he was no where around to interfere. "your cavalier attitude regarding this glory of the fleet is reprehensible, to exchange a priceless piece of technology for some…some…heathen ornamentation not only bespeaks of your disregard of its importance but a decidedly unbecoming vanity."

"I see," Javier replied then lifted his head up, "you want to touch them don't you? I can't blame you Ms. Cutsforth, they are rather unique. I don't think my girlfriend would appreciate it but I'll let this be our little secret." The engineer looked around as if making sure the coast was clear, then said, "Okay, no one's looking, go ahead."

Cutsforth reared back in horror, snatching her hands behind her back. "How dare you suggest such a thing young man?" At the rate the front of her suit was inflating there was serious risk that the older woman could very well explode. "I have had enough of the filthy insinuations that flow from your puerile brain. I am most seriously displeased and I will certainly report your disgraceful behavior, yours and that of that brazen…"

"Chief! Chief!" the familiar voice of Kal-El Kowalski carried through the room as the husky engineer slid down the ladder to the main deck and jogged over to Javier and Cutsforth. The engineer was breathing hard and had to catch his breath before speaking. "Chief..Lt. T'Shaini was in some kind of situation in sickbay..she's hurt..don't know how badly…I"

There was no need for Kal-El to say anymore as Javier was already gone. Sprinting across the main deck he took the ladder and cleared it in three leaps before running out the door. Dashing down the corridor as he dodged other people, Javier wasn't thinking about how T'Shaini was wounded or why, just that he needed to be at her side. Everything seemed to be in slow motion, doors opened too slowly, the lift crawled to the other deck, people didn't move out of his way in time but finally he burst through the doors of sickbay. The engineer's glance took everything in, Jenny Anderson in a medical robe looking tired and depleted, Hillman talking to her, the busted door of the CMO's office and there, sitting up to argue with Bramley (he could hear T'Shaini telling the male nurse she felt fine) was his Vulcan. Ignoring the stares of the medical staff, Javier strode across sickbay, bare-chested and came to a stop beside Bramley and the argumentative Counselor.

"Can the patient be remanded into my care Nurse Bramley?" Javier asked as he slipped an arm around T'Shaini's back.

"I was just informing Joseph that I am perfectly capable of," With his arm supporting her T'Shaini swung her legs over the side of the biobed and hopped to the floor, and hopefully hid that her knees gave way beneath her by holding on for dear life to Javier while smiling brightly at the nurse. "being released." She then turned to look at Javier, the speed with which he arrived in sickbay spoke multitudes. T'Shaini leaned her head close to his and whispered. "I am fine."

"Be that as it may Lieutenant, I'm taking you off active duty for 24 hours," Bramley said, "I'd like for you to try and rest. You were shot with a phaser on high stun and in some rare cases it can have serious after-effects."

"I'll make sure she gets some rest," Javier replied, smiling at T'Shaini. Then without hesitation, Javier reached down, sliding his hands behind T'Shaini's legs and picked her up. "You're on sick leave as of now," he told her, then with a nod to Bramley set out towards their quarters, only setting her down to press the lift call button, once they were outside of sickbay. "What happened?" he asked once they were alone inside the lift and he was holding her close.

Amused by his penchant for picking her up at every opportunity (she was not a small woman, thank goodness he was strong) T'Shaini kissed his cheek before her expression sobered. "It was Chuck, he was the one responsible for Jenny's disappearance. Also…" As they traveled along the corridors, gathering a range of reactions from 'what the heck?' to women audibly sighing, she recounted what she knew. "Hillman tells me that he was transported out before he could get a shot off. So, he got away." She shuddered lightly in his arms. "Poor Jenny. And we know nothing of what has become of Captain Benjamin?"

He listened to her while navigating the corridors, moving around the gawkers and slipping past the others. "Chuck? The big fat guy who kept giving updates? He seemed so..harmless?" Javier stated as he hugged T'Shaini closer. "Do you think he's connected with Captain Benjamin's disappearance?" the engineer asked as he slowed his pace to allow the door to their quarters to open for them.

Breathing a sigh of relief at finally being home, (well not really, she could not wait to be back in their rooms on the Hawking) T'Shaini shook her head. "I know it is grasping at straws, but it seems to me that it would be more odd if he did not originally remove Jenny because she was getting too close to figuring something out. Be that the Captain's disappearance or something else, I am willing to extrapolate that there is more beneath the surface."

"I think we should save the extrapolations for after your 24 hour sick leave is up," Javier suggested as he carried T'Shaini into the small bathroom and set her down. "I think a nice, relaxing bath is in order for you," he said, then added, "and I could use some help washing off this paint too."

