The Tumbled Graves

USS Hawking
Office ComSecOps - Deck 14
1800 Hours - Three days out of Jericho-Samaria

Since he'd left Jenny the previous night, Harry hadn't stopped looking. On what, in normal times, would have been an off-shift, he'd been studying the recorded effects of the grafting device on its subjects (victims), then he'd started walking, scouring the ship's public areas looking for signs of erratic behavior in his fellow crew. When that got old (and people started looking at him funny), he came back to the office, caught a few minutes sleep at the desk and then stared at the sensor records, as he was doing, now.

It took three chimes for him to realize someone was at the door.

“Come,” Finn didn’t bother looking up from the terminal. When the shadow over the desk didn’t move for several seconds, he sighed, “Pause replay,” looking up, “Rodriguez…”

“Chief…” the Warrant Officer greeted, “You've blocked incoming messages," she noted.

"People keep sending me memos," and none of them useful. He'd have expected to have heard something from Gorsky or Purcell by now but then, who knew how long it would take to decipher the code they'd uncovered?

Karrie nodded her understanding, then, "Been quiet, today.” By that she meant no fights had broken out in the past nine hours.

“Yes, it has.”

She jerked her chin at the terminal, “Going over the records a while?”

“Yes.”

“Find anything?”

“No.”

“Remember the last time you took a break?”

He didn't answer.

She didn't give up. “When are you due on the bridge?”

Harry leaned back in his chair, “Hour and a half.”

Karrie leaned forward in hers, “Get out of here.”

Harry tipped his head, considering.

Rodriguez narrowed her eyes, “One hour, Chief… away from all,” she gestured at his PADD-strewn, coffee-cup littered desk, “this.”

He opened his mouth but Karrie was way ahead of him, “I bet there’s someone who might like to see you,” she said, her voice taking on that perfectly bland-yet-suggestive quality, “She might even be able to sleep better tonight, knowing that you’re thinking about her… enough to check up on her personally and not by Security detail proxy.”

Finn’s eyes narrowed and Karrie resisted the urge to gulp. She may have gone too far, given Finn’s almost obsessive views on privacy. But he was fast-approaching wrecked and, judging from Jenny's equally haunted expression when she'd come on duty, there was more to the Chief's frantic delving than just a strong sense of duty. One thing she knew, if he didn't ease off soon, he'd break.

Suddenly, so suddenly it made her jump, the Chief of Security rose from his chair, “Okay,” he said, shutting down the workstation and heading towards the door, “but let's be clear,” he turned as his officer followed suit, “Me taking some personal time has nothing to do with you playing yenta.”

"Yes, Sir." Following him out the door, “What’s a yenta?”

Post featuring NPC Warrant Officer Karrie Rodriguez

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-18-2008


USS Hawking
Turbolift

“Time is running short… we need to act, now."

"Our tasks are not complete."

"Tasks… you mean taunts and games and cowering in the shadows…”

The argument was becoming more virulent as time progressed… and as it did, it became less certain which of the once separate personalities was arguing which side… who resented their original orders the most. They were, in each interaction, becoming that much more enmeshed… that much more something new.

“It won’t last much longer,” a hand tapped at a uniformed leg as they waited for the turbolift to bring them to Deck 2, “only until he’s felt the sting… the loss… the guilt.”

The guilt he should have felt when he murdered Granther. Once that was achieved, he could eliminate the threat and Shaun’s life could continue, unchecked.

“But you are not Shaun…”

“Nor are you… and until he has suffered…”

”How much? For how long? How do you quantify pain?” There was a fervor beneath the words, a sanguinary undertone which yearned for release and it was soooo… compelling, “You can’t but I can promise that if you let me have him, together we will watch him suf…”

At that moment the conveyance paused and its doors opened to reveal the very subject of their internecine debate. Entering the ‘lift was Harry Finn himself, the weight of his responsibilities shadowing his eyes.

“Chief,” they greeted as he entered.

Finn nodded his acknowledgment before requesting deck 6. Then he seemed to shake himself free of whatever thoughts were plaguing him, “Where you headed?”

Looking at the drawn and worried features of their quarry… “Mess. And you?” Though they knew, oh yes, they…

“Just checking… ah, stopping by one of the labs.” Harry turned, going into ‘elevator’ mode… silently focused on the wait.

"Now… do it now!" reckless bloodlust poured through their being, blinding Shaun to the finer points of the game, urging him to plunge the long-ago stolen dagger into their quarry’s spine… cut out his lying heart. A hand, unbidden, began to reach beneath the uniform jacket.

“How are tempers in the kitchen, these days?” Harry asked over his shoulder.

The hand fell away, blade untouched. “Cooler. A line has been drawn across the kitchen floor…”

Finn’s response was a short grunt, his effort at polite conversation complete.

Again the hand crept to the hiding place of the Bajoran blade but, before the unique couple could take any further action, the ‘lift reached deck 6 and Finn was on the move.

“Give my regards to Dr. Schaeffer,” one said, made thoughtless by the denial of blood.

A slight stiffening of the spine and a short nod were Finn’s only answer before the doors closed and the ‘lift moved on.

“That was indiscreet.”

“I'm done with skulking… I want this over… I want his pain…."

"And you will have it… we will have it."

“When?” the demand was spoken aloud.

“After.”

”After what?”

”After we give my regards to Dr. Schaeffer”

“Change destination,” the order was snapped aloud, “Deck 9.”

They needed to make some arrangements.

There will be time, there will be time…

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-18-2008


USS Hawking
Corridor Outside Dedicated lab 1138 - Deck 6

Huh. The lab was empty.

It was never empty. Either Kerrin or Gorsky were pretty much always in the damn place, running unpronounceable experiments or descaling relics… it was one of the most appealing aspects of the doctor, that she had the workaholic bug.

Maybe it was a sign. Maybe it meant he was supposed to set an example to smart-ass teenage commanders by avoiding all contact with…

“Screw that." If nothing else, he needed to see that she was safe. He'd gotten Jenny covered for the moment, working alongside William Jameson who, aside from being just plain scary to look at, could threat assess in his sleep. But who was watching out for Kerrin? "Computer, locate Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer.”

"Dr. Schaeffer is currently in the mess."

With a sort of reckless determination, Harry made his way back to the ‘lift, hoping to catch Kerrin before she moved on.

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-18-2008


Main Engineering
Chief's Office

The previous day's reports had been logged and Ensign Costala sat staring at the console screen. Twenty minutes prior, he had been on the verge of taking another crack at finding their renegade program but then depression had hit him. The engineer had found himself drawn down into a mire of regret and 'what if's' about Lia, surfacing only as a beeping sound cut through his malaise.

I could clean my service pistol..that always took my mind off of my problems before.. he thought, as Javier reached into the second desk drawer and pulled out a lock box. He keyed in the security code and opened the gun case to reveal his marine sidearm, a JK-9, resting on a bed of foam. He reached inside the case to procure the weapon but the bandage on his hand and the splints that held his fingers in place did not allow him to grasp it. "Damn."

"You say something Chief?" The question, followed by a quick intake of breath, was heard from the area near his door. Javier glanced up to find Crewman Towak studying him and the pistol with a look of concern etched on his Bajoran features.

"This is my service pistol from the Corps…cleaning it helps clear my head," Javier explained as he set the box on his desk. Was he spying on me? the engineer wondered.

"Okay sir," Towak replied. "Are you going to get that message?"

