This part of the tale features the following NPCs:
Camael.jpg - Camael

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Deck 4 ::

Maintaining any real level of focus became an obsession as Hawking's young CO marched through the corridors of the ship. Compared to where they'd been, this situation was by no means dire. But Nils still felt the urge of duty drawing him. The relatively minor details of ship running he'd let slide, to be picked up by whomever happened upon them. This, however, was not routine and could potentially lead to danger. So the Bajoran forced himself to be present. Whoever they were beaming aboard could be a threat.

Harry, whose quarters were only a deck away from the transporter room, was already waiting, nerves tamped down hard. His eyes grazed over the Security detail and took in both CPO Jameson and, a bit surprisingly, Jenny. She'd just gotten the nod from medical and already she was being sent out to meet potential hostiles. Not your department, not your department…

"I have a lock… well, the best I'm going to get," Chief Lottz was saying as the doors slid open once again.

Harry didn't look. He didn't have to.

Nils didn't even glance about. He felt assured the people that needed to be in place were. He did notice Finn and made very brief eye contact. With a curt nod he passed the XO and took his place before the platform. "If it's the best your going to get, Chief, go ahead and energize. Whoever they are…get them here."

"Aye sir," Lottz said even as the transporters began to whine. The faint glow hovered over the dais then lines of material transport stretched vertically as their unexpected passenger materialized.

"Oh my, oh my, oh… my," the elderly gentleman who faded into existence blinked in surprise at his sudden change in surroundings, "I must say, this was unexpected. Hello," he offered a finger wave towards the most obvious threat in the room, that being Chief Jameson.

Nils stepped forward and lifted his hand, trying to draw the man's attention. "Hello," the Bajoran said moving into their guest's line of site. "I'm Commander Torrik Nils of the starship Hawking. We were monitoring your situation and thought you could use some aid. Do you need medical attention," Nils asked, taking a brief survey of the elder man's condition.

"Med… I don't… I feel altogether fine…" This statement was followed by a patting down of himself that most people only did mentally after a transport. "I must say, that this is most kind of you, yes, most kind." A slight shuffling step brought the fellow closer to the Captain but a grunt and shift from Jameson's quarter had him shuffling back, again. "Yes, ah, most kind," he dragged his eyes off of the behemoth Security noncom, returning the warm glint in Jenny's eyes and offering a friendly wink to Harry before again addressing the Captain. "Many would have simply passed by without a second glance," he asserted, his tone momentarily serious. "But you, sir, and yours reached out to aid a helpless wanderer… and I am grateful. Oh… I am also Camael," he paused then, "yes… that is me… Camael."

"Camael," Nils echoed with a nod. "Your ship is currently trapped in a gravitational eddy, as you may be aware, and we're unable to get a tractor lock to pull it out. But we'll work on that problem and offer any help we can in repairing your vessel when it's safe for you to return."

"Very helpful," the old man puttered. "Very helpful indeed! Yes, yes… I accept your kindness and thank you once again."

"Um…" Nils started. He realized he'd exercised the full extent of his first contact pleasantries and wished silently that he'd invited T'Shaini to come along. Making a mental note to add all first contacts to her official job description he swallowed hard and looked back at Finn. "This is our First Officer, Harry Finn. He'll…" What? Be your host? "Lieutenant Finn will make arrangements for your stay on board." At that point, the Bajoran clamped his mouth shut. Diplomacy on any level was not his strength.

Harry warned off the Security team with a glance before stepping up to their visitor, while internally he made a note to contact Atwood's assistant about guest quarters, Tenanji about a long-term detail… "Sir."

"Oh, just Camael… you know I don't need much… I mean, that is, I take up very little space… though it will be lovely to have some other people to talk to for a change. It does get so lonely… out there…"

"Camael," Harry felt an unfamiliar twitch of the lip, "We'd… we're more than happy to offer you some… space and… conversation but," he held up a hand to forestall the man's reply, "SOP… that is, standard operating procedure, requires that you be cleared by our medical staff before we move forward." The same medical staff, Harry recalled with an internal wince, that he had been assiduously avoiding. Apparently some bug had climbed up the new guy's ass and nothing would do but that Finn come in for a 'check up' every two cycles while, as far as Harry was concerned, he could go for, oh, ever, without having someone with an MD attached to their name poke, prod or peer at parts best left unseen. "I'm sure the Captain would welcome a nice… chat… on the way to sickbay while I get you squared away? I mean," he amended at Camael's obvious confusion, "make those arrangements?"

"I'm not…" Nils interjected with a scowl. He caught himself before his protestation became too brash. "I'm not free at the moment for a chat or a trip to…sickbay." The Bajoran glared at his human XO feeling not only a little put out, but completely unwilling to foster a conversation on the subject. He also had no intention of visiting the sickbay anytime soon. Perhaps ever. "Harry, you have a yeoman for the arrangements. You can escort him to our new CMO," that hurts to say, "and make sure he's squared away, as you put it." Nils didn't add 'that's an order,' but he left a space for it. "Welcome aboard, Camael," the CO said quietly then he turned to the door. "I'll be on the bridge," he said as the doors swished open, then he headed for his quarters.

There was a classically awkward pause after the doors swished shut behind Nils. Harry, no newbie to glossing over pain, simply accepted the bitter twist of Torrik's refusal to deal with their new Chief of medicine or the space left by the old one, "So, Camael," he turned towards the quietly curious expression, "what brings you to this neck of the galaxy?" And, as the man began to brightly describe his intention to archive the mythologies of as many races as possible in his 'time on this plane' as he put it, Harry felt another twinge… this one of pity. Of all the starships in all the quadrant, this poor schmo had to be rescued by the most dysfunctional crew in the fleet.

Jameson, with a nod towards Lottz, gestured to Jenny and the two followed at a discreet distance. The old man certainly seemed harmless enough but, as both had learned, things were too often not what they seemed.

A Joint effort between the dueling curmudgeons, and introducing Camael
Originally Posted 12/5/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking
Deck 5, Chief Medical Officer's Office

"Uh oh. You guys look angry. If there was plastic on the floor I'd think I was about to get whacked. How long have you been waiting in my office?"

Matt Ayre continued to lean on the CMO's desk, his arms crossed tightly with a scowl on his face, "I think it's a little soon to be assigning sickbay duties to Jill Munro." He looked over at Tatiana Thorne for support.

Tatiana was looking down at her boots, but when she felt the eyes of Ayre on her, she looked up and shrugged. "I agree," she said simply. She had planned to only say that, but she suddenly couldn't keep quiet, and continued, "She may have done a few admirable things recently, but that doesn't erase the fact that she used her medical knowledge to purposefully hurt people." She sighed, "I get that life in her universe was rough, and she had to do what she had to do. But, I agree with Matt…it's just too soon to have her here."

Ender walked around Ayre and took a seat at his desk, "So what do you two suggest I tell Lt.Cmdr Vail or the Captain, both of whom gave me this order," the CMO kicked his legs up onto the desk, "Should she sit around and do nothing? Maybe I can recommend she hit up the holodeck and come back when she's tanned. Or nice. Whichever comes first."

Ayre closed his eyes and rubbed his temples with both hands, "You didn't know Jillian Munro, Ender. We did. She's dead and before we're even given the chance to grieve, we're asked to work with a woman who looks exactly like her, IS HER, but is nothing like her. It's not right. I was going to bring it up with Counselor T'Shaini, but figured I'd run it by you first."

Ender nodded. He took pride in being a hard-ass and wasn't afraid to push his staff but an unhappy staff made unhappy patients, "Alright, listen. Next time I see Harry Finn, I'll talk to him about moving Munro to a different department, until then she's with us. Thorne, if isn't too much to ask, I'm putting you in charge of her schedule, cool?"

"Yeah, it's no problem," she answered. "About the schedule, is there anything important you want me to consider when I'm putting it together?"

"Yeah. Don't let her out of your sight. She goes where you go. Duty breaks, bathroom break, meals, everything." He could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't looking forward to this, "I promise to get her out of our hair as soon as I can."

Tatiana smiled tightly at Seldon, and saluted with her index and middle fingers. "It should be fun," she said with an excitment she didn't feel.