Jenny will need rest before she can speak to me. In the truth of that thought, T'Shaini was able to let go of the need to 'do' and wrapped her arms around Javier's neck. "As much as I enjoy your adornment I find it likely that its removal will bring just as much, if not more pleasure."

JP Tee and the Last of the Mohicans
Originally Posted 7-3-2008 by T'Shaini


.: Unknown Ship | Unknown location :.

Forty six hours was a long time to go without sleep for a normal person. Luckily for the Constitution's teenaged commander, his Borg nanoprobes made regular sleep patterns a luxury. So the eighteen hours he'd been awake on the Constitution, and the twenty eight he'd spent tied up on the vessel that he'd been whisked away to weren't a huge concern. What they really couldn't account for was the lack of food, water, and suitable living conditions his captors had seen fit to endow him with. Since he'd been whisked away from the Constitution, Nathan hadn't eaten, drank, or gone a solid hour without being on the wrong end of a beating.

It was like clockwork. Every hour, on the hour, the loud clanking sound of boots on steel drew closer to him. It took the guard twenty five seconds from the time he heard the first heavy footfall until the door to the room he was held in flew open. Three footfalls later the heavy handed man asked the same question.

"What are the access codes for the device?"

He never had to wait long for his answer. It was always the same.

"Benjamin, Captain Nathan Ryan Service number….."

*THWACK*

A scaly hand (Jem Hadar?) reached out and came into sudden contact with his already bruised face. More dark blood oozed from the wound above his eye. If they weren't covered with a blindfold he'd most likely find the left one swollen shut. The warm feeling trickled down the side of the young officer's neck, staining his already burgundy faux collared undershirt a darker shade of the same.

"You have already told me this Human. I want the access codes."

"And I want to be released and sent back to my ship. Are you gonna do that?" Nathan asked pointedly, tasting not for the first time the blood seeping down his face.

"You will be released when you have supplied us with the information we seek. " his big scaly jailer informed him again. "Now… give me…"

Knowing what was to come, Nathan steeled himself against the searing pain in his head. "Benjamin, Captain Nathan Ryan. Service number…"

As the hand was surely rising for another meeting with the young captain's features, a silky voice cooed from the door, rescuing the teen.

"I'm sure the captain will continue to resist if you remain uncordial Jeh'ephas."

The blow never came. Instead, lighter footfalls echoed around the small room as the jailer's superior almost glided over to stand beside the no doubt towering soldier. "You see Jeh'ephas, humans like young mister Benjamin here do not respond well to your form of discipline." The silky voiced newcomer stepped closer to the chair. "Perhaps you might allow me some time alone with our young guest."

Moments passed, almost a minuted before three heavy footfalls and the slamming of the door behind him informed Nathan of Jeh'ephas' departure. He was alone now with a new person, a Vorta by the sound of her. For a split second Nathan thanked whatever higher power it seemed was looking out for him. Vortas, while infinitely more cunning than their Jem'Hadar minions also had a distinct disadvantage in that they knew they were smarter.

And they rarely resorted to doing their own dirty work.

Satisfied that the two of them were alone, the Vorta turned back toward the teen who sat bound and bloodied before him. Nathan could almost heard his smug smile as the Dominion's puppeteer leered at him. "Mister Benjamin… " He said before Nathan corrected him."

"Captain." He informed her with quiet defiance. The Vorta supressed a chuckle.

"Forgive me Captain. My name is Hyara. I am a faithful servant to the founders…."

"The Dominion?" Nathan thought as the Vorta paused briefly. "Why would…."

"Usually." Hyara ammended. "Today however, I am in the service of a different entity.

"Oh." Nathan muttered, sarcasm spread over the words like Three spread peanut butter, "And I suppose you're going to tell me all about it.. since I'm all tied up and can't get away?"

"No.. unfortunately not." Hyara confessed. "I've read a few of your holonovels, and it seems, stemming from lessons learned therein that divulging one's plans to one's captives normally ends badly for the captor. Thus, I shall tell you only what you need to know." The Vorta paused, taking a moment to lean in close to whisper into the young captain's ear. Standing behind him, she cooed softly "And you will tell me what I want to know."

His curled fist was mere centimeters from Hyara's abdomen. And although his hands were tied securely, his assimilation tubules were knew no such restrictions. In a fraction of a second the snake like tubules had sprung forth, almost involuntarily. Both captor and captive were shocked at the suddenness of it. Seconds later the Vorta was lying on the floor, the tiny machines making their way through her body, inducting her painfully into the service of a new entity.

Originally Posted 7-4-2008 by Nathan Benjamin


USS Constitution
Sickbay (Still!)