"Message?" His attention was drawn to the console which was emitting the beeping sound as it broadcasted the incoming message alert. "Yes. Thanks Crewman." In otherwords: Leave Me Alone. Waiting until Edded had made his exit, Javier put the pistol back in the case, sealed it and returned it to his desk drawer.

He tapped the console and played the message. An austere looking human wearing an expensive suit and sitting in a plush office appeared on the screen. Javier got the feeling that this was the sort of man who was not used to waiting on anything.

"Mister Costala, my name is William Sevigny and I am the legal representative of Creighton Chase," the man explained in a stern tone, "as Mister Chase's attorney I also represent his family members, in this case, Mrs. Caterina Chase and her daughter, Lia, formerly Costala, soon to be Chase. I would like your complete co-operation in the matters I am about to discuss with you, however if you are averse to the procedure I will not hesitate.."

"WAIT!" Javier yelled, interupting the babbling attorney who glared at the engineer then attempted to proceed despite Javier's attempts to speak to the man. Caterina Chase? Could it be..? Lia? What the hell is he talking about? Costala thought in exasperation.

"Wait a minute mother****er!" Javier yelled angrily, losing his temper and any sort of professional credence he might have had in Sevigny's eyes. "Lia is dead; she passed away just over a week ago.."

"Ah, I see my message has pre-empted that of my employer's," the attorney replied, speaking over Javier. "I shall contact you again soon, good day." The screen went blank.

"What the **** is going on?" the engineer proclaimed with an intensity born of confusion. The console beeped again and Javier stabbed the console with his finger, opening the channel once more, expecting to see the attorney. The woman that faced him smouldered and for a moment Javier was too stunned to speak. Damn. It's her..

"Hello Javier."

"Hello Cat."

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-18-2008


Mess Hall

Kerrin pulled the bowl of ice cream back toward the center of the table so she could pick her spoonful. "Yeah, I figure the extra amount of calories burned in exercise," Her mouth twisted into a mischievous grin. "completely justifies the treat." The spoon paused halfway to her mouth. "Of course, as of late I haven't had as much exercise as I would like, but if I play my cards right…."

Licking her spoon in sympathetic glee, Dana hummed her agreement. "Well, truth be told, I've only just recently started 'exercising', again," yesterday! then she thought of Lincoln and her eyes darkened, briefly. It was a hardship, being stuck between an old relationship and something as new and… enervating… as she'd found with Alex but then, just thinking of the younger man, and the few hours they'd recently spent getting to know one another… in every possible way… brought a flush of remembered pleasure to her cheeks. "If you have a lucky deck," she told Kerrin, with a wicked grin, "I may want to borrow it."

*snort*

"From the look I saw on Gorsky's face when he came in the lab this morning you don't need no lucky deck." Taking a moment to do a happy dance for the joy of the ice cream cascading across her tongue, Kerrin then tapped her spoon thoughtfully on the edge of the bowl. "I on the other hand need all the luck I can get." Her eyes clouded. "Tough when everything that goes wrong is somehow his fault…" She shook her head and smiled at the other woman. "not that it is his fault, he just thinks it is."

"Alex says Harry's been wound pretty tight since he came on board," Dana reached over and dug up another spoonful of sin, "but he also says that, since the whole Halcyon deal, he's been way, wayyyy less prickly," and with that she toasted Kerrin with her spoon, "in fact, Alex says you deserve a medal…" and then Dana shoved the ice cream in her mouth as she felt her entire vocabulary becoming couched in the words 'Alex says.'

Snuffling into her hand trying to not laugh at Dana's obvious discomfiture. "Nah, though if medals were being given out I would have to recommend a medal for…no, not a medal…but the rewards of someone who can focus all his energy on one task…yeah."

"Got any particular tasks you need focused on?" the surprisingly deep and amused voice dropped down on the two women from above and behind Kerrin. Then, "Oops…" his timing, it seemed, had been perfect, if this were a comedy vid. For the two women, however, it had led to an unfortunate spate of ice cream cough on Grissom's part and Kerrin, well, he bit the side of his cheek as he patted her shoulder, if those sounds he heard coming from her were any indication, he'd sent her last spoonful of ice cream straight up her nose. "Or maybe I should just call medical?"

Dammit dammit dammit…ice cream headache compounded by the fact that it had slid into her sinus cavity. Waving her hands ineffectually in front of her face as if it would help it return to where it belonged, Kerrin took a few deep breaths and then looked up at Harry. "What are you doing here?" Eek. "Not that you can't come to the mess whenever you want, or that I am not happy…no, ecstatic to see you, it is just…unexpected." She quickly wiped under her nose just in case some errant ice cream had decided to completely humiliate her by escaping. "Welcome…just unexpected."

"I came looking for you," he said, amused at her antics and her verbal backpedaling. Now this was a woman he could relate to… this was a woman… he slid his hand down to hers and pulled her up, "I have just over an hour before I have to get to the bridge and … I wanted to see you."

Oh my, Dana drew the bowl of ice cream back to her side of the table as the much vaunted 'focus' came into full effect before her eyes. Taking another bite (since the last one had been pretty much wasted with the choking) she enjoyed being a background player in what looked to be a really hot…

"SHIT, the solvent!" Kerrin, whose eyes had begun to drift half shut at the gleam in Harry's, suddenly snapped them open. "Can you come to the lab with me?" Oh yeah, that is real romantic. "I left some artifacts in a solvent, has to be out in an hour…just came down to…I had no idea you would…CRAP."

It was better than not seeing her at all, "Well," he began…

"I'll do it." Dana dropped the spoon in the bowl, and rose, herself, "I know the door codes and, I mean, it's not too complicated, right?" She smiled at obvious hope in Harry's eyes, "and I have to get away from that ice cream before I make myself sick."

"I owe you…I swear I will pay you back. All you need to do is take it out of the solution and leave it on the drying rack, DO NOT use your hands, there is a pair of gloves right next to the tub." Dancing over she gave Dana a quick hug. "Really, I owe you HUGE!" She leaned in closer to whisper in her ear. "I am banking on being able to work off at least 2 bowls in the next 60 minutes."

Biting back the laugh, Dana slid past the two, "Solution, gloves, drying rack, got it…"

"Thanks," Harry offered Dana a rare smile and she favored him with a saucy wink before heading out to the lab. If she timed this right, Alex should be coming back from his latest endeavors with Huey… or was it Dewey?

Once the woman had cleared earshot Kerrin leaned into Harry. "You know, I still haven't seen your new quarters."

"They're pretty much just big… and empty… and…" ahhh, "You know, you should come see my new quarters." he wrapped an arm around Kerrin's shoulders and started for the door. "They're quite big… and empty… and did I mention…"

"The bed matches the quarters?"

"And she reads minds…" Walking out of the mess, something tickled the back of Harry's brain… but then Kerrin leaned in to him and the small, small whisper went unheard in the ensuing rush of sensation.

JP of Girl talk and Male interruption….

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-18-2008


USS Hawking
En route to Deck 6

In the turbolift, Dana felt herself humming, again. It would be downright embarrassing, if she weren't so very happy. There was some guilt associate with the joy but, then, didn't there always have to be a flaw in the Persian carpet? At least, that's what her Dad had always said. Not that her relationship with Lincoln had in any way been a flaw… he would always be a cherished friend but at the same time, it wouldn't be right or fair to either Linc or Dana to pretend there was more on her side than that… no, the flaw was the pain she knew she was causing Lincoln by following this new path with Alex.