Before the CMO could shoo them out of his office his attention was toward the main examination bay, "So the rumors aren't true, Harry Finn isn't avoiding sickbay."

Ayre stood straight and peered through the door, "Who's the guy rockin the bow-tie?"

JP with Ender Seldon, featuring NPC Matthew Ayre
Originally Posted 12/5/08 by Tatiana Thorne

Simba frowned at his console as he increased the impulse reactor output for the fifth time in the last twenty minutes. He'd been assigned to monitor secondary propulsion systems on his first day in engineering- not the most glamorous job in Starfleet, to say the least.

He thought back over the day's events as he stared into the endless stream of data that scrolled across the console's display. Lt. Costala had retreated to his office some time ago, and the young cadet had yet to formally meet his new department head. His first shift aboard the Hawking and the first official duty he had performed was to attend a service for the engineers who had died on a recent mission. Engineers that Simba had never known, whose lives and deaths and the circumstances surrounding them he knew only through hearsay from his new shipmates. He may not have known the people, but it was obvious that their loss had deeply affected everyone in the room. It had shown him exactly what sort of crew this was, that they were a family. It was a nice feeling, and he looked forward to becoming part of it.

"Problem, Cadet?" A female Vulcan officer walked up behind Simba and stirred him from his thoughts.

Damn, he thought as he realized that he didn't know her name. He was bad with names, and it would probably be a while before he knew everybody's. "Yes, sir. Gravitational flux from the nebula is creating a much stronger pull on the ship than would normally be expected. I've had to increase impulse output to compensate."

The Vulcan nodded as she leaned forward to examine the readings for herself. Either she was just being thorough or she didn't trust the cadet's analysis… Simba could never tell with Vulcans. She raised a single eyebrow as she studied the display. "Curious, gravitational density is unusually high for a nebula of this size. Perhaps the rapid expansion of the phenomenon is responsible." She paused and looked down at Simba. "What is your assessment of the situation, Cadet?"

Simba took a moment and sifted through the data once more in his head. "We'll need to continue to increase engine power if we want to maintain our current distance from the nebula. But I would recommend we pull out to a safer distance."

"We are currently navigating in an attempt to retrieve a small vessel from a gravitational eddy," the Vulcan informed him. "However, your assessment is adequate. We are also concerned that the dense concentration of proto-matter within the nebula may adversely affect the ship's systems and have communicated these concerns with the bridge. You may carry on, Cadet," she stated coolly as she walked away and disappeared around the corner. Simba watched her go, uncertain of how to interpret the situation.

"She was just quizzing you, don't worry about it," said a young Bajoran petty officer working at the console next to his. "She used to do it to me all the time."

Simba smirked confidently. "I'm not worried about it. I'm just glad she thought my assessment was 'adequate.'"

The Bajoran grinned. "That's high praise. Simba, right? I'm Jolan… Tarro Jolan." He extended his hand in human custom.

"It's nice to meet you," Simba replied, shaking his hand.

"You have an accent," Jolan commented. "Where are you from?"

Simba blushed almost imperceptibly. He'd spent a lot of time when he was younger trying not to have an accent, and he had almost forgotten that he did after so many years in San Francisco. "I was born in Ghana," he replied.

Jolan shook his head slightly. "Sorry, I'm not too good with Terran geography."

"It's in the western part of the African Confederation. But…" he said, trying to find a way to change the subject. "I haven't been… home… since I left for Starfleet Academy when I was eighteen. That was six years ago."

"Six years is a long time to spend at the Academy," Jolan pointed out.

"I finished with the Academy two years ago. I have been working at the Starfleet propulsion lab in San Francisco since then… I just never finished earning my commission. The Hawking is my first deep-space assignment."

"Ah, well, welcome aboard then," Jolan replied, smiling, as he turned back to his console.

"Thank you…" Simba's voice trailed off and he returned the smile uneasily. He didn't like to think about his past, and he wasn't exactly comfortable when people brought it up. Not that it was anyone's fault. Tarro Jolan was just making polite conversation. Simba sighed inaudibly as he pushed the thoughts back out of his mind, turned his attention back to the impulse systems, and, once again, increased power to the engines to compensate for the gravitational shear that continued to increase its pull on the Hawking.

Originally Posted 12/5/08 by Simba Wekesa

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

"The eagle has landed!" Ender announced enthusiastically as he entered the main examination bay from his office, "Lieutenant Finn, I was just about to hunt you down."

More like the vulture is circling. Harry gave one, brief, 'why me' to the ceiling before accepting fate and turning to face, "Vultur… Doctor Seldon. Just dropping off our new arrival for a once-over." Despite himself, he felt his gaze drawn to the biobed where Thorne, accompanied by Munro, attended to Camael, who chatted away happily. The old guy had no idea he was being scanned by Jill the Ripper. Not your call… "Was there something you needed?"

Ender reached into his lab pocket and pulled out a medical tricorder, "Say hello to my little friend…", he motioned towards one of the biobeds, "You're overdue for a check-up." He looked down at Harry's bandaged hand, "Or…maybe you've been avoiding sickbay all together."

Harry smiled, sort of. "I've had a check-up. I was cleared for duty by Stryfe before you came aboard and this?" he held up the hand, "I don't come running to the surgeons every time I slip in the john."

"That's a good story, Finn. If I were a cute bubbly 21 year old doctor, I might actually believe you. Turns out I'm not." He pulled the wand out of the tricorder and activated it, "You may have had a check-up with Stryfe but it isn't 'cleared' until the fat lady sings," Ender looked up to make sure Finn was following, "Me, being the fat lady, of course."

"Due respect, Doc but you can stow it," Harry turned and started to exit the room, "I've got some business regarding the sweet old man who mysteriously appeared in the middle of a nebula, so your little power play is just gonna have to wait until…"

"Until what?" Ender leaned back again the biobed, his arms crossed, "Until you go Locutus on everyone's ass?" He held up his hands in surrender, "Look. I know I just got here, but I read the reports. You've been through a lot and you sustained some pretty heavy injuries. For christ sake, you were even…" He glanced over at Munro and quickly decided it a better idea not to bring it up, "…Either you let me do my job or I do my job anyway. You pick."

"Meaning?" Harry, who'd frozen at the mention of Picard's infamous Borg persona, didn't look back.

"Meaning I dismiss you from duty until you're ready to cooperate." Ender waited for the XO to turn around before he continued.

He turned, "Your office." Not waiting for a response, the XO crossed towards the office which had belonged to Slugger.

"Rules are rules, Finn!" He called as he followed Harry into his office.

"And I'm pretty sure I've abided by them," the assertion was low but Finn's eyes were ice hard on the doctor's, "If you've seen the records than you know that every foreign substance was flushed out my system… the codes your newest employee ripped from my skull have all been changed… the other Finn is a corpse and whatever mystical ga ga intel the Wraith sucked out of me… it's stuck in another universe! What's left to look at?"

Ender looked down in frustration, the aggressive approach obviously isn't going to work, "Harry, we don't know each very well yet, but I'm going to tell you a little story," he pinched his finger together to emphasize the 'little', "…about a friend of mine, let's call him Phil. Phil was a decent man, had a good sense of humor, good job, beautiful wife and two children who…" He smiled while reminiscing, "…meant everything to him. One day, Phil was asked to travel to a small moon where a small colony was in need of a doctor. Phil decided to take his family with him. While on route their shuttle was intercepted by pirates. His entire family was slaughtered in front of him." He said matter-of-factly. "The only reason they let him live was because he was a doctor and, how convenient, that's exactly what they needed. A few weeks later, when Starfleet finally pieced together what had happened, he was rescued and taken back to DS9. The first thing doctors wanted to do was 'fix him'. They wanted to put back together the pieces of him that were broken." Ender sat down on the couch, his arms stretched along the back, "You know…for awhile he even had us all fooled," he chuckled softly." I mean, he came back to us with the same sense of duty. Same need to explore. Same curiosity." He paused as his eyes began to glaze over, "…But something was missing. Something had been lost. Something had been taken away from him. We all knew it, but none of us could tell him what it was." Ender let a beat pass before holding up the medical tricorder that he still clutched in his hand, "Now, it's my job to poke, prod and scan you. But I can't 'fix' what I can't see. Nobody goes through what you did and comes out fit for duty," he shook his head, "I won't sign off on that."