Between the quick glance at Chuck’s tricorder, in particular the section titled, “The Package” and Jenny’s report (carefully edited but the Marine could fill in the gaps easily enough), Hillman was nursing a rage unlike anything he’d felt since his team had been assigned to the Illyria-Rhys cleanup some eight years back.

“I should never have walked into that cargo bay,” Jenny was concluding as she pocketed the Dosi neural transmitters. She’d found them on the floor after Ben had left and retrieved the items for T’Shaini. Of course, T’Shaini was gone, now, sprung from sickbay by Chief Costala.

Even though she was deeply envious of her friend’s escape, (Dr. Ayre had vehemently refused to discharge Jenny, insisting that the trauma of her recovered memories was too intense to leave the security officer unmonitored… and hadn’t even flinched when Jenny gave him the stinky eye) watching them had been… nice. It was good to know that Mr. Costala was caring for the counselor, who had put herself at so much risk for Jenny. Which brought her back to the reason T’Shaini had been at such risk. “I had no weapons, no coms… I should never have gone in…”

“I don’t believe he gave you a choice,” Darren told her. Anderson’s troubled gaze returned to his but then he saw her eyes jump to someone behind him.

“I take it I missed everything,” Jameson said as he joined the two near the CMO’s wrecked office. Actually, he knew he'd missed everything… slow 'lift, spotty com's the alert from auxiliary tactical over the dropped shields… CF, anyone?

Darren glanced at the Chief Petty Officer, “Missed me making an ass of myself,” he admitted, hoping his own monumental failure would at least ease Anderson’s obvious discomfort.

“Don’t think you’re going to take the prize for ‘Screw-up of the Week’ yet,” Bill said, eyes firmly affixed to his crewman… why was she looking at him like that? “The Noth brothers got themselves locked into the brig… by the engineering staff.”

Which explained Pierce’s presence, ealier. Hillman shook his head and returned to the business at hand, “Anderson was just giving me her report,” he said, turning back to the crewman, “now that she can… remember… Jenny?” What the hell? The girl had gone dead white, her eyes were locked onto Jameson and her breath was coming in quick, panting gasps.

“Anderson?” Bill stepped in, laying a hand on her shoulder as he tried to break through whatever…

And was rewarded with an elbow snapping across his jaw.

“Don’t touch me!” she ordered, backing away and then he realized she’d snagged his phaser and automatically adjusted it to the highest setting. “I won’t let you touch me.”

“Anderson, stand down,” Hillman’s voice snapped through the charged atmosphere.

“No,” she said, “Not again… I won’t let him…”

“Jenny,” Darren calmly stepped between Bill and the young woman, “what you remember, what you’re feeling is what Chuck put there.” He ignored the quick intake of breath behind him as Jameson grokked to what was happening… what had happened… to Anderson. “It wasn’t Jameson who hurt you. He would never do you harm.” He paused as the girl’s eyes started to refocus, to see. “He might make you scrub out the torpedo tubes for three shifts running, though, if you don’t give his phaser back…”

“Oh, God,” Jenny’s fingers went slack with the realization of what she was doing and the weapon began to drop… into Darren’s waiting hand. He passed it back to Bill, who powered it down and reholstered it. “I’m sorry,” she said, once again shrinking in on herself. How many levels of shame were there, anyway?

“Don’t be,” Bill rubbed his jaw, “it was a good attack.”

“Gentlemen,” Dr. Ayre, approached, “once again, I believe it’s time you left the patient to rest. You can grill the child later..” He nodded towards Stephanie, gathered the shaken Jenny into her arms and began to lead her back to the much-hated bed.

“She’s not a child,” Jameson said, his calm declaration carrying across the room. “She’s a Security Officer,” he waited until Jenny looked back, “and a highly valued member of my team.”

It wasn’t a smile… Darren, watching, knew they were a fair road from smiles, yet but the flash of pleased defiance was enough to tell him she could come back. She wanted to come back.

Featuring NPC's Bill Jameson, Darren Hillman and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 7-4-2008 by Harry Finn


<>Hel-lo. Hel-lo.<>

The ship slipped by without a sound. It hadn't even bothered to reply. The beacon felt dejected. Another ship had completely ignored it.

I feel? It sensed a difference in its circuitry. I feel. The essence of a state of being. It processed this data over a million times then decided that it was a correct assessment.

It's lights blinked as a sensor signal swept over the beacon. *Tic Toc. Tic Toc*

It was happy.

Happy?

A ship had noticed it. <>Hel-lo. Hel-lo.<> the beacon transmitted to the ship.

<(Grag' nash groKuul!!)> replied the ship's sensors.

The beacon grew nervous. PSHT PSHT. It fired its small stabilizing thrusters to increase the distance between itself and the unfamiliar ship.