A path that, thus far, had been full of interesting detours…

As the 'lift reached the requested deck, she reminded herself of Kerrin's instructions. Tub, gloves, drying rack… tub, gloves, drying rack… tub, gloves, drying rack, call Alex… With a grin, she reflected that it was true, no good deed went unrewarded.

Post featuring NPC Lieutenant jg Dana Grissom

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-19-2008


USS Hawking
Deck 11, ODN Matrix 1163-Theta

"Awww, Huey, you're killing me," Alex Gorsky was telling the vamped-up tricorder he was currently wielding. Huey sat unrepentantly in his palm, happily emitting gibberish. If Huey were working to specs, it would be displaying a complete diagnostic of the matrix which Alex had isolated for the purposes of this experiment and, if it had, he might have had a chance of setting the AI program to seeking out the source of the ghost signals which were, according to Torrik and Purcell, slipping through the Hawking's systems. Sighing, he shut down the recalcitrant nanites and re-connected the matrix to the ODN relay. Crawling out of the access hatch he straightened, cracked his neck and started back to the turbolift. He had to enter the results of this latest failure to communicate and then… a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth… then he'd give Dana a call. He was willing to bet she was great at soothing scientific disappointment.

The thought of such consolation added a slight spring to his steps as the young scientist made his way back to lab 1138.

Post featuring NPC Ensign Alex Gorsky

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-19-2008


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

"I'm glad you're feeling better, kid," Lincoln said. Although the man didn't show it, Nils could tell there was a sadness to his presence.

"I don't remember the attack… And I don't remember feeling bad… But evidently things were pretty dicey," the science officer said trying to catch Jillian's eye. She was still being cool towards him. "But thank you for the sentiment." Technically, he'd been released from sickbay, but he couldn't pull himself from the room. Jillian's reaction to his near demise had blindsided him. He didn't want to leave until he knew where they stood…and why. But she was busy, or looking busy, so he remained patient.

"I'd say things were more than dicey," the stoic hybrid replied. He drew close to his friend and settled on the edge of the biobed. "Talk about going where no man has gone before… What was death like?"

"Sortuv like baseball," Nils said seriously.

"That's deep," Lincoln answered sporting his first grin in days.

"I have some things I'd like to talk to about concerning the subject actually… Death…not baseball… I'm interested in some of your theories on origins… But first," Nils paused and regarded the back of Lincoln's head. "Tell me what it is that has you down."

"That obvious," the cosmologist asked somberly. "Dana…" He shook his head, considering that answer 'nuff said.

The two men sat in silence for a long time. It was Nils who finally broke the quiet. "I was talking to the counselor about paths… Paths we choose to take. Paths we miss… It would seem to me that regardless of what the future and past hold, only the present has any real power. Power to influence the future and learn from the past…" Nils paused and tapped Lincoln on the shoulder. The elder man turned around. "Now's the time to affect your future, Linc."

"What the hell is wrong with you," the hybrid said through a chuckle. He held up a finger, "No don't answer that…and change the subject."

"Okay," Nils started. "What's the status on Harry's sleeper? Aside from him trying to scramble my neurons, that is."

"Well the decryption has been running non-stop. And I figure it could run non-stop for the next fifteen years before hitting on a sequence that can unravel that signal we were working on. The latest update is a message I got from Dana…" He threw away her name when he said it. "Evidently she and roboboy uncovered a possible use for the signal we hadn't foreseen. Some sort of knitting effect that warps the internal sensors. They cc'd the data to you."

Nils' ears perked up at the mention. "Knitting effect," he repeated trying to wrap his mind around the concept. "Get me a PADD."

Minutes later the two men had an array of PADD's laid out on the biobed working through the sensor data they'd been sent. "The waveform is completely altered at the point of origin," Nils said, his brow low and mind clicking. "Whatever is damping the sensors would make them swim around the focus like water flowing over a rock in a stream. The telemetry would start normal, flow around the subject, and return to the original course having gathered nothing worthy of reporting. It's genius. Has Harry seen this?"

"No idea," Lincoln said.

"You should get with Dana and go over the data one more time… Have her report to Harry directly. He'll want to see this…immediately."

"Plotting and scheming?" Lincoln didn't seem amused.

"You're a grown man, Lincoln," Nils said seriously. "Your personal life is just that - personal." A pregnant pause bullied its way between unspoken words. "But if your paths cross, you'd be foolish to ignore opportunity." A thin smile stretched across his face.

Neither man moved for a brief time. =/\= Computer, locate Dana Grissom.=/\=

"Dana Grissom is located in Dedicated Lab 1138 on Deck 6."

"Atta boy," Nils said thrusting the PADD into his friend's hand.

A mischievous grin found its way to Lincoln's face. "All in the line of duty, my friend. All in the line of duty." Lincoln's eyebrow arched in excitement and he turned quickly, making his way from sickbay.

"Good luck," Nils called after him.

This post features NPC Lincoln Purcell
Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 02-19-2008


::Crew Quarters::

The door chimed a second time before it was opened. A dishevelled Oakley stood just behind the door. "Can I help you?" she blurted out in a slightly annoyed tone before the engineer realized she was addressing Senior Chief Mustapha Ibrahim. "Chief, I'm sorry..I was busy and Tehamia has been something of an annoying distraction, I thought.."

"May I come in?" the Assistant Chief of Engineering inquired in his deep baritone timbre.

"Of course Chief," Heather replied as she turned and led the way back into the small room. Along the way she pushed aside empty cups and papers that were strewn about the room, clearing a path to the single chair in the room. Oakley waited for the Chief to sit and was surprised when he waved it off.

"I can only stay for a moment. I came down to see how you are fareing. Tehamia said you were working on a project and that it was keeping you very preoccupied," Mustapha stated as he observed the state of the Petty Officer's quarters.

"Yes, it's been my focus since my draconian punishment by the Ensign," Oakley replied, "I'm going to file an official protest against him for harsh or excessive punishment."

Mustapha nodded and continued to listen silently.

"He can't take away my progression to Chief Petty Officer, it's not..fair," Oakley said, pausing to think of what she had said then continuing, "I think I have a pretty good chance of.."

"Losing," Mustapha pointed out. "Petty Officer, we are on full alert, we have an intruder aboard this ship posing as a member of this crew." Mustapha's tone turned stern. "This intruder is bent upon sabotaging and killing the crew and yet you find the time to get into a fight with a known troublemaker over a matter so ridiculous, that I feel as if I am a high school principal instead of the assistant chief of engineering on a Federation starship."

Heather started to speak, to argue, she even felt like cursing but Mustapha was right. "Okay, Senior Chief," she replied meekly.

"Ensign Costala asked me to come see you," Mustapha admitted. Heather looked at the African man in confusion. "He wants you to return to duty early and if your work remains at peak level, and there are no other fights with your crewmates, he will make note of it on your next fitness report."

"I..well, I want to return," Heather replied, mentally weighing her options as she spoke, "I love engineering Senior Chief and I'm damn good at my job. I'll do it. I can do it."

"There is one more stipulation to your swift return. You must undergo counselling at least twice a week," noticing the quick flash of anger on Oakley's features, Mustapha added, "this is non-negotiable and both the Chief and I agree on this."

"How long will these sessions last?"

"Until the ship's counselor is completely satisfied," Mustapha replied.

Heather shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "Okay, I'll do it." How bad could this be? I'll go in and talk about my unhappy childhood then in will be finished. "When do I start?"

"Today."

Post Featuring: Heather Oakley & Mustapha Ibrahim

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-19-2008


Finn Quarters - Deck 9

"Ice cream for everyone!"