He could have come back with the fact that Hawking had a counselor for the kind of shit Seldon was talking about… two, in fact… but then, not like Harry was going that route either. He could just suck it up and do what the guy asked. There were probably a dozen things he could do… "You know what else happens to people who go through what ol' Phil did?" he didn't wait for a response, "They start to feel like they have no power… no control over… anything… so they make it their business to see how far they can get the next schmuck to bend over so it's not just them who's powerless. It's everyone." Harry's head tilted, ever so slightly, "How far do you need to see me bend to make you feel better about yourself?"

Ender smiled. He was beginning to like this guy. He reached to his desk for a PADD and began typing, "My self gratification is entirely dependent on your completion of five sessions with Counselor T'Shaini." He handed the PADD to Finn, "It's no magic number but…it's a start."

Resigned, Finn took the PADD. Hell, not like there was a time frame on the sessions. He could conceivably put it off for another…

"The medical exam, on the other hand, can be performed right now." Ender stood up, "Why don't we get that out of the way?"

"Gods! What? Did you have a pit bull for a mother?" Harry had to stop himself from throwing the PADD, or worse, a punch, at the smug bastard. "And the answer's no, the physical can't be peformed right now," he held up the hand with the PADD to forestall yet another maneuver, "Two reasons… one, I really do have to see to the disposition of gramps out there… you should say hi to the man, by the way… he's a frigging hoot… and two," the First Officer paused a moment because it made his world go gray just thinking about… Harry looked down, waiting for his vision to settle… "two is… not while she's in the room. Not in front of Munro." He raised his eyes to Seldon's, "You can give me that much… just that."

Ender let out a quick sigh and let his eyes lock on to Finn's, "Right", he nodded,"…we'll reschedule…Sorry." He offered.

A half-assed shrug was the best he could do. "I'll be in the corridor… when he's done," Finn said, moving on as quickly as possible.

Seldon felt a pang of guilt as he watched him walk away. Maybe I'm pushing too hard, there was no way Ender could truly understand what had happened on that other ship and he knew that know matter how many counseling sessions he referred Harry to, it wouldn't be enough. In fact, Harry may never re-tell his story, If he does, it'll be on his own terms. Ender rubbed the back of his head with his hand before stepping into the doorway of his office, he looked across the room and saw Jill studying readouts on a wall console, "Munro!" he called, "Get over here…I'd like to have a word with you."

A JP by Harry Finn & Ender Seldon.
Originally Posted 12/5/08 by Ender Seldon

-Constable's Office-

"Do I look dead to you?" Pierce asked the female Petty Officer in exasperation. "I know I don't look my best but I just arrived with the Sagittarius." Ben was fully aware that he looked like something the cat dragged in, but there was a good reason for that, considering the state of the Sagittarius upon their return.

"Crewman Pierce is listed as Killed In Action aboard the USS Lakota," the security officer replied primly. "Our records say Pierce was decorated for valor and promoted post-humously but that he is most deffinitely dead." She scrolled down on her screen. "And there's no addendum that Pierce is alive or that he has been found to be living, that's why you were bought here when security logged you trying to use Benjamin Hyde Pierce's identity."

"I am Benjamin Hyde Pierce!!" he replied in an annoyed tone.

"Sir, do not shout at me," the woman stated, "Your claim is tenuous as it is. Do you know the penalty for posing as a member of StarFleet? And not to mention the gall of posing as someone decorated for meritous service.."

"I don't know about medals or promotions but I am Pierce..need proof? Take a blood sample!" Ben yelled as he shoved his arm across the counter. The other officers in the room must have thought the move was threatening because they tackled him and hauled Ben to the floor. They were a couple of stout lads, built like gorrillas.

"Get off me you four-flusher!" There was a brief struggle then Pierce sagged to the floor. He was exhausted and his body couldn't endure anymore stress. The journey to DS9 had been tough on the Sagittarius' crew. They'd been towed back but every hour had had them patching sections of the ship so they could hold it together and make the station. Ben had been working non-stop since the Lakota Incident, surviving on adrenaline and ration bars and suddenly it all caught up with him.

"Take a urine sample if you need it," he continued, Ben's tongue not as tired as the rest of his body. "Hell, I'll bump a cup, if you need that kind of sample." The female security officer blushed and shook her head as the head gorilla twisted Pierce's arm back. Security people tackling me is one habit I'd like to change. BHP thought as he felt something press against his neck then heard the familiar hiss of a hypospray. "I'm Pierce, check with Admiral Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuu…"


Ben woke up face down in a swirl of warm. It was the most comfort he had experienced in weeks and he sighed and relaxed into the biobed. He was about to drift off when the polite sound of someone quietly clearing their throat got his attention. BHP looked up to find a command officer with Commander's pips standing beside his bed.

"Sir." Ben sat up and waited.

"Petty Officer, you've been asleep for almost twelve hours," Commander Pantangelo said in a kindly voice. "You were brought here after that..unpleasantness in the Constable's office." Ben opened his mouth to explain but Pantangelo raised his hand to stop any unnecessary explanation. "It is perfectly natural to be concerned if someone informs you that you are considered deceased. That was the reason why the CO had me investigate your claim. I contacted Admiral Lee and Commander Pev and have statements from each, I would however like to hear your account of what took place after you spoke with Admiral Lee."

Pierce nodded in agreement then plunged into his account of what transpired on the USS Lakota and how he left the doomed ship, and then his miraculous discovery of the Sagittarius crew. "They were great Commander, saved my bacon and made me feel right at home," Ben said. He grinned as he thought about Melinda, Eryn and Pev.

"I will report your story to the proper authorities and we'll work from there to get your re-instatement Pierce," the officer assured him. "After the doctor determined you were who you claimed to be, we contacted Admiral Lee. She is very glad you're alive and very grateful for what you did. Admirals don't forget a kindness."

"Commander, you called me Petty Officer?" Ben inquired.

"It's your rank. The Admiral cleared your record and promoted you, now she is happy that you are alive to enjoy both. Oh I almost forgot," the officer reached into his pocket and removed a small silver and black case. "This is also yours," Pantangelo indicated as he gave the case to Pierce.

Ben knew what was inside. Purple Heart. The engineer opened the case gingerly, his fingers nervous as the lid snapped open to reveal the medal that lay inside the case. It was not what he had expected. "Sir? This is..this is the Christopher Pike Medal for Valor..I thought they only give this to officers?" Ben asked in confusion.

"It's awarded to any member of StarFleet who displays valor in extraordinary circumstances, Petty Officer," Commander Pantangelo explained, "Admiral Lee could not think of any other acknowledgement of your sacrifice that was quite as fitting."

Benjamin Hyde Pierce, hardened gangster from Sigma Iotia II, who had lost more than most people by the time he was an adolescent found that he had no words. "I..I.." Pierce stopped speaking and swallowed, then said, "I want to show it to my girl. She's aboard the Hawking. Can you get me there Commander?"

Featuring NPC Benjamin Hyde Pierce
Originally Posted 12/6/08 by Javier Costala

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Captain’s Quarters ::

Upon entering the normally quiet room, Nils knew the solitude he’d come here seeking would remain out of his reach. His irritation with Finn and his disappointment at the noise level that currently greeted him brought a great sigh from his chest. The sight before him didn't make things much better. The First sat in the middle of the room with his legs crossed and blaring music filled the modest suite with ancient Bajoran monastic chants.

“These are not very cheerful,” the nameless acolyte said, looking up at the man who’d taken him from his dark existence.

“They're not meant to be cheerful, First. They are for meditating. The monks who predated the Vedek assembly wrote them to bring them clarity in their search for the Prophets.” Nils waved his hand as if to shoo away the subject. “But what are you doing here?”

“Oh,” the acolyte said looking a bit startled. He quickly jumped to his feet and closed the distance between the two men. “I thought you said… When we left the station and I was cleared to stay on board you said that I could come here whenever I… I apologize, your holi… Captain.” The First lowered his head.

Nils closed his eyes and pressed his thumb and forefinger into the headache that hadn’t left him for over a week. “Computer, end music… No, it’s fine. I mean, you can… Come here. I’m just not feeling very well.”