<(Bagraat hakgrunkle?)>

PSHT PSHT PSHT PSHT. More distance, need more distance. The ship slowed its speed and crawled up beside the beacon. It was a big intimidating, unfriendly looking ship.

<(GRAK!)>

<>Hel-lo. Hel-lo. I am beacon Sigma 490347. Are you the USS Constitution? Please reply in the standard Federation hailing frequen..<>

<(BAGRALL MEKAR!!)>

The unfriendly ship picked up speed and was gone in a flash of light. The small homing beacon felt relieved. Where can the Constitution be? I have been waiting and waiting and waiting…

It had waited in the upper atmosphere of a planet until the planet had undergone a drastic change. A heavy dose of radiation and atmospheric pressure changes along with a shift in its gravitational plane had sent the beacon into space. Then it drifted while searching for the one signal that would complete its programming. It had discovered that that signal would originate from the USS Constitution's sensors. It had also discovered that it could do complex equations and 'feel'. These abilities were not part of its original construction but somehow the beacon had acquired them. It was baffled.

It decided to replay a signal it had collected a few hours before. The signal had been ancient but the beacon was intrigued by the message. The message was..it was..different.

((Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars)) the message said in a syncopated code. ((Let me see what spring is like on a-Jupiter and Mars..in other words hold my hand. In other words..)) The beacon had some understanding of the message. It knew what a moon and star were but it had no memory files on Jupiter or Mars.

****

-Bridge-
-USS Constitution-

"Sir, Lieutenant Torrik?" the Communications/Ops officer on the bridge of the Constitution hazarded a request to the grumpy Executive Officer. Everyone on the bridge was feeling their latest failure but the XO was taking it personal. "Sorry to disturb you, but I think you need to hear this.." He punched a button on the ship's old console and the internal comm blared. <>Fill my heart with song and let me sing forever more. You are all I long for all I worship and adore..<>

"Ancient radio signals that were broadcast from Earth," the Bajoran growled, "I don't see why this is important."

"It's being transmitted by a homing beacon Sir," the officer replied, "Our third homing beacon, if I'm not mistaken."

"What? What's it doing out here?"

"No idea sir, but I'm sending it standard hailing frequencies."

****

((In other words please be truuuuuuuuue, in other words..))

=^=Hel-lo. This is the USS Constitution. Please respond.=^=

The beacon nearly wet itself (if a beacon could). It was so engrossed in the ancient message it had missed the initial sensor sweep.

<>Hel-lo. Hel-lo. I am beacon Sigma 490347. Are you the USS Constitution? Where have you guys been? I've been waiting here forever.<>

****

"That's odd," the Comms/Ops officer said.

"What is?" the Bajoran XO queried as he ventured over to the comms panel.

"The beacon is sending a lot of excess information."

"Tractor it in, we'll look at it once it's inside the ship."

"Aye sir."

Introducing the newest member of our crew and the final beacon: Sigma 490347
Originally Posted 7-4-2008 by Javier Costala


USS Constitution
Main Security Office - Deck 7

“LT?”

Tenanji looked up from his long-delayed study of Pierce’s contraband tricorder to see CPO Jameson. “You have something,” he rose, holding out his hand for the more compact tricorder his officer was proffering.

Since the third beacon had by some strange quirk of fate found them (it was now safely stowed in a containment field in the shuttle bay), Torrik had ordered the Constitution to make speed for Jericho-Samaria. Pleasingly, this maneuver had not ended in the the starship being fired on by the enemy vessel which lurked in their wake.

On the contrary, the ship, which likely contained Captain Benjamin and certainly sheltered the fugitive Chuck Burkowski (Tenanji had finally accessed the passenger manifest and found the man’s surname, which he felt sure to be an alias) continued to shadow the elderly Constitution as she raced for the Outpost.

Now Tenanji was using the precious quiet to try and discover who was responsible for crew’s current woes… most particularly who had put Burkowski in their midst.

Bill nodded. “You told me to look for references to an Admiral Richelieu?” The name which had popped on Usher’s first, abbreviated study of Pierce’s data.

“You found him?”

Jameson shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest, ‘Not as such but it looks like our boy Chuck had several subspace communications with one John Cardinal, a civilian in the Gamma Quad’s branch of the Bureau of Information.”

Usher looked up at that. Shaun Ryan Acker, whom Harry Finn had left the ‘Fleet to track down, had used the Bureau as a cover for his own widespread depredations.

“Yeah,” Jameson agreed with the unspoken connection, “that’s a department that really needs to clean house. Anyway,” he jerked his chin at the mini-corder, “According to Chuck’s records, Cardinal is the go-to guy on the race publicity… and he and Burkowski were in contact… real-time conversations, the day before Anderson’s data transfer was traced.”