"What? Now?" Harry rose up on one elbow, skeptically eying the ecstatic bundle of curves in his bed.

Covering her face with her hands in fear that she would snort, Kerrin peeked up between her fingers once the heinous noise had been averted. "Sorry, referback to a conversation that you weren't a part of."

"Ah," he smiled, "thinking about other conversations," laying a line of kisses down her exposed shoulder, "I must not have been properly focused."

Her eyes went wide and she felt a blush stain her cheeks as she realized that he had overheard more of her and Dana than she had thought…eh, screw it, not like it was anything but complimentary. At that thought she bit her lip and smiled up at Harry. "God forbid you be more focused…I might explode."

"Well, you're safe… for the moment," he dropped one last, long and probably too-smug kiss on her lips, "I have to be on the bridge in twenty…"

Sighing loudly Kerrin scooted up to sit. "And I need to lock away the samples that Dana took care of."

"Workaholic," he accused, reaching over the side of the bed for where he was pretty sure his uniform had landed.

Kerrin's leg stretched out from the bed and her toes grabbed the shirt so she wouldn't have to leave the bed yet. "Oh Pot…the Kettle is calling."

Hauling on his trousers, Harry grinned, "I thought kettle's whistled." Once he'd pulled his shirt on he went looking for the jacket, "I'll walk you to the lab."

Mid pucker up to whistle…or fail to, since she never got the hang of it, Kerrin fanned her face with her hand. "Why sir, how gentleman like of you to offah…"

"Yup, that's me, the soul of chivalry. Boot," he warned, tossing a Kerrin-sized shoe to the fluttering damsel. He knew she kept herself from being afraid with humor and he was more than willing to play into it… that fear shouldn't take over her life.

Fully dressed Kerrin bounced once on the bed then jumped to the floor. "Well, that ought to hold me for a couple days…hours…minutes…whatever."

"Wow, I… I… don't think I have any response to that," Harry, once again in uniform, came close, very close, to the scientist, "Don't forget Minnie," he reminded her, holding up the microphaser he'd given her back at Megiddo. "May I…?" he looked meaningfully down at her blouse.

"Why of course." Kerrin leaned against the wall behind her and waited for him.

……….

Ten minutes later, Harry dragged himself away, "Now there's only about seven minutes to get to the bridge," he cleared his throat, "We'd better get you to the lab before…"

"I have a chance to cause more trouble?" She dropped a quick kiss on his cheek. "You really don't have to walk me to the lab, I can find my way myself, honest…I have been there before."

"Yeah," he agreed, "and you can tell me all about it… while I walk you to the lab.

JP w - Ice cream man!

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-19-2008


USS Hawking
Dedicated Lab 1138 - Deck 6

Walking down the corridor, Harry felt something… something unnerving creeping up his spine. Minutes to Gamma shift, the corridor was empty… most of those using the deck 6 labs preferred the ‘daylight’ hours to work. But it wasn’t the quiet that bothered him. There was something else… something not right… and approaching their destination he dropped his arm from Kerrin's shoulder, feeling the need to be prepared for… whatever was waiting.

Kerrin sensed his unease and had fallen quiet. Eyes wide, she keyed in her entrance code and the moment the door to the lab opened, he knew… he recognized the smell. “Stay out here,” Finn ordered, shoving Kerrin to the side, “and call Security,” he added, entering the room, his left hand reaching for a phaser that wasn’t there. Damn Tenanji!

But as he came around to the other side of the lab’s central island, he realized he wouldn’t need a weapon.

“I can’t… I can’t wake her,” Alex was saying from where he sat on the floor, his back to the cabinet and holding the so very quiet body of Dana Grissom close to his heart. “I keep talking to her and calling her name,” he stroked her hair, tacky with blood, tears mixing with the rapidly-browning clots, “but she won’t,” he dropped a kiss to the girl’s temple, “she just won’t wake up…”

“Alex,” Harry breathed out the name as he slowly crouched in front of the scientist, taking in the scene: he saw the fallen tub and scattered artifacts; took in where the drying solvent had splattered on the floor and noted the pattern of blood… where it had fallen… where it hadn’t. He saw the deep gash on what was visible of Lieutenant Grissom’s throat.

“I have to help her,” Gorsky finally looked up and his eyes were blown… black with shock and ravaged with grief, “she… she’s… broken… she needs… I have to…”

“I know you want to help, Alex,” Finn said, remaining quite still, “You want to help and the best way to do that is to let me do my job,” he waited until he saw the meaning sink into the young man’s eyes, “It’s my job to take care of Dana.”

Lost eyes focused on his, “You can do that?”

“Yes,” Harry’s voice was soft, gentle in a way seldom heard, “but for me to do that, you have to let go. Do you understand?” He didn’t move, didn’t look away, barely bothered to breathe, “You have to let her go, now.”

A long, slow shudder escaped the dark-haired man and then, wordlessly, he began to lower Dana, his movements gentle and achingly slow and as the girl’s body was laid to rest before him, Harry finally saw just what had been done to her… saw her pale, tragically beautiful face…

… felt the world careen to a halt as he saw, superimposed over Dana’s cold, still features, those of his own father’s. His father who’s throat had also been cut, who’s left eye had also been removed… who had been murdered in exactly this fashion, thirty-seven years past.

"O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark…"
Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-19-2008


After contacting security Kerrin stood frozen in the doorway. She couldn't see, but she could hear…the raw emotion in Alex's voice, the answering gentleness of Harry. She scrambled to put it together, make the words make sense, but the harder she tried the less sense it seemed to make. There was a metallic tang to the air that she could not identify…not until Alex stood and she saw the blood.

Oh god…Dana.

Her stomach pitched as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place…she was dead. As if observing from above she saw her knees give way and her body slide down the wall clutching her stomach as it violently reacted to the realization. She's dead…I sent her here and she is dead. Shaking uncontrollably she curled in on herself and in time to the rocking of her body she heard a phrase echo over and over in her head…because of me, she was here because of me.

as Kerrin

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-19-2008


USS Hawking
Dedicated Lab 1138 - Deck 6

Because of me.

This time there could be no avoiding the responsibility. No one… no one but Acker would have thought to kill in so specific a method… only he would have dug far enough into Finn's past to know… he had to look down, away from the ruination of innocence… to know how Harry's father had been murdered and then to make use of that information.

More, and possibly worse, was the sure knowledge that the body lying here was a mistake on the killer's part, the knowledge that it was supposed to have been Kerrin. And there could be no solace in the knowing because Dana Grissom was still dead…

Because of me.

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-19-2008


Racing towards the lab, Vanona Hawthorn slowed at the sight of Dr. Schaeffer, slumped in the entrance, looking very bad, indeed. "Doctor?" she paused next to the shaken woman, "Dr. Schaeffer?" she crouched down and placed a hand on Kerrin's shoulder, "You called Security…?"

Hollow-eyed, Kerrin looked up. "Dead, she is dead…in my lab." A long shudder shook her body. "She went there as a favor to me…"

But the lieutenant was already on the move, phaser raised in her right hand and through the door. "Hold your position," she ordered, seeing Alex, bloodstained and wild-eyed, but then…

"Stand down, Hawthorn," rising slowly, as if he were exhausted or wounded in some way, Chief Finn turned to his second in command. "He's unarmed…" he gave the younger man another glance, realized that Gorsky wasn't really with them, "… and he didn't do anything." When the woman made no move to relax he straightened, "That's an order, lieutenant."