“I do apologize if I’ve made myself a nuisance. But I’ve been studying the Bajoran faith – your Bajoran faith. And Bayal Paven said that these hymns may be of use to me.” The younger man appeared perplexed as he followed Nils to the bedroom area. “Thus far they have been of no use. I still feel no connection to your Prophets.”

Hawking’s CO sighed deeply and collapsed onto his bed, stretching his arms and legs as far apart as they would go. “That doesn’t surprise me. They never helped me either.”

The nameless leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. He watched the man who bore the face of his brother. But even though they looked exactly alike, the two Torrik Nils’ couldn’t have been any different. It had taken the First a long time to accept who this man, the Starfleet version of his brother, really was. And an affection that had been aborted in his own childhood had sprung forth full bloomed as soon as he realized this man could and truly would be the brother he never had.

“Shouldn’t you be on duty?” The First’s eyes dropped to the floor when he asked. He knew all too well why Nils chose to stay in his quarters more and more often.

“No actually,” the elder Bajoran said with an ironic smile. “I’m off duty.” He paused before admitting, “But I should probably be on the bridge. See that?” From his bed, Nils pointed out the viewport at the swirling nebula that filled the view. “It’s a big mysterious nebula full of strangeness and a little old man. It’s a complete puzzle to astrophysics and science as a whole. It is the reason I joined the fleet.”

“Yet you stay in your room, stretched out on your bed,” the First finished. “Grief is foreign to me.” His tone was innocent, but the unspoken context brought up a subject they’d never discussed.

Nils decided not to speak. He pulled his lips inside his mouth and chewed on them. He’d been present when Jillian died and he saw how the acolyte had tried to fight off the alternate Harry Finn. It was no more the First’s fault that Jillian died than it was the real Harry Finn – the Finn that Nils had almost considered a friend before their last mission. But try as he might to cling to the rationale that said these men held no responsibility to Jillian’s death, his pagh still shuddered when he looked at either one of them.

“Captain…” The acolyte approached the bed and sat down, putting his back to the man he’d come to admire. “I’ve been party to death my whole life. It has been a companion to me. Yet the death of your… The weight of your grief holds me as much as it holds you.”

“Not as much,” Nils snapped. He regretted his tone before he finished speaking.

“No,” admitted the First. “Not as much. I misspoke, your holiness. Forgive me.”

It hurt Nils to hear the image of his brother call him by the title that the monster from the mirror universe bore. But it was also telling. Something in Nils was monstrous. And it always had been. Pain and grief to him had been like a cloak he’d wrapped himself up in. It kept him isolated and separate. And his own pain begat pain in others when he let it hold sway.

“No… Forgive me, First,” the CO said quietly. In an attempt to keep from repeating his past and a pattern that had dominated his destiny he chose to speak. It went against his fiber and took considerable will. But he tried to make a connection. “I’m just…sad. And it makes me… I don’t know. You haven’t done anything wrong and you don’t have to call me holiness either.” Nils tried to smile, but he knew it looked unnatural. It certainly felt that way.

The First peered over his shoulder and answered. “Right… I’m sorry, Captain.”

“Call me, Nils. I’m not your captain. And I’d like to be…” A rush of his own breath cut him off and he held his tongue. He couldn’t be this man’s brother. No matter how badly he wanted to. “Monastic music may not be what the vedek ordered, but perhaps some old readings would shed light on our religion. I found several of the prophetic texts to be very enlightening when I chose to reconnect to the Prophets.” The young CO forced himself out of bed and pulled out some bound texts from his footlocker.

“You had to reconnect with your Prophets?” The First seemed intrigued. “I thought it was the religion of your parents.”

“Long story,” Nils said dismissing the younger man’s query. The look of dejection in the First’s eyes halted him however. “And it goes something like this…”

Featuring NPC Torrik Jachin
Originally Posted 12/6/08 by Torrik Nils

'Move along little girl,' her thoughts prodded as she walked.

Emily had been pacing up and down the same corridor for almost thirty minutes. She would stop, say a few words then turn around and after a few moments stop, say a bit more then turn around. It was like watching a hyper dog attached to a short lead. Back and forth. Back and forth. Always thinking it would end with an extra step in either direction, a revelation to stop the insanity of moving about.

She'd even had people pass and stare at her.

"Emily?" a voice said from behind. A voice filled with curiosity, worry and a hint of disbelief, "Are you alright? Someone said there was a crazy security officer pacing near the labs."

"and you automatically assumed it was me?" she said with a snort.

Alex Gorsky gave her an odd look, "Noo, I was more surprised to see that it was you. Surprised, worried…uhh do I need to call a medic? or Counselor?"

She relaxed and put her hands, which were fiddling with each other, at her side, "No I'm fine."

"Are you sure? People who are generally fine walk in one direction and keep going." he emphasized the 'going' part of his sentence.

"Well, that is generally true." she sighed, "That's the rather embarrasing bit of this I guess seeing as I hadn't even thought that anyone passing me would be heading into the lab …and hence past you ..or anyone who knew you or would even comment on.."

"Your doing that babbling thing again," he interjected.

"Yea," she lifted a hand and tapped her lip, "Well despite the pacing and babbling I am fine. I was actually coming to see you. This time for a rather normal purpose other than before when I seemed to make you think I was a little crazy."

Alex nodded, raised his hand and squeezed his thumb and index finger together, "Just a little..at first."

"Yea…about that," she continued, "I wanted to just make sure that things were cool between us. I really enjoy hanging out, even if I don't understand half the things you say. I'd hate to think I'd messed that up…not that there was much to mess up but.." she stopped, "You get what I mean."

He nodded,"It's fine. I actually seem to owe you an apology. I never did get to see Finn or talk to him."

"Which could be a good thing." Emily added.

"True."he gave a crooked smile,"I also wanted to acknowledge that whatever you sensed wasn't completely insane. I know that at the time I may have reacted, well as any normal person would in the same situation. But now knowing what I know I can guarantee that next time it will be different."

Emily smiled, "Thank you." she knew he didn't have to say anything but it meant a lot that he had. She'd felt like a complete idiot saying anything in the first place and after the dust settled she felt no glory in knowing she had been right. People were dead, hearts shattered and it didn't matter at all what she had known.

"Are you off shift?" Alex asked.

"No…actually I've wasted a good fourty five minutes of my shift doing this and I pray I don't get into too much trouble for it."

"I think I heard someone calling in about a lost security officer who was mumbling and stalking crewmembers." Alex said, pointing his thumb back towards the lab.

"What!" she quietly shrieked," I'd really better get going." she waved, "Let me know your schedule."

Em rushed off, heading towards where she should have been.

"I was just kidding," Gorsky muttered heading back to his work.

Featuring NPC Alex Gorksy (Becase he needed to get out and I needed someone to bug)
Originally Posted 12/6/08 by Emily Star

USS Hawking
Deck 5 Corridor

“You off-shift?”

Jenny turned to her left, where Harry was currently entering data into one of the corridor’s wall consoles and looking… not so great. “No… off to the armory… I’m technically covering breaks today.” She nodded towards sickbay, “Chief is confident he can handle the detail until his backup arrives, and, well, you’re here, too.”

“Right… right.” Though if T’Shaini responded to his call, she’d be taking over the guest relations. The conversation with Seldon had left him… well hopefully Wendy would respond quickly. Harry tapped in an authorization for Camael’s room assignment… the guy struck gold with 343… VIP to the nines and the only guest quarters not bearing obvious signs of the IAS incursion. It had, according to the reports, been assigned to Zal Malkat and while violence had been done in that room… it hadn’t been done to the furniture. “How’s the patient doing?”

Jenny glanced back towards sickbay where the elderly guest was being seen to and clearly enjoying all the attention. “He’s fine… he should be out in a couple of minutes.” Jenny didn’t have to ask why Harry was waiting out in the hall, rather than inside with their visitor. It had been a shock to her, as well, seeing Jill Munro. Jen was more than a little conflicted in that area: how do you treat the person who’d saved your life while admitting she’d viciously tortured your godfather? “I kind of wish I could stay with Camael…”

“Well, you might see him around for longer than he expected,” the XO said, turning to lean back on the wall, his eyes moving up towards the safe neutrality of the ceiling, “word from the brainiacs and engineering is that we’re going to have to move away from the nebula’s perimeter sooner rather than later… I don’t think we’re going to be able to salvage the old guy’s ship.”