“Also the day before we received the arrest orders for Pierce…” of course, Pierce had been skimming intel from secure files… because he liked a girl… the acting Security Chief wondered if this was an ulcer he felt coming on.

“Right. And, take a look, here,” Bill brought up the pertinent data on Chuck’s tricorder, “He kept records… probably wanted to cover his ass in case someone got shirty about payments…”

“Ahh,” Tenanji studied the carefully detailed outline of Chuck’s actions and the conversations he’d had with Cardinal: how Chuck had learned of Anderson and Pierce’s search from random scans of the crews thoughts; his report of same to Cardinal; Cardinal’s response that the situation was covered but that there had been an upset on the Knight and ‘his reverence wants me to kill the coms and move up delivery of the nanites…’

“The nanites being a reference to the Captain?” Usher surmised, scrolling down and stopping at a subfile titled, “The Package,” he murmured, opening it before Jameson could stop him, “More on Benjamin…?”

“No, sir, that’s his file on…”

“Anderson,” Usher felt the roiling in his gut rise to volcanic proportions, “He kept a log?” the lieutenant looked up, then back down at the detailed reminiscences.

“It looks like he recorded his favorite… episodes.” Jameson muttured. He had a keen understanding of Jenny’s violent response to his presence in sickbay, earlier.

“So I see,” Tenanji’s voice, cool at the best of times, had gone sub-polar. He let out a breath, “I wish Finn were here,” he admitted, “Having her godfather present might…”

“You haven’t read far enough,” Bill interrupted.

No, Usher realized, going further, he hadn’t. After what seemed like hours, he heard Jameson’s voice, as if from quite far away.

“Sir,” the non-com ventured, “what’s the plan?”

“The same as before,” Tenanji replied, “protect the ship and her crew and recover the Captain,” he gathered up the tricorders and headed for the door. They had found Richelieu and now knew that the Knight had uncovered something of value. He had to report the findings to Torrik… all the findings… and some reports were best made in person.

“What about Chuck… I mean, if we find Burkowski,” Jameson asked, thinking if they could retrieve Benjamin, they had a fair crack at the freak, as well.

Usher paused, considering. He had defined his life by the regulations he upheld and would never, in the scheme of things, have allowed vengeance to be a motivating factor but now…

“The man known as Chuck Berkowski is an aggressive telepath who has proven himself to be exceptionally dangerous," he said, looking Jameson in the eye, "Should we encounter him again, I fully authorize the use of deadly force." Quite certain they understood one another, Tenanji continued on his way to the bridge, the evidence of Chuck's many crimes in the palm of his hand.

Featuring NPC's Usher Tenanji and William Jameson
Originally Posted 7-5-2008 by Harry Finn


USS Constitution
Sickbay

“There’s no word on the Captain, yet,” Astyr was saying, standing next to Anderson’s bed. Jenny was barely on the thing, poised to flee at the first word from the medical staff but, since the incident with Jameson, it was obviously going to be a while before that word came down. “But the hostile vessel is still on our tail and LT seems confident that, if Benjamin is aboard, we’ll be able to extract him.”

“If he’s still alive,” Jenny said. the volatile mix of guilt, shame and fear which came along with thoughts of Nate spurring an intense bout of nausea. “Nothing on the sensors?”

The cadet shook her head, “Not yet.”

—————————-

“We’ve been going over Burkowski’s records, in particular the financials,” Hillman told her. He and Jameson had just spent a few productive hours in the saboteur’s quarters and discovered an ego that was more than happy to keep track of his intergalactic depredations. “It turns out you were closer than you knew to uncovering his actions.” He was pleased to note that, despite herself, Anderson showed a spark of interest. “That big Dabo win you caught on DS9, about a year back?”

She nodded, realizing that Hillman had seen the Wall of Scrawl.

“It was him… Chuck Berkowski, AKA Charles Burke, AKA Chalan Brek, citizen of Betazed. At the time of the meeting on the station, he was using Burke and acting as liaison to some other, unnamed, Betazoid bigwig. Boss Lady, he liked to call her.

“Turns out, that Chuck.. Burke used his inborn telepathic abilities to sway the Starfleet reps towards the idea of the race. Since any large payments by the major players to Brek would have been suspect…”

“They rigged the game so he’d walk away with his payment,” she finished the sentence.

“And if you were thinking of that win, anytime you were near him…”

She remembered, just before the disasterous non-dinner with Nate, racing down the hall and running straight into Chuck. Swallowing the bile accompanying the memory, she nodded.

Hillman looked away from her discomfort, “Well, anyway, I just, thought you might like to know… your investigation was sound.”

“Yay me,” she said quietly. In a moment she realized he was still there and looked up.

In the Marine’s eyes she saw the question.