"Sir." Hawthorn lowered her weapon, moving around the island towards the men, "Dr. Schaeffer said Lieutenant Gris… oh…" her voice broke off as she rounded the corner and saw…

Post featuring NPC's Vanona Hawthorn, Kerrin Schaeffer and Alex Gorsky
Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-19-2008


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Deck 6 ::

Lincoln could tell something wasn't right when he rounded the corner of the corridor. Even before he could see the open doors and gathering group of people. Whether it was his heightened Vulcan hearing or a twinge of telepathy manifesting he wasn't sure. But something was deadly wrong.

"What's going on," he asked, annoyed. Only then as a space opened up between people, did he see that there was a person lying prone on the floor. A woman. Panic seized him and he attempted to charge into the room. Not Dana. It's not Dana. He tried to convince himself, but he knew otherwise. An angry howl escaped from his chest and he slammed into a security officer trying to bar his entrance. The woman hissed in pain as their bodies collided, but she managed to hold him back. "Call sickbay," Lincoln cried out, struggling against Hawthorn. "Beam her to sickbay."

Lincoln's eyes shifted to Alex, who was stained with blood. "You bastard," Lincoln called out. "You killed her you bastard." Wrenching himself from Hawthorn's grasp he charged Gorsky with his full strength. Rage and terror over Dana's apparent demise blinded him to everything around him. His form smashed into Gorsky and the two men went down, just as a phaser lit Lincoln up, and stunned him into unconsciousness.

Post by NPC Lincoln Purcell
Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 02-20-2008


USS Hawking
Dedicated Lab 1138 - Deck 6

"Dammit!" Finn hauled the prone Purcell's body off of Gorsky, where they'd both fallen beneath the counter. "Thanks, Hawthorn, let's just see if we can contaminate the scene a little more!" He shouldn't be shouting at his second, she'd taken the hit pretty hard. He shouldn't be letting the tension control him. He shouldn't be thinking about the shaken woman at the entrance to the lab… even as he berated himself his eyes sought her out.

Kerrin felt more than saw that hands were helping her to her feet, through the haze of grief and guilt she made out the form of Jenny Anderson, oh, security is here…or did they already get here? "Thanks, but I am sure you have better things to do." She forced a wan smile onto her face. "I am fine." She lied to the young woman as she leaned against the doorway.

Having seen Harry looking out at the trembling woman she currently supported, and then his silent flick of the eyes from Kerrin to herself and back, Jenny gave Dr. Schaeffer's arm a strong squeeze, "I'm sure you are," she lied back, "but it looks like I've been assigned to you…" she glanced towards the lab and the telltale pool that had crept across the floor and knew that Harry wasn't protecting just the doctor from what was in that room. Despite yesterday's hard words she wasn't sure she could resent him for it as she took in Ensign Gorsky's haunted eyes and watched Jameson's face settle into hard lines. "No one should be alone after something like this," she added quietly, wondering how bad this something could be, to make seasoned officers like these go so pale.

Her eyes closed to hold in the tears that that simple phrase had drawn from her. "Thank you….sorry…thank you."

From where Finn was helping him up, Alex watched Harry watching the women. Making sure Kerrin would be safe… making sure Kerrin wouldn't end up like Dana. Aching from more than Purcell's vicious tackle, he blinked away the vision and and felt himself drawn back, down to where she lay, waiting for him. All around him people were talking - Harry was talking - giving orders and searching the disposal records and calling for Medical and what difference did any of that make because she was gone… she was gone so far away. He started to kneel, to go back to her…

"Alex?"

If he could just…

"Alex!

He looked up and there was Finn, quiet and serious and cold. "I need you to tell me," the older man was saying, "I need you to take me through how you found her."

"I… I can't…"

"Yes you can. For her, Alex. You can for her. You can do this for Dana."

For Dana. He closed his eyes, shutting out the present so he could better see the past… so he could walk through the nightmare again. "I was coming back to the lab to download some data," he began, but his voice was flat and dead because she was dead… "but it was dark…"

Post featuring NPC's Kerrin Schaeffer, Jenny Anderson and Alex Gorsky
Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-20-2008


USS Hawking
Brig - Deck 15

T'Shaini leaned one hip on the corner of the desk and looked down at the Bolian. "You say there are at least two more confined to quarters because there was no more room here?" She scraped her fingers through her hair and calculated if she had time to fit in one or two trips before her next appointment. "Who were they?"

Crewman Bardon shrugged. "Two from engineering got into a scuffle, Boyce (again) and a new one, Petty Officer Oakley."

Hmmm. Sliding off the desk the counselor started toward the door. "I will swing by Oakley's quarters first, see what transpired." She had just stepped into the hallway when her commbage went off.

=^=Hawthorne to Counselor T'Shaini=^=

=^=T'Shaini here=^=

=^=Report to sickbay, there has been an incident that will require your assistance.=^=

=^=On my way=^=

USS Hawking
Sickbay - Deck 5

"…and so Gorsky has been held for questioning, but Chief Finn thought it best that he was brought here." Hawthorne finished.

"Oh poor Alex," T'Shaini shook her head in disbelief, Dana Grissom was not even directly connected to the investigation, why had she been a target? "may I speak to him?" The counselor moved in the direction of the nod she had received from Vanona and found Alex, still spattered with blood, slumped on a bio bed, oblivious to the security standing on guard beside him.

"Alex?" A small twitch of his shoulder indicated that he had heard her. "Alex, it is T'Shaini." She wondered if that was a barely perceptible nod or just the sway of his body after she spoke. It was no wonder that he was unresponsive, not only the trauma of finding the victim of a murder, but to have it be someone you were in the burgeoning stages of a relationship with, the anguish was incomprehensible. In her life T'Shaini found intense satisfaction in her professions search for answers, the puzzles of the sentient mind and the process of healing…and then there were times when she would give it all for a magic wand to take away someones pain. Not even the first time I have wished that this week.

She stayed by him, speaking in a low tone, trying to break through, for quite some time. As loathe as she was to leave him, she knew there were other demands on her time. Seeing Bramley nearby, she took him by the arm. "Please, no matter what, do not leave him unattended."

"You think he's suicidal?" He shot a look over his shoulder at the catatonic Gorsky.

"I will make no assumptions at this stage, I would simply feel more comfortable if I knew he was under constant observation." She the nurses' shoulder in thanks. "I will be back as soon as possible."

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-20-2008


USS Hawking
Dedicated lab 1138 - Deck 6

Stepping out of the room’s lone closet, wearing one of the seldom-donned lab coats, hands covered by gloves, he stifles a curse. Even with her back turned, bent over the tub of ancient trinkets he can see… the height, the hair, the sound of the voice singing over her work… it’s the wrong woman.

Before he can decide on a course of action, the closet door whisks shut behind him and the woman turns, smiling, expecting someone else to have entered the lab… seeing the intruder, and the blade, her eyes widen and her own, gloved hand reaches for the badge on her uniform.

Not fast enough… because he’s already in front of her, ripping the badge away, tossing it….

Harry’s eyes opened and he scanned the floor, looking to where they’d found the badge, almost hidden beneath the counter, at two o’clock from where he was currently standing - where the killer would have been standing when Dana tried to call for help.

He closed his eyes once more.

The combadge gone, the attacker moves forward but she, she isn’t giving up… the tub, filled with solvent… a low-grade acid… is her closest weapon and she uses it, falling back and throwing the entire container at her assailant but it’s slapped aside, artifacts and liquid flying out in an arc as the bin slams into the central counter and falls. Maybe a splash hit the oncoming threat but not enough to stop him… he’s fast… trained fast… security or military fast because Dana has no time to flee, no time to reach for any other weapons. A scant second after the bin is thrown he has her. Not thinking now, just reacting… target acquired… grabbing her arm, spinning her around…

“Sir?”