“Oh, that’s… well… darn it.”

Harry looked back down at the young woman, “Darn it?”

“I’ve been trying to tone down the epithets,” she replied, almost primly.

“Costala was thinking maybe you’d been spending too much time with the engineers…” the words were out of his mouth before he had the chance to think and while her expression didn’t alter, the planes of her face did get a bit… hard. “I’m sorry,” he added, quickly, “I’m sorry about Pierce. I’m sorry he’s gone and I’m sorry I never met him but, Jen… I am grateful, beyond grateful… that he was here for you when I couldn’t be. And I’m sorry I wasn’t here when… when you heard…”

“It’s not your fault,” Jenny assured him, though deep, deep inside there was that which shuddered over the memories. That part of her which remembered who had been there when she’d learned that Ben had been killed.

Harry saw the change in her… hell, he’d watched her grow up… there wasn’t a lot Seth Anderson’s daughter could hide from him. “All the same…”

“I should move on,” Jenny told him, finding it much harder to speak to Harry than she’d ever have thought. “Work…”

“Yeah,” he spared them both by looking towards the entrance to sickbay, where Camael and Jameson were just appearing, “same here.” It was kind of freaky, how the little old guy perked up the atmosphere. Kind of like the first cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. He turned back to Jenny, “I’ll tag you…” but, that last was said to the air; Jenny had already gone, “later.”

Darn it.

“Ahh, Lt. Finn…”

Harry shifted his attention back to the bustling job at hand while, twenty meters distant, safely out of her godfather’s line of sight, Jenny paused to take in a shaky breath. A breath that got a lot more shaky when a sudden and cold breeze muttered across her skin, frost-fingers tapping out some ancient code of desperation which she couldn’t understand.

Originally Posted 12/7/08 by Jenny Anderson

USS Hawking
Sick Bay

T'Shaini's walk slowed as she reached the entrance to sickbay, while intreguied by the presence of their visitor, she was oddly apprehensive about encountering Harry. The frown of realization had barely crossed her forehead when the subject of her thoughts stepped out of the doorway accompanied by William, such a sturdy presence, and….oh, how….adorable. "You must be Camael." The counselor reached out to grasp his hand warmly and felt something deep within relax at the contact. "I am T'Shaini, the ship's Counselor and I believe I am here to escort you to your quarters." She said with a quirk of her eyebrow toward Harry.

"Oh, that's very kind… this is such a nice ship," Camael smiled brightly at Harry, who managed a brief quirk of the lips in return, "but is it… would it be too… I mean, my little ship is so small, I wonder if it's acceptable to perambulate a bit before settling? Perhaps meet some more of your very fine crew?"

Harry looked at Jameson, who'd been around when their last 'guests' had started shooting. Bill gave a short nod so then the XO sucked it up and turned to Wendy, "Commander, does your schedule allow for a tour?"

"It can easily be made so." Considering the three people she would consider a priority were not about to sit down it was an easier job that it should have been. After a quick comm exchange with David, T'Shaini turned back to the rather diverse little group and smiled. "I am completely at your disposal."

"… I can tell you that if the nebula stabilizes we'll make another go, but for now…" Harry turned back to the Counselor, "oh, great. Sorry. Just letting Mr. Camael…"

"Just Camael!"

"Right… just Camael, know that we haven't completely given up on his vessel."

"It is appreciated," the warm eyes glinted at Harry, then twinkled towards T'Shaini, "always appreciated when people do not… give up."

T'Shaini smiled in return, it was impossible to resist…but how had he known? Did he know? Impossible Leaning down slightly she hooked her arm in his. "I concur wholeheartedly." She snuck a look at Harry to see if it had hit him as it had her, but it was difficult to tell, he was so shadowed nowadays…what was one more dimension in the shadow? "Where would you like to go first, my good sir?"

Camael positively beamed, "Where are the most people?"

"Well, I would suggest either the mess or Event Horizon. Are you also interested in either food or drink?"

"Oh, now, then," well-worn hands rubbed with glee, "I daresay a… what was it? Oh, yes, a 'hot toddy' would go down something marvelous… are you sure you won't join us?" The merry face descended once more on Harry.

"No, but thank you," Finn replied, calmly. With a short nod towards Jameson and a brief slide of the eyes past Wendy, "I'll leave you to it. If you have any questions, or need any further assistance, feel free to contact me, anytime." And with that, he was on the move.

A pang of sadness plucked at the Counselor watching Harry's instant retreat from the joy that this newcomer was surrounded by. "Ah well." With a squeeze of Camael's arm she started down the corridor toward the lift. "Event Horizon it is, I am certain you will encounter many of the crew there…and if nothing else, Dalluk and Xer will make the trip well worth your while."

Camael's attention had been drawn by the bleak First Officer's efficient departure, "Oh what a noble mind is here ore'thrown'…"

Following his gaze T'Shaini let the words carry her along. "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."

With bird-like tilt of the head, Camael patted the hand she had laid on his elbow, "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will?" His eyes deepened but the smile remained as warm and bright, "But for now perhaps it's best to settle for a nice drink with new friends…"


Jameson followed the amiable pair, relieved that, at least, the poetry hour had finally ended. Now, if they'd been quoting the endless wisdom of Bugs Bunny…

JP featuring Harry Finn as everybody but Tee…
Originally Posted 12/6/08 by T'Shaini

The cherry blossom broke free of the branch, aided by the sudden breeze, it wafted back and forth, slowly spinning before it nestled in the grass beside one of the many pools that decorated the grounds of Edo castle. Terasakai smiled, finding enjoyment and distraction in the simple flowing movement with which the blossom alighted on the carpet of grass. In his mind he retraced the movements and patterned them with the practiced moves of his katana, each stroke of the sword flowing with the wind-blown blossom.

It is as Master Oichi instructed, the apprentice thought. Seek a pattern in nature and model your movements upon the truth that is found therein. I will remember this at a later juncture, for now..

A grunt from his companion, none other than Master Oichi himself, alerted Terasakai that his superior was aware that his thoughts were not upon his current assignment. Terasakai bowed his head respectfully, acknowledging his fault and hoping his punishment would not be too severe. He would be rebuked once they reached the lodgings the retainers of the daimyo of Ako, for now his attention should be upon protecting Asano Naganori.

Within the banquet room that he and Oichi guarded, Terasakai could hear the raised voice of Kira Yoshinaka berating his lord once more for his lack of metropolitan courtesy. It took discipline to keep his features passive while listening to the disrespect with which Kira addressed Asano Naganori. Kira is a sniveling court official and now he dares to dishonor my Lord Asano, and he does so in the presence of Lord Kamei, Terasakai thought angrily as his hand moved towards the hilt of his wakizashi. The retainers of Kamei followed his hand's movement, ready for any hint of treachery towards their daimyo. The royal guards of Edo castle also watched Terasakai. To draw one's sword within the walls of the shogun's residence was to condemn oneself to death.

"Patience," Oichi hissed at the young samurai, "do nothing that would bring dishonor to Lord Asano."

Terasakai moved his hand so that it rested in the folds of his robe instead of clutching his short sword's hilt. He was ready to die for the honor of his lord but would not do anything to dishonor Asano's name. The guards and samurai of Kamei relaxed somewhat as the men all watched each other in uncertainty. For his part, Terasakai was one of Naganori's retainers but also his friend. The two had lived close to each other as children, they had attended the same school and began training together and Terasakai had treated the younger boy as one of his brothers. The two had become fast friends until the day when the Asano family had been given their own royal house and a fief in the province of Honshu. Now Terasakai served the young Asano duke, one of a small cadre of loyal samurai that had sworn allegiance to the daimyo.

A shrill cry issued from within the banquet hall and the castle guards moved towards the doors. Terasakai was quicker and Oichi deliberately blocked the doors with his size so the younger samurai would be the first in the hall. Inside he found Lord Kamei standing to the side while Kira leaned against a panelling, moaning as blood spilled down the front of his satin robe. Lord Asano stood over Kira, his face a mixture of hostile emotions as he brandished a blood-stained tanto.

"Do not insult my family, you son of a pig," Naganori spoke as he approached Kira, "the Shogun himself chose me as his retainer."