“It was never you,” she said. “Not once.” The combination of relief and guilt in the officer’s eyes was almost too much to take.

————————

“So, what did you do with yourself,” Darbs asked, “for, you know, all those hours…”

“I sang 999,999 Bottles of Beer on the wall,” Anderson said calmly. She thought she heard Dr. Stryfe choking back a laugh, which was slightly rewarding.

“Really?” Saunders asked, “Cause, you know, I heard it was an airproof… ohhhh,” the light dawned. “You don’t want to talk about it… Hey, that’s okay,” Darbs, undaunted, continued, “we can talk about something else.”

Oh boy. “Like?”

“Liiiike, ummm… what do you think of Kowalski?”

Jen frowned. “Kowalski? I dunno, he’s umm, really really smart and exceedingly high strung and his approach to the lane is the stuff of legend… and… wait… what… why?”

Darby, amazingly, was actually blushing! “Well, I just, you know, he’s… I think he’s really schway, is all.”

“Schway?”

“Yeah, schway… like, he’s really interesting and kinda funny and totally hot!” Darby’s baby blues had gone dreamy as she recited his virtues.

“This is Kowalski we’re talking about right? Kal-El… PO2 Kowalski?”

“Of course! Silly,” Darby giggled, “Who else? Anyway, I just kinda wondered, since you’d been hanging with the engineering staff so much… did you know if he was, like, interested in, like, anybody?”

Besides himself? “Ahhh, not that I know of. Nope,” Jen turned her eyes downwards, afraid of what her expression might be revealing. “No, he’s free and clear… open for approach.”

“Wow, that’s, that’s like totally tubesockular!”

Where does she get these expressions? “Yeah, it is, I guess. Just, don’t offer him any oatmeal, okay?”

“Oh, thanks, JenJen!” Darbs, ecstatic, “I’m gonna go freshen up and pay a visit to Engineering! Oh, want to send a message to BHP?”

“No, that’s… no.”

“K,” Darby leaned over and gave Jenny a hug, not noticing how she stiffened at the contact, “I’ll let you know how it goes!”

“Yeah, do that.” Jenny watched her roommate practically float out of sickbay. If I were a better person, I’d warn Kowalski…

Featuring NPC Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 7-6-2008 by Harry Finn

-Brig-
-USS Constitution-

"What are you looking at?" Fenton said, his tone hard as the titanium rivets used to hold down the deck plating he was sitting on.

"Nothing much, that's for sure," Pierce replied as smacked his fist into his palm with a resounding pop. "Something that Starfleet swept up off of that piece of shit world Turkana II." BHP pushed himself off of the wall on which he had been leaning. He was ready for this, he wanted to hit something so bad it was tearing him apart.

"Four. Turkana IV retard. What's the matter? They not teach you how to count on that tough guy world you came from? What's it called again…oh right, no one knows cause no one cares," Fenton retorted as he stood to his feet.

"Both of you stand down!" Rahk roared from the other side of the energy barrier. He was getting tired of having to restrain and seperate the two engineers.

Ben ignored the Klingon security officer. "Go on..I'll let you take the first shot." He was staring at Fenton so hard his eyelids had thinned down until his blue eyes were barely noticiable.

"Why? Afraid if you.." Fenton threw the punch. It was a good one, high and hard, aimed right for Pierce's smug face. It would smash into his jaw and send the engineer flying.

Pierce caught Fenton's wrist, pulled it forward then pushed him back off balance before sending him crashing to the deck. Cadet Boyce bounced to his feet but caught a blow on the cheek that sent him to the floor again. Then the Klingon brothers burst into the cell and managed to restrain the two pugilists.

"You punch like a girl!" Fenton spat at BHP. He struggled to break free of Kol but the Klingon had him in a chokehold.

"At least I land my punches, you couldn't hit a Galaxy class.." Pierce answered his voice growing angrier as he struggled to break free.

"Both of you shut up!"

The two engineers turned to find a severely displeased Chief Engineer glaring at them dressed only in his bathrobe, which thankfully, was cinched in the front. His face appeared to be a livid red. Upon closer inspection they found that it was painted with a reddish ochre paint. "I got a message, a message that interupted my personal time," Javier said as he walked into the small cell, "a message that said two of my best engineers are trying to tear each other apart." He looked from one man to the other. "And it's you two..I thought you two were friends. What could cause a rift between the dynamic duo?"

Both engineers glared at each other then Boyce answered. "Him!" Fenton said as he nodded at BHP. "He said..he said Bilara would just make me miserable and if I was smart I would tell her to look for someone else. He said she wouldn't want trash like me anyway."

"I was trying to do you a favor!" Pierce said loudly but was cut off by a glare from the Chief Engineer.