Finn’s eyes snapped open again, his head whipping around to where Usher Tenanji stood, looking far more deferential then was the norm, at the entrance to the lab. “I told Jameson I didn’t want to be disturbed."

“Yes, I… was given to understand but…” Usher stepped in, holding something up as he did so, “given the circumstances… and given Dr. Schaeffer’s statement on your whereabouts at the time of the murder…” he ignored the flash in his superior’s eyes at that and held out Harry’s sidearms, both his preferred duty phaser and the holdout, “It seemed right that you should have these back.”

Wordlessly, Harry accepted the offer and stowed his weapons.

Usher cleared his throat, “It must come as some relief, knowing that… that you are not… ah… not…”

“Not the host to a murdering sociopathic son of a bitch?” Finn completed the awkward sentence, “Yeah, it’s great. The party invitations are in transit.” So saying he turned from the younger officer, eyes locked on the pattern of blood over the decking. "If that's all, I need the room.”

There was a gaping hole of silence following the brusque dismissal during which he thought Tenanji was going to say something else - maybe serve up some inane platitude or, worse, offer to help - but he didn’t. A moment later the door hissed open and shut.

Harry’s jaw set as he went back, back to the moment… he recalled the bruises on her face, which had indicated a right-handed grip…

She’d have been calling to the computer as he spun her around, covering her mouth and drawing her head back at the same time, exposing the throat, making room for the blade…

Alone, in a room corrupted by death, Finn buried himself in the darkest corners of a killer’s mind…

Post featuring NPC Lieutenant Usher Tenanji

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-20-2008


.: U.S.S. Hawking | Captain's Ready Room :.

A throbbing pain the likes of which he hadn't felt in some time coursed through his head. It began just behind his eyes, and reached back into the teen commander's head like the tentacles of some great squid. For hours he'd sat, glued to the desk as he poured over information on various subjects that he had neither clearance nor rank to read. But then that hadn't been much of in issue in the past, and certainly this grisly game of cat and mouse that Harry and his "friend" we playing on his ship warranted a little more than the Hawking's oldest ensign was willing to put out. Nathan buried his face in his hands, rubbing at his eyes.

"SO… I mean… you can't do that captain. You can't just stop us from doing our jobs.. we're not sta….."

"I can do whatever I want Samantha." Nathan answered with a tone that implied the issue wasn't up for debate. He looked up at the woman standing before him, and her colleague Owen Freeman. "Look. This is a starfleet ship. And we've got someone on board who isn't who they say they are. So until that changes, things are gonna get locked down. Sorry." Nathan stole a glance at his screen, on which lay a very damning report written some years ago by a Lieutenant Commander Harry Finn aboard a vessel called the Anasari Maru about something eerily similar to the current events unfolding. He'd have loved to get back to it. But the Hawking's civilian reporters were doing a fine job of holding that up.

"So what are we going to do if we can't do our jobs… if we have to be joined at the hip with one of your crew?" Samantha asked."

"Yes captain. I was to do a piece on the Hawking's stellar cartography department this week." Freeman nodded. "I was… "

"Ok… then you can buddy up with someone down there. I don't care. I'm not putting…."

=/\= Hawthorne to Benjamin =/\=

Nathan reached around to the back of his high leather chair and groped for his com badge, which was still affixed to his jacket. =/\= Yeah? =/\=

=/\= Captain, there's been an incident in the science labs. you need to come down here. =/\=

=/\= On my way. Tell Cay. =/\=

=/\= Yessir =/\=

The connection was broken. Casting a glance tot he reporters still standing in front of his desk, he stood up and gathered his jacket. "You two will get a message from Cay about who you're going to be assigned to. For now, you stay with one another. And Samantha you take your kids to school. They don't walk alone." He met Autumn and Kadence almost every day on the way to the Hawking's small classroom when he walked with Three. They walked by themselves, Autumn- who was now five- claiming that she knew the way, and her mom was working already.

"Of course." Samantha replied, a bit more subdued now. Her mind no doubt on her girls.

"Ok.. let's go." Nathan replied walking around the desk. As he folled to two of them to the door, he reached up, tapping the badge again. =/\= Benjamin to T'Shaini =/\=

=/\=T'Shaini here=/\=

=/\= Hey. Meet me in the science lab… 1138. Bring Torrik. =/\=

=/\=On my way, Lt. Torrik is in the vicinity, I will collect him and report.=/\=

Nils overheard the conversation taking place over the comm, but only as if it were occurring in a bubble. He couldn't tear his gaze from the body of his friend. Dana and Lincoln had been beamed in together. One dead, the other stunned. The grisley state of Dana's body was the first thing Nils noticed and he'd pieced together the nuts and bolts of the scenario from there. He was precariously close to shutting down. Dana's blank death gaze reminded him entirely too much of his brother's - although clearly the violence inflicted on her had been much more intimate and horrifying.

This time, however, Torrik Nils did not shut down. Duty kicked in. With an effort born of faith, he forced himself to turn from Dana's lifeless form. "I'm right behind you," he whispered gruffly to T'Shaini. "And take care of him," he called out pointing at Lincoln, still unconscious. He trusted that someone from medical heard him.

.:Dedicated Lab 1138:.

Kneeling down, Harry was staring at the slight feathering in the now-dried stain when the sound of the door opening brought him to quick alert, "God da… what!!…. Sir," he amended quickly as the interruption proved to be, not one of his team but his CO, accompanied by T'Shaini and, oh, gods, Torrik. "Sorry. I wasn't…"

"Report." Nathan said curtly upon entering the room and getting an eyeful of what was apparantly a bloody affair. The dark stain on the otherwise white carpeting was quite unmistakable. He'd put on like it on the floor of computer control on the Presidio a few years back. The stain explained what and for the most part how, but Nathan waited with a sickening sense of dread for the who.

"Sir," Finn stood still, eyes on the middle distance, wondering why Hawthorn hadn't told the captain what had happened, "sometime between 1850 and 1945 hours, an unknown intruder attacked, murdered and… mutilated… Lieutenant Dana Grissom. The body was discovered by Ensign Gorsky, who suffered severe trauma upon the finding. Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer and myself arrived on scene at 2010 hours, at which time security and medical were called. The investigation is in progress."

"You said mutilated." Nathan observed quietly, taking in the rest of the room. "How."

Nils couldn't take his eyes from the blood on the floor. Knowing that it had once coursed through the veins of his friend sickened him. "Her throat was slit and her eye removed," he said, his voice seething. "What the hell was she doing in here," Nils asked turning on Harry. "This lab is dedicated and she doesn't have clearance."

Now he brought his eyes to the present, to Torrik, "She had the codes because she'd been working with Gorsky but… tonight… tonight she was here because she'd offered to help out Dr. Schaeffer…" he paused, tensed, went on, "and me. She was helping Kerrin so we could have an hour together, so Dana was here instead of Kerrin. It was supposed to have been Kerrin in the lab…"

"It is not surprising that Dana was here because of kind gesture." T'Shaini laid her hand gently on Nils shoulder. "It does not, however, make the act any more or less heinous because of who the victim was…we need to discover the identity of the attacker so that they can be caught and not have a chance to do this again."

"I've been thinking about that." Nathan spoke up, looking at each of them in turn. "And I think we need to institute a mandatory buddy roster. No one is to be alone at any time. Everyone will have someone else attached to them." He stuffed his hands into his pockets. "I've already talked to some of the civilians."