"My lord, no!" Terasakai said as he ran towards the two men and placed himself between Naganori and Kira.

Naganori attempted to push Terasakai aside but the samurai stood his ground. "Remove yourself Terasakai," the daimyo ordered, still holding the dagger.

"Respectfully my Lord I cannot," Terasakai replied. "Please give me your dagger Lord." Without waiting for Naganori to reply he grasped the dagger and swiftly disarmed the younger man. "My pardon Lord Asano."

The samurai of Lord Kamei entered the room and guarded their charge, taking up defensive stances around his royal person but drawing no weapon lest they break the law of castle Edo and bring disgrace upon their daimyo. The castle guards entered with Oichi in their midst. The master samurai's eyes took in the scene before him. The guards approached, ready to arrest the daimyo who had drawn his weapon in the protected halls of the Tokugawa Shogun.

"I drew my weapon, thinking my lord was at risk..I struck the bakufu, the fault is mine alone," Terasakai claimed. But the guards knew better, seeing the wounded Kira and hearing his groans. They also noticed that the scabbard of Asano Naganori was empty while that of his samurai still held its blade.

"I struck him," Naganori said, sealing his fate. "He dishonored my family with his coarse speech. You cannot take the blame for my actions, Terasakai." The daimyo patted his friend on the shoulder as the castle guards prepared to escort the daimyo to a guarded room. Naganori would remain there until the Shogun ordered his death.

Javier blinked and looked around the bar. Did I just fall asleep? Or did I drink too much and drift off? the engineer thought as his eyes rested on the drink in front of him. The glass of port was still untouched. The dream had been very..different? The engineer had been himself but not himself. What did they call me? Terasaki? Teriyaki? Javier thought in confusion. He reached for his glass and tipped the drink down his throat. "Oof," the Chief said when the strength of the wine hit his tastebuds. It had been sometime since he had inhaled any amount of wine.

I was actually there, where ever there is..Terasakai? That sounds correct. Javier stared at his empty glass. He wasn't much of a drinker but after struggling through the letter of condolence he had written to the parents of Bilara Wakeel, the engineer figured a drink would settle his nerves. And in some way he had thought that perhaps the atmosphere of the Event Horizon would raise his spirits. He perked up when T'Shaini entered the room. Javier didn't recognize the older man with her but as he studied the room's decor his eyes fell on Javier and the man waved to him. Do I know him? the engineer wondered as he stood to his feet and made his way over to T'Shaini and the curious old man.

Originally Posted 12/7/08 by Javier Costala

Deck 10 | (Just after visitors transport)

"How are things on your end?"

Matt looked up and smiled. "Oh you know, it is always a hoot to browse over ship protocols." He ended with a laugh as he tossed the padd he had been glancing through on the desk in front of him.

Training ship's staff in basic operations and protocol had to be one of the main duties of the Boatswain, though as far as Matt was concerned, one of the dullest. He had trouble focusing on the standard dribble this past hour, he shuddered to think how it would be going over this material every time there were staff changes, or updates required. But then he had always been more of a 'hands-on' man, more so than the theory.

"Well it is important information," Indi Corin responded. A slight smile touched her lips with chagrin. "…especially for a new Operation's Officer."

Matt snorted. "It's not like there is much difference from one ship to another." He indicated to the discarded padd which held the standard Starfleet information. "This is the same smack they handed out on the Knight when we first boarded."

Indi frowned. "But there are different operational procedures for an Achilles class compared with an Intrepid-"

"When we get to that part of the training, maybe I will try and look a bit more interested." Matt cut her off with a laugh. "But for now, I am having trouble maintaining some modicum of brain activity."

A small smile touched her lips once more.

"Well the Captain has requested that I set up guest quarters for our new visitor, so you might as well take a break." She responded, pointing to the padd she had clutched in her hand.

"Oh?" Matt inquired, having not yet heard about the Hawking's new guest.

"I'm told we rescued an elderly gentleman from the Nebula. From all reports he seems harmless enough, rather nice I hear."

"You should go have yourself a nice little visit, just for a bit of a change." Matt laughed, referring to her earlier explanation on how Cam Atwood had been doing on her last visit.

Indi flushed. "He isn't that b-bad…" She stammered, "…once you get to know him."

Matt shrugged, he hadn't even met the infamous Boatswain yet. Not that it would make much of a difference. Matt's ability to get on with most people didn't stem from his own ability to attract all personality types, but more from his inability to connect emotionally, on any level with others. It's not that he didn't care about others on a basic level, he just couldn't make himself feel enough to care what others said or thought. On the outside, he was polite, he functioned, he was everything that they thought he needed to be. But inside, he couldn't find the need to care on anything deeper, on anything others found consumed them each day… happiness, laughter, love… it was almost foreign to him.

"You ok?" Indi frowned. She didn't like to invade on anyone's privacy, but she couldn't help notice the dark emotions that seemed to swirl suddenly within the cadet.

Matt blinked. "Yeah, all good. Might take that break after all." He responded swiftly, pushing away from the desk, leaving Indi in stunned silence.

He finally let out a breath as he stormed his way towards the turbo lift. "Deck 8." He knew he had probably worried the young Boatswain's mate, but the need to get away had been too overwhelming. He wondered if she had read his mind or just picked up on his disturbing change. He wasn't usually this unstable, but sometimes his past came up and bit him in the ass when he least expected it.

Matt verbally sighed. It was why Starfleet still required him to attend sessions with a counselor each week. He hadn't met any of the Hawking's counselors yet, but he always attended the sessions with minimal complaint.

He couldn't force himself to care about that either.

He kept his thought's neutral as he moved into the quarters he shared with Wekesa, thankful that the usually cheerful cadet wasn't present. The photo that sat beside his bed subconsciously called him, forcing him to drop beside it on his bunk and stare painfully. Two sets of beautiful eyes stared happily back at him. Two identical smiles. Matt dragged his tortured gaze away from the picture that presented a cheerful moment from his past. Unable to do anything else he allowed the grief to twist around his heart, he allowed the past to enter his thoughts.

He began to drown in it…

Originally Posted 12/7/08 by Matt Hudson

Simba Wekesa walked along the corridor on deck eight, humming cheerfully. His first shift in engineering had been long and mostly uneventful, but it was somewhat satisfying after the overly-eventful training cruise on the Knight. "Hello," he said, smiling, to a passing crewman as he approached the door to his quarters and pressed his thumb to the keypad. The computer chirped and the door slid open. "Hey Matt, how was your day?" he asked casually as he flopped down on his bunk and kicked off his boots.

Matt looked up at the new arrival, swiftly concealing the pain he had been drowning in. He pushed off from his bed and moved towards the replicator and gave a nonchalant shrug. "Oh you know, protocol and basic operations training." He responded finally after studying the replicator for a few moments. "Want anything?" He asked lightly.

Simba sat up slightly, glancing over to see what Matt was doing. "Tea with ginger, please." He laid back on the bunk, folding his arms behind his head. "Operations training, huh? Sounds like fun."

Matt forced himself to grin. "Don't worry, I believe Chief Petty Officer Corin has scheduled you for sometime tomorrow." He responded with a lighthearted chuckle. "After all it is the Bosun's duty to make sure all new personnel are trained in basic ship operations and protocol." He responded before asking, "Hot or cold?"


"One tea with ginger, hot and one glass of water, chilled."

The beverages soon materialized. Matt grabbed both and made his way over to his new roommate before retiring to his own bunk.

"Thanks," said Simba, sitting up to take the cup from Matt. He took a sip of the hot liquid and breathed in as the aroma of the spice filled his sinuses. "How's the staff in operations, seem nice enough?"

"Yeah not too bad. Though I haven't yet met the infamous Atwood." Matt responded with a chuckle. "Word is he is a mean bugger!" He placed his drink down, not feeling at all thirsty.

Simba grinned mischievously. "Sounds like you're going to have all kinds of fun. I haven't really met Lt. Costala yet, except for a brief introduction this morning. A lot of the other engineers are really nice, though." He looked over at Matt and frowned at the untouched glass of water. "Are you alright?"