"So you two have been fighting off and on for the past four hours over what one of you said to the other about a woman and what Pierce thought she would think?" the Chief asked. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" Kol and Rahk growled their agreement. "This tops Kal-El's bid for captain of the freighter it's so stupendous. You're both getting docked for this, if you're lucky I won't take a stripe."

"Sir, I'm the lowest rank.." Pierce started.

"Oh? I bet I could come up with something lower, Sub-Crewman Recruit Pierce," Chief Costala growled. Kol laughed. Rahk grinned. Boyce looked apalled. Pierce zipped it.

"Cadet Boyce, you're on duty and we need all the engineers, so get down to Engineering and make me forget this incident by performing the best damn shift you've ever attempted," Javier told the engineer. He nodded to the Klingon that held Fenton captive. Boyce was released and with a shrug at Pierce he left the cell.

"Sorry Fen, what can I say, I'm a dope," BHP said to his friend's back.

"Gentle..Klingons," Javier said to the two brothers, "if you'll give me a minute I'd like to speak to Mister Pierce alone." Kol and Rahk took their leave of the two engineers. "Now Pierce," Javier said, "what brought on this sudden urge to give dating advice to your shipmates?"

Originally Posted 7-7-2008 by Javier Costala


USS Constitution
Bridge

“Sir, the enemy vessel’s cloak has dropped.”

“Alert Lieutenant Torrik,” Tenanji, who had taken the con that Lieutenant Torrik might get his injured hand tended to, ordered Jezeera.

“Aye to that,” the Denobulan replied calmly.

Joining O’Keefe at her station, “Can you find any sign of Captain Benjamin?”

At warp 7 their shadow had been emitting a subspace variance which allowed Constitution to track its movements, or rather, it’s perpetual presence in their wake but now, without the cloak…

“Not… exactly.” Jada kept her eyes on the scanner, uncertain what to make of the readings the Constitution’s sensors were offering.

“Explain.” If the captain had been killed…

“There are only fifty eight life forms on that ship,” she finally looked up, meeting his cool, serious gaze with her own, “and all of them are Borg.”

Featuring NPC Bridge Crew
Originally Posted 7-8-2008 by Harry Finn


-Brig-
-USS Constitution-

"Fenton's going to wind up getting rejected again Chief," Ben said with a shrug of his shoulders. "I'm trying to help him. But he's too damn stupid to see it. So I told him Bilara would reject him..told him she didn't want to be around someone like him." Pierce retreated back into a corner, leaning against the apex of the two walls. "I know it was tough. I just wanted him to see that..that"

"That getting involved is just going to lead to getting hurt?"

"Right, Bilara's going to do to him what Miss Kennedy did," BHP stated, "reject him, and.."

"If you and Anderson couldn't work it out there's no hope for anyone else," Javier said, cutting to the chase. He had seen Crewman Anderson in Sickbay, he had heard from Kowalski and Tehamia and then pieced together what T'Shaini had told him to come to a conclusion. Pierce's reaction told him it was the right one. "It's a tough situation Pierce but you can't blame her.." he started to say.

"I don't blame her Chief!" BHP replied then softened his tone when he realized he was shouting at his department CO. "I blame me. I blame Chuck. But I don't blame Jenny." He pushed himself out of the corner. "I should have told her sooner. I should have told her I cared about her."

"Sometimes things don't work out like we want them to but you still can tell her," the Chief Engineer said, "she's wounded Pierce not KIA, she'll heal then you can tell Anderson how you feel."

"I already did Sir, it doesn't matter though," Pierce stated dismissively, "She said Chuck used me to break her down. When he did something to Jenny, when he hurt her, he used my image." Ben turned and hit the wall of the cell. The dull thunk and the pain it brought didn't help him feel any better. "I waited all this time, just to lose her."

"Maybe with time and counselling she'll get better, if she's anything like her godfather, Jenny Anderson will be resilient," Javier told Benjamin Hyde Pierce. "She'll come to a point where she can respond to your declaration. A time where she is able to differentiate between the thoughts of you Chuck left with her and the real you."

"I don't know Chief," Ben said as he let himself slip down the wall. "Maybe I should avoid her until that time? Give Jenny space? Then when she's ready..what am I saying? I don't have time, in a day or so I'll be at Fleet HQ waiting on my ride home. I guess it's finished." Can you call something finished that never was?

"There's still time," Javier reminded his engineer, "did Security find anything out about your case?"

Ben shook his head. "Before Jenny..before Chuck took her, she had me log a report about the incident that took place on Sigma Iota. It's still on my desk in my quarters; Jenny figured they could check on the story and see if there were any anomalies. But then she was taken.."