T'Shaini nodded. "That only seems wise."

Nils nodded, thinking of Jillian. There was no reason anyone should be alone while a murderer roamed the corridors of Hawking. The thought was chilling. "I assume the sensor logs have already been reviewed," Nils stated plainly. As the shock of the tragedy began wearing off, so did the numbing effects it brought with it. Anger and pain rushed to fill the void.

Harry briefly closed his eyes… from the look on the Bajoran's face, there would come a reckoning, soon but for now… "Sirs with all due respect, that buddy system… it works for everyone except the one person teamed with the killer and, yes," he glanced at Torrik, "the sensors have been reviewed and they're about as useful as you'd expect… a shipwide blank from 1830 to 2000 hours. But…" before anyone could jump in, "because of this crime, because of the evidence produced in the commission of this murder, by the time we get the ME's report, I can guarantee a much shorter list of suspects."

"Explain that." Nathan asked casually, his mind conjuring up the brow beating someone would be recieving as soon as he left this room. The Operations officer on duty ought to have caught the sensor outage.

"If I may show my ignorance, why will the ME report narrow the field of suspects?" T'Shaini asked.

Welcome to forensics 101, Harry thought, "Because, no matter how technologically advanced our perpetrator may be, once he got his hands dirty, there's no way to hide certain physical characteristics. The ME report will give us a general idea of the killer's height, we might get lucky and get some DNA but don't hold your breath. We'll learn that the cut was made with the left hand and we'll get trace elements from the blade, giving us a clue to the murder weapon." He looked back to the stained floor, briefly, before continuing, "Also, the ME will be able to determine the relative strength of the individual from the bruising on the victim, as well as the depth of the cut. I can tell you, from simple observation, that the killer will be someone with… experience… someone who's killed before…."

"So we're talking about a strong, most likely left handed individual that has some experience in hand to hand combat?" Nathan shrugged. "That's a lot of people Harry. They teach combatives to everyone."

"Possibly left-handed," Harry shrugged, "I'm left-handed but if I had to, I could do a lot of damage with my right and, yes, a lot of people take class, Sir but only a percentage of those have actually killed. To commit a murder, as quickly and efficiently as it was done, that takes a experience, perhaps in the field, on the line… that, combined with Acker's program…"

"Ok." He nodded, conceding Harry's point. His mind however, was on what Harry had mentioned earlier about the Killer being teamed with someone, possibly putting that individual's life in danger. He was right of course. Whomever drew the unlucky number would be virtually handed over on a silver platter. But then they'd know. Once someone came up missing, they'd know. One more. One more person on the slab, and they'd have their killer. Nathan had never had to knowingly offer someone up before. And what made it worse was, he didn't know who it was going to be. It could be any of them standing in this room, himself included. The thought was like a lead weight in his stomach. but it was the best plan he could think of.

"We're doing it." He heard himself say. "We're pairing everyone up. We just need to keep everyone connected. Hourly reports form one pair to another. Something. Harry, make the roster. " The weight grew, and bounced around. Someone had just been thrown to the wolf to save the rest of them. He was shocked at how easy it had been. At how quickly he'd done it. "And um.. T'Shaini, work on finding out who has killed someone.. I don't think anyone has a criminal record.. so find out if it's listed in anyone's Fleet record. Like.. in the line of duty."

T'Shaini offered a short nod, already wondering how many of the crew served in the Dominion War…

"I'm going to go over internals again. I suspect I know what I'm going to find, but my sensors going dark bears more investigation. T'Shaini if you wouldn't mind working from main science…" His voice trailed off and he shot Finn one more look. Intellectually he knew Dana's death was not that Security Chief's fault. But he took issue with the course of events leading there.

Harry turned towards his superior, (but not away from the guilt), "Sir, permission to stay focused on the case… we have a number of crew able to assemble a list…" and the sooner I find Acker, the sooner we can ditch this dumbass buddy system.

"Ok, that's fine." the captain replied, nodding. "That's all I've got.. unless anyone else has anything."

Apparantly satisfied, T'Shiani and Torrik started for the door. Nathan turned to join them, but remembering the reports he's deen going over just prior to being called to the lab he turned back to Finn.

"And Harry, I want to talk to you later, tommorow or something, in my Ready Room. I want to know all about the Anasari Maru."

Joint affair with Mister Crmudgeon #1, and his buddy, Mister Curmudgeon #2.. and the hotty Vulcan Counselor Chick… Plus Captain Benji

Originally Posted By Nathan Benjamin 02-20-2008


USS Hawking
Main Security - Tactical Auxiliary

Newly assigned ‘buddies’ Usher Tenanji and Vanona Hawthorn continued their scans of the ship’s sensor records. They didn’t bother with the almost two hours which had been blanked, by means unknown and thus far untraceable, but rather skimmed the available data from the two hours after the murder of Dana Grissom. Gran and Ellison, and their respective buddies were reviewing the twelve hours prior to the crime.

No one knew what they were looking for, beyond ‘something wrong’.

The silence between the two officers was telling, well, mumbling, at any rate. Uncertain what he’d done to offend the junior lieutenant but also unable to focus with the waves of quiet animosity buffeting him from the right, Usher sighed, “Pause replay,” he ordered his screen. “Lieutenant, if you would prefer another… buddy… at your side, I am sure Gran would be only too happy…”

“I am fine with the current arrangement,” the hybrid’s voice was icy, and sounded far from fine. “Computer, pause,” she ordered her own screen before looking up, matching his cool brown-eyed gaze with her own, “If we are partnered, then I know who is keeping tabs on you.”

Interesting. “I was unaware I had entered the ranks of those suspected,” he commented, allowing his body to follow his gaze and turn towards the woman.

“Not officially,” Vanona offered a desultory half-shrug, “however, I find it curious that, until your arrival, complete with a long-standing grudge against the Chief, the Hawking was remarkably free of murders.”

“Indeed,” the Human placed his hands behind his back, head tilted, “If not for the fact that Chief Finn’s troubles with the alleged sleeper hadn’t begun many months before my posting, that line of inquiry might have some relevance.”

“Only if we believe that there is only one such individual on board,” Hawthorn countered. “Perhaps there are two. One, the original, bent only on mischief, on tormenting Harry and another, recently arrived, who has a more… permanent… agenda.”

“‘Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily’,” Tenanji quoted absently, trying to picture a scenario in which two individuals could arrive on the same vessel as Harry Finn and, with completely unique approaches, make his life a living hell. Intriguing but, to him, quite unlikely.

“Occam’s razor,” Hawthorn nodded her understanding, “However, is it not also said that, ‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,’?”

“And when you and Mr. Holmes have eliminated the impossible… that is to say, Finn’s single suspect theory… than I shall be more than happy to ascribe to your suppositions as to my trustworthiness.” Usher’s eyes were unassuming as he held Vanona’s accusatory gaze, “Until then, as one suspect to another,” he said, “perhaps we should attend to our duties, while we each keep tabs on one another.”

Hawthorn’s answering smile was more than a bit predatory, “As you wish,” she said, turning back to her screen, “Resume play.”

Returning to his own search, Usher found that, while all knowledge may be useful, knowing the cause of Hawthorn’s ire did not necessarily make for a comfortable work environment.