For the first time since Simba had entered, Matt looked up and made eye contact. His previous grief had now faded, with his usual persona taking over once more. "Oh yeah, just not thirsty!" He responded with a grin, hoping the cadet would ignore the obvious.

Simba wasn't buying it. "Nah, come on Matt, what's really going on with you?" He hoped he wasn't being too presumptuous… after all, the two Cadets really hadn't known each other for more than a few weeks. But they had bonded almost immediately in training, and Simba had never seen Matt quite so melancholy before. He propped his head up on his elbow and looked over at Hudson, gauging how far to press his friend for information.

Matt shook his head. He liked Simba well enough, but he had never been the 'on the sleeve' type of guy. Not even with the counselors. He had no intention of starting now.

"Alright, if you say so," Wekesa replied quietly. He picked up his tea and took another sip, looking around the sparse quarters. "You know, I was thinking earlier that we are going to need to do some redecorating in this place." His eyes fell on one of the few personal affects in the room, sitting on the small table next to Matt's bed. "It must be difficult to be away from your loved ones so much… how old is your daughter?"

Matt refused to allow his eyes to fall on the picture. It added to his own personal torment, but he refused to put it away, even knowing that others would be curious.

Matt frowned. "She is- was six." He responded, forcing the pain from his voice. It was only normal that Simba would ask. He forced his eyes to once again make contact, smiling slightly. "How about you, do you have anyone to miss?"

Simba furrowed his brow almost imperceptibly at Matt's comment. Was six. Part of him wanted to ask, to understand what his friend was going through, but he didn't want to pry and make things any more painful. If Matt wanted to talk about it, he would and, curious as he was, he wasn't about to be nosy. Instead, he focused on Matt's question. "Nah, I haven't talked to my parents since I left for the Academy." He paused, reflecting on his family and his tenuous relationship with them. It all seemed so long ago, like another lifetime, and that's exactly where he preferred it to stay.

Matt nodded. His own relationship with his father was dubious, at least it had been since the death of his mother. During his four years at the Academy, Matt had been the dutiful son, visited him on breaks, holidays, kept up old family traditions. But even his human father knew that something just wasn't quite right. Not that he had ever probed his son, more happy that he was at least alive and well to be bothered focusing on the 'deep and meaningful'. Of course with Matt, well was a pertinent question.

Matt stood suddenly. "I better get back." He spoke aloud, though not seemingly to Simba. "I have a few things to do for Chief Petty Officer Corin, namely get in touch with a few of the new arrivals." He turned back to look at Simba and winked. "Don't forget you have that operations and protocol induction tomorrow."

Simba cracked one of his trademark grins. "Oh, I can't wait. Do you want to do something when you get done with your shift? No Romulan warbirds this time, I promise… maybe check out the Event Horizon?"

Matt allowed himself a grin. "Sure thing."

"Sounds good… call me when you get off-duty." Simba watched Matt straighten his uniform and walk out the door, then rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. It was metallic grey, just like everything else in their quarters. This place definitely needed a splash of color. He pondered his options for a moment, then reached over for the nearly-empty teacup and took a final drink. The liquid was getting cold and unappealing. Simba sighed as he stood up from his bunk and noticed the still-full glass of water next to Matt's bed. As he picked it up, he couldn't help but glance at the photo sitting next to it once again. Pensively, he put the water and his empty cup into the replicator and, tapping the controls, watched as they dissolved in a shimmer of blue light and disappeared.

This post brought to you in TECHNICOLOR by Matt Hudson and Simba Wekesa.
Originally Posted 12/7/08 by Simba Wekesa

USS Hawking
First Officer’s Quarters

“Lights,” Harry ordered, “fifty… no, twenty percent.” The dimmer the better. In the dark, for a time at least, he could hide. He could avoid the eyes filled with pity or curiosity or the silky overtones of disgust when the watchers recalled the other Finn and what he’d done.

Standing very still, Harry closed his own eyes and tried to escape from himself.

”His entire family was slaughtered in front of him…” Sender’s tale joined the tarantella of despair already spinning through Harry’s soul.

Which just goes to show, the niggling voice slithered through the silent man’s thoughts, how little difference you’ve made. All those years in JAG, mindlessly pursuing that mythical creature called ‘Justice’ and what do you have to show? Pirates still troll the stars, murdering innocents; new crime bosses take the place of the old… with your help, according to Vail's report; more good people die and yet, you still keep coming back… Harry Finn, the hollow man, who’s path is strewn with the dead. The words were accompanied by a wicked stabbing at the base of his skull, so like when the Pah Wraith had tossed him aside like yesterday’s trash.

The splintering pain of his bandaged hand pounding into the wall dulled the ache and put a halt to the diatribe which had been haunting him, waking and sleeping, since his return to the Hawking. It wouldn’t last but for the moment the renewed sting of the lacerations, and the endorphins released by it, offered some peace.

He felt his eyes drawn to the replicator.

There might be another way to quiet the voices.

Moving, he didn’t even hear the blaring of internal sirens, warning him to not… not take this last, fatal step… the one that would end his career for good and all. “Whiskey, two fingers, nea….”

He paused then as the internal sirens went critical… shifting to an external thrumming so intense it shook the bulkhead, causing Harry to turn away from the promise of oblivion just in time for the vibrations to reach a full crescendo and thereby produce…


Produce a ludicrously cheerful voice, attached to a ludicrously cheerful young man in a ludicrously… ludicrous suit, bursting out of the door of the… rather large and antiquated box which was now sitting smack in the middle of Harry’s living area. “Sorry to barge in unexpected but, I’m looking for Harry Finn. Would you be he?”

“I… think so,” more bemused than alarmed, Harry stared at the stranger, then up at the words imprinted on the top of the strange conveyance which read, ‘Police Public Call Box’, then back to the other man. “And… you would be…?”

“Ohhh, well,” the smile trebled and it didn’t matter that the room was washed in shadows… the entire place lit up, “I’m The Doctor!”

Harry, without shifting his gaze a centimeter, addressed the replicator, “About that whiskey?”


“Make it a double.”

Harry and The Doctor, doing their bit for Pop Culture!
Originally Posted 12/8/08 by Harry Finn

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Captain’s Quarters ::

“So the Prophet’s sent the Tears to Bajor over time as a means to establish communion with the Bajoran people?” The First seemed genuinely interested in the finer points of this universes version of his home planet.

“Yes,” agreed Nils gravely. “They’ve come to us over ten thousand years and provide wisdom to any who are fortunate enough to have contact with them. These means of revelation are foundational to our theological system.”

“Interesting,” the acolyte commented as he continued to peruse the texts they’d been skimming through together. “It is hard for me to actualize a concept in which the powers that be are benevolent and kind instead of demanding and harsh. My faith is marked by fear and the need to appease anger. Our concept is that the Wraiths wish to expand their power base at all times. Are your Prophets interested only in the Bajorans?”

“I guess that is a question for the Vedeks,” admitted Nils with a shrug. “But I tend to doubt it. The Orb we found that led to the opening of the rift between our worlds was not a Bajoran Orb, though it bore all of the hallmarks. It belonged on a planet called Girajin, where the people seemed to have their own connection to ‘spirits’ not unlike the Prophets. I don’t see how beings that are unbound by time and space would be bound by the conventional thought of most Bajorans - that the Prophets are for Bajor only. That would require a leap of faith I’m not ready to make.”

“Did Jill subscribe to your beliefs?” As innocent as the First’s question originated, it struck Nils like a sledgehammer to the gut.

“Jillian,” he corrected. “Her name is Jillian. And I don’t think so, no.” Nils glanced down at the floor and remembered the Bajoran proverb she’d had tattooed on her back in honor of him – or so he surmised. Though she seemed willing to accept his faith for him, it had never been something she really understood. The CO decided not to answer. “I think…”

Nils’ words dropped off and his jaw followed suit. The nebula outside his viewport was gone. It hadn’t just faded away and left space behind, because space, as well, was gone. Instead the Bajoran found himself staring at a cityscape just outside the window.


“By the Prophets…” His tone reflected the awe that fell like a stone in his stomach.

“What’s wrong with…” The First’s words trailed off as well as he beheld the city. “Did we land on a planet?”

Nils shook his head, still in complete shock. =/\= Torrik to the bridge. =/\= His badge didn’t respond to his touch. Neither did the bridge respond. =/\= Captain Torrik to the bridge. Jezera, respond. =/\= Still nothing.