"I'll go get it and make sure Tenanji sees it," Costala said. "In the meantime stay out of trouble. If you make any more trouble for the security staff they may decide to hand you over to HQ and be done with you." The ensign turned to leave but paused to say, "People have been through worse situations and everything has worked out, it just takes time." The Chief Engineer thrust his hands in his bathrobe's pockets and left the brig.

Now I understand the phrase 'time is a luxury I don't have'. BHP thought as he stared up at the brig's ceiling. The energy field came back online, effectively cutting him off from everyone else on board the Constitution. This is how it used to be. Maybe there's strength in depending on yourself. At least nobody gets hurt that way.

Originally Posted 7-9-2008 by Javier Costala


USS Constitution
Sickbay

“I know you’re awake.”

Jenny sighed, then turned over to face PO1 Bramley “I knew the snores were overkill.”

He smiled but there was some concern in the expression, “We’re well into third shift,” he told her, “and you haven’t slept since…”

“I know,” she sat up, realized that Lieutenant Torrik was present in sickbay as well, seated at the small task light where Dr. Stryfe was running a tricorder over his hand. The XO seemed to feel the attention and looked back towards Jenny. It was all she could do not to dive under the covers… his eyes were so… hard!

“Did I do something wrong?” she asked Joe quietly as possible, unable to look away. “I mean, something else?”

“What? No,” Bramley, who had been charting Anderson’s stats looked up, surprised, “Why?” Then he noted the direction of her gaze and sighed, “It’s not you,” he assured her in an equally low tone, “it’s just… things aren’t going too smoothly and…”

“And Chuck got away because of me,” she said. When Joe began to deny it she shook her head, “We both know the drill… Starfleet doesn’t negotiate with terrorists…”

The chirp of a communicator interrupted her and everyone in sickbay went quiet as Torrik flipped open the device, =/\=Torrik=/\=

=/\=Sir, Lieutenant Tenanji wished you to be informed that the alien vessel’s cloak has dropped.=/\=

=/\=I’m on my way,=/\= the Bajoran pulled his newly-healed hand away from Stryfe and headed for the door. As he turned away, Jenny felt the constriction in her lungs release. The lieutenant had a very… intense… presence and the feeling of being a disappointment to him was just one more level of discomfort in the strata of her system.

She wondered, as Joe finished up his charting, if the sensors could pick up Nate’s biosig now?

“Now,” Bramley interrupted her thoughts, “about the sleeping thing,” he looked back at Usha, who was giving him a look of her own, “it’s not really an option,” he said, apologetically. “If you truly can’t get to sleep on your own, we have to prescribe a sedative…”

“I’ll try again,” Jenny said, quickly. “I’ll try.”

His expression was less than encouraging. “Okay, here’s the deal,” Joe crossed his arms over his chest and considered the young problem before him, “you have been through a series of deeply traumatic experiences and in order for you to fully recover from those experiences, you need to, among other things, sleep.”

Jenny looked away, realized her hands were white knuckling the blanket.

Bramley saw it, too. “Jenny…”

“Every time I start to fall,” she interrupted, “every time, it comes back on me. I feel what they did… what he made them do, just like it was real. It wasn’t… real… but it hurts. I feel… things… that didn’t ever happen and, it… then I wake up, again.” She carefully released the blanket, forcing her hands to at least look relaxed, “So how do I stop it?”

“You don’t,” the nurse told her, “You can’t. You just have to go through it, all the way. Your mind has to process what was done, it has to… and one of the brain’s favorite times to process data is while the body is asleep. We need to sleep to survive physically, but we also need to sleep to stay sane.” He reached over to the bedside table, lifted the hypo Dr. Stryfe had prescribed.

“But,” shit Jenny felt the tears starting up, again, “if I can’t wake up….”

“We’ll be monitoring you,” he promised, “the whole time and if there’s a moment when it looks like you’re under too much stress, we will bring you out.”

“Promise?” God, she sounded like a kid.

“Promise,” Joe brought the hypo to her arm, “The doc prescribed eight hours,” he felt her muscles tense under his hand, “Think of it as going up against a hostile force,” he told her, “just another day in the life of a Security officer but, this time, the territory you’re protecting is… you.” He waited for her to relax again before administering the dose.

As Jenny allowed herself to be lowered back onto the bed, she looked up at the stupidly handsome nurse, “How come you know so much about… this kind of thing?” Yeah, you bad, can’t even say the word…

But Joseph understood the question, “It’s not my first rodeo, Crewman,” he said sadly as Jenny’s eyes finally slid closed. Looking up at the wall screen, he wondered how long it would be until the first engagement.

Featuring NPC's Joseph Bramley and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 7-9-2008 by Harry Finn


The Megiddo Regatta - Yesteryear

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