Post Featuring NPC's Usher Tenanji and Vanona Hawthorn

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-20-2008


Heather meandered down the corridor at a slow pace. She didn't relish the idea of speaking to the ship's counselor, once she had had time to think about the meeting. The engineer knew without a doubt that the counselor would have access to her complete records. Heather had already steeled herself for the condescending looks or acid tone that the counselor would use. I have to do this to pull myself out of a hole..once again..so get in there and get it over with. she thought, rebuking herself, as her pace quickened.

She arrived outside of the counselor's office, in no time at all, and the doors slid open so she could step inside. And what an office it was. It reminded her more of a lounge or coffeehouse than anything else. The decor consisted of warm friendly colors and works of art adorned some of the walls. Heather found the art to be comforting and a sharp contrast from the usual Cubist forms one found in most psychologists' offices. Mother and Child. she thought, recognizing one of the paintings. Her eyes wandered over the space and discovered that the room also had greenery in the form of a small bonsai tree which sat beside a water fountain. The sound of the gurgling water was peaceful and restive and Heather was coaxed into sitting down, just to drink in the sound, which was so different from the thrumming of the warpcore.

Her attention was drawn to movement and the engineer realized there was someone else in the room. She stood to her feet quickly. "Petty Officer Heather Oakley, reporting as ordered."

Almost looking forward to the relative simplicity of dealing with anger issues, T'Shaini took a moment in her office to clear her head, and look over the file for Heather Oakley. Interesting. That line of thought interrupted by chime of the door she signaled the door to open, then watched as the wary young woman perused her office. Witnessing the perceptible softening in the tranquil space T'Shaini smiled to herself, and soon the consolatory music from the fountain brought her new arrival to bask in its restful aura. The counselor began to quietly walk toward the young woman when she shot to attention. Stopping to lean against the couch, T'Shaini shook her head lightly. "No need to stand on ceremony here, please…make yourself comfortable. May I make you some tea?"

Comfortable? That made her want to laugh. What was comfortable? The ability to return to one's duties and push everything back and away. That is comfort of a sort. She could deal with it all when her life became normal again. "Tea? No thank you lieutenant," Heather replied noting the pips on the woman's collar. She seated herself, trying to remain in a ramrod straight position even as the chair struggled to make her relax.

A slight huff of air that passed for her laugh escaped as her hand brushed across her collar. "I am so seldom referred to by my rank I confess I had almost forgotten it. Please call me T'Shaini." She seated herself in the chair across from Heather and folded her legs beneath her…and waited.

Well isn't that nice for you. Heather thought with a frown, wondering if the counselor and Tehamia were related. "Lieutenant, it is my understanding that I am here because of a professional matter, not to be your friend, so I will address you as one should address a superior."

"In my profession I find being addressed by rank can be detrimental to what I wish to accomplish, but since this is your time, you may address me in any fashion you see fit." T'Shaini said evenly.

"Yes lieutenant," Heather replied then clammed up. She waited in silence for a few moments. Neither woman said anything. Oh come on, just give me my scarlet letter and let's get this over with.. Oakley thought as she looked at T'Shaini silently.

After several moments of silence weighted down by the glare of the young woman across from her, T'Shaini leaned forward conspiratorially in her chair. "Not that I am adverse to a little peace and quiet, but since you were sent to speak to me, perhaps it would be best if we actually had a conversation? Have you always wanted to be an engineer?"

"No lieutenant, when I was little I wanted to be a princess but that dream died the moment I found out I didn't have a royal lineage," Heather replied smartly. "What did you want to be before you settled for counselor?"

"A sniper, no…to be truthful that was what my father wanted. I always wanted to be a counselor."

"Well I guess one of us should be living their dream then," Heather replied, "that only seems fair." She sighed and relaxed into the comfort of the chair. "I originally wanted to study bio-chemistry at the Daystrom Institute but you already know that from reading my file." The engineer frowned and looked down at the carpet.

"Personal files often do not tell the entire story." T'Shaini watched the young womans thoughts spiral downward. "How have you been treated on the Hawking?"

"Fairly well. Except for the Chief of Engineering's reaction to the thing with Boyce. He thinks we're all marines and need to be treated like those dolts." Oakley snorted and looked over at the bonsai tree. "I was doing my job..Boyce was the one who wouldn't do anything and I get punished for that?" She muttered under her breath.

"Can you tell me what happened?"

"He wasn't doing anything. I mean, he was doing something, just not what I told him to," Oakley explained. "I'm not going to get reprimanded for his inability to stay on task so I kept reminding him. Boyce got belligerent and then he called me a bitch so I told him I was going to report him. Then he got really angry and called me a bitch again." Heather's knuckles tightened as her hands gripped the arm of her chair. "Then he said everyone knew I was a…but I punched him before he could go any further."

"It mattered so much, what he said you were?" T'Shaini's low, soothing voice asked her. If this incident was indicative of her temper there was indeed a great deal of work to be done.

"I don't like people calling me names," Oakley stated, anger flashing in her eyes as she looked at the officer, "especially the type of name he was going to call me."

"What was that?"

Heather shrugged. "Whore. Slut. Teacher's Pet. Home-wrecker. Take your pick."

T'Shaini, finding the list rather unexpected, shook her head. "Why would he call you that? Has their been any incident he would be aware of to garner that sort of information? And even if he did call you that, do you think your reaction was in proportion to the insult?"

"No, I don't know. I guess I thought that was what he was going to say." Heather thought back to the incident. "Did he deserve to be punched? Absolutely. How do you like it when people call you a bitch? Or perhaps you've been lucky enough not to have people speak to you like that lieutenant."

"I have been spoken to in somewhat dispraising terms, on many occasions. Who has not? And though I do not appreciate it, I find it is mostly born of misunderstanding my manner or intent, so I attempt to dismiss it in a manner that makes their accusation look unfounded." A ghost of a smile turned the corners of her mouth. "It also has the added benefit of making them look foolish."

"Lieutenant, I'm more intelligent than Crewman Boyce could ever dream of being and yet I have to suffer his moronic behavior," Heather complained. "I know more about engineering than most of the officers do but I get stuck with Boyce because no one of consequence wants to deal with him." She huffed and said, "I might as well have been set up."

Time for some tough love.. T'Shaini held up her hand. "Unfortunately 'suffering moronic behavior' is just one joyous part of living within a society. We all have to do it, it is how we chose to handle it that defines us. As far as I can see you have chosen to handle it as befits a spoiled child, and now…a conspiracy theory to justify your behavior?" T'Shaini unfolded her legs and sat up straight. "I am certain you are aware of the situation on this ship, nerves and temper are stretched to the breaking point as it is and you are telling me that just because Boyce called you a name you deserve to retaliate in whatever way you see fit?"

Heather laughed at the spoiled child reference, she had been somewhat spoiled when she was a child so the description might have been correct. "Do you think that perhaps he might think twice before calling someone else a bitch?"

"Boyce? Truthfully?" She did not even have to pause to think. "No, and whether he does or does not is not your call to make, he was pulled from duty and will be transfered off the Hawking for his actions. He has caused problems long before your posting, and is being dealt with."

"Ahh the long arm of the Chief, yes well Engineering will be a happier place without him."

T'Shaini nodded. "I have no doubt it will be." She tipped her head to the side considering the woman in front of her. "Was that your only issue?"

"No," Heather sighed, "I have quite a few besides being spoiled and disliking Boyce." The engineer smiled for a moment. "Can I have that tea now?"

"Of course." T'Shaini rose and crossed to the replicator, bringing back two steaming mugs she handed one to Heather. "Would you care to talk about them?"

JP T'Shaini and engineer Princess Oakley (written by engineer Princess Costala)

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-20-2008


The Wasteland

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