The two men rose and slowly walked to the window, unable to accept what they were seeing. Each was glad the other confirmed the sight; otherwise madness would have been the obvious explanation. Low mist hung in the sky, shrouding the tops of the many tall buildings and lights danced on the ground indicating much activity.

“What is this?” The nameless acolyte looked relatively frightened as he surveyed the skyline.

“I don’t know,” answered Nils, feeling fully ill at ease himself. He felt at his hip, knowing full well he didn’t generally carry a sidearm. His suspicion proved correct and he shook his head in frustration. “Let’s get to the bridge,” the young Captain said as he spun on his heel. He made a break for the door, but froze as it swooshed open. The corridor he expected did not appear. Instead, his quarters opened to a busy street. The view reminded him of staring into a holodeck with an active program running.

“Does your ship often find itself in altered realities,” the First asked, stepping up close to Nils.

“This is actually a first for me… Wraith induced visions and pagh’tem’fars not withstanding…” The Bajoran crept forward to peer out the door.

“What’s a pagh’tem’far?” The First stayed on his elder’s heel.

“Later…” The two men inched out onto the sidewalk and into the city that had sprung up around them. As one, they peered back into the Captain’s quarters, which remained unchanged. “This is damned irregular…” Nils wished once again for a phaser then amended that wish to include a tricorder. He scanned the street visually and concluded that it was Terran. There were humans all about and though the place looked archaic, it did bear many indications that they had indeed been transported to Earth.

Wind whipped up and moved trash along the boulevard. A paper, carried by the wind landed at the two Bajorans feet. Nils reluctantly bent over and picked it up. He couldn’t believe what he saw.



Originally Posted 12/8/08 by Torrik Nils

Matt listened to the clink of glasses and casual conversation that swirled around Event Horizon. It wasn't particularly crowded with personnel, though the atmosphere seemed to buzz with anticipation. Matt stared down into the glass of chilled water before him and watched as the wave of water swirled in a clockwise direction, moving faster with each swish of his wrist. His hand stilled suddenly, the sound of tinkling laughter catching his attention from across the room.

"A penny for them?"

Matt glanced up at Simba, both of them having only been seated with their drinks for a few minutes but neither had moved in the direction of conversation. Simba had seemed caught up in thought, though seemingly not an unpleasant one.

"Just intrigued by our new guest." Matt responded lightly, swishing his glass once more in the direction of where the laughter had originated.

"He does seem… original." Simba laughed, cracking a grin. "Maybe we should get Miss Corin to introduce us."

Matt glanced up. "Don't think we will have to wait long." He watched as Indi stood and motioned for the gentleman and his entourage to follow her.

She had been chatting with the old coot ever since Simba and Matt had arrived. Despite agreeing to Simba's earlier suggestion that they 'catch the scene' at Event Horizon after his shift, Matt really wasn't in the mood to socialize. His previous eruption of emotion had more than since passed, but there were a few remaining specks that stopped him from keeping his usual persona intact.

"These are the newest additions to the Hawking's crew."

Matt smiled up at Indi as she made the introductions. "Matt Hudson. Simba Wekesa. This is Mr Camael!"

"Oh just Camael, deary." The man responded with a gently smile as he glanced down at the two cadets.

Simba thrust a hand out quickly and efficiently. Ever pleased to make new acquaintances, his personality seemed almost in stark contrast to that of Matt sometimes. Ever chirpy, ever happy. Something Matt could never be! He knew he was being dismal, something that happened every now and then, though it wasn't something he could stop.

Matt frowned. "I don't mean to be rude, but I have a prior engagement." He smiled apologetically at their guest, suddenly uncomfortable by the man's presense. He couldn't explain it, but those quisical brows twitched above all seeing eyes. Maybe he was being paranoid, but his earlier feeling of suffication increased tenfold as the gentleman offered his hand out in welcome. "Sorry."

"Oh my my…" He heard as he departed.

He forced himself out of Event Horizon, mentally making some excuse to himself that despite his shift being over, he had not had a chance to contact all the new crewman regarding their basic operations and protocol training. For a moment, a feeling of dark dispair swamped his inner core as it had earlier that day, but it washed away with the sound of a childish giggle.

Matt stopped. Turning, he glanced around for the owner of the noise, but found the corridor as empty as it had been when he had entered. He shook his head and turned back to move off once more.

She giggled again.

A small child, no more than seven or eight ran past him, giggling. She swept around the corner, caught up in her own game of hide-and-seek. Her giggles giving away her position with ease.

Her delightful giggles swelled into Matt's heart bringing warmth and summer it hadn't known for so long.

"Matthias. Matthias. Matthias."

"Coming, ready or not!" He responded, suddenly crouching down, stalking his prey, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

She giggled once more, knowing the game was up. Darting out from behind the wall, she sprang out and launched herself into his arms. "You found me, Matthias."

Matt's mouth twisted as he tried to stop from grinning, forcing a mock look of admonition to his face. "Maddison, what have I told you about calling me that." But he couldn't hold the look for long, letting her slide down to the ground. His hands sweeping over her ticklish sides, enjoying her squeals of delight.

"S-s-sorry d-daddy." She got out, breathless.

He bent down to one knee in front of her, gave her a quick hug and ruffled her hair like he always did. "No problems Honey Bear." He stood and watched her skip off down the corridor, turning once to give him a cheeky grin before disappearing.

Matt smiled to himself, humming as he continued to walk towards the turbo lift. For the life of him, he couldn't even remember why he had been feeling so dark in the first place.

Introducing the ever giggle-able Maddison Hudson.


Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Matt Hudson

The Snow Queen Variations
::USS Hawking::

“Anderson reporting,” Jenny stated as she approached the armory.

Dramm Pal came to the entrance of the restricted area, “About time,” he muttered, entering in the change of watch onto the wall console.

Jenny, still shivering from the strange breeze she’d encountered on deck five, ignored the complaint. Pal was a big one for complaining. “May I have the watch?”

“The watch is yours,” he replied formally then added, “and I’m taking the extra ten you took getting here. There’s a type three needing checking on the workbench.”

“And nerts to you, too,” Jenny, who’d been all of two minutes late, said to his back. Chances were good that the type three had been on the bench, in its current condition, when the Xepolite had come on duty. Not that she minded… a repair job was better than staring at the walls and trying not to think… or feel… she’d had too much of that, too often, since joining Hawking. Admittedly, a lot of the turmoil was of her own doing, born of situations which would never have arisen if she’d followed SOP on the Constitution. But then Ben’s death had happened and someone too-like Harry had done truly terrible things and Jillian’s death at Finn’s hands was just another livid bruise on Jenny’s already-battered heart.

“Shit… I mean… rats.” Shoving down on the sorrows, Jenny buckled down and ran the diagnostic tricorder over the waiting phaser and quickly found the issue… a tiny convexity in the emission aperture. Keying open the appropriate drawer, she withdrew a replacement part and got down to it.

She was so involved in the process that she had the old emitter off and was lining up the new part before realizing she was effing freezing! Her hands, holding the the pieces in place, were shaking and she could actually see her breath frosting the air. “Nebula,” she told herself, teeth beginning to chatter. It was possible the unique nature of the proto-nebula was affecting environmental systems. As soon as she was finished with the phaser, she’d tag Ops and Engineering.

Then her thoughts were sidetracked by something strangely familiar yet distinctly out of place, drifting onto the table and she looked up to see…

“Ohhh, this can’t be good…”

Snow… white and soft and sighing lazily down from a slated sky to drop chill kisses on her upturned face. One flake must have landed in her eye and the sudden stinging had her unsteadily reaching out for the table only to find that, along with the ceiling… and the walls, and the corridors beyond… the workbench was gone. Blinking away the tears, the young woman’s eyes darted through the white to see little more than slender silhouettes of barren trees, fogged by the increasingly swirling flakes.

“On the contrary,” a voice, deep and mellifluous and oh so dark, had her searching vainly through the thickening drifts of white, “this is the best of all worlds… for here you may be free of all that pains you.”

As those last words were spoken, Jenny felt a sudden sharp pang in her heart but that soon faded beneath a growing shroud of ice which did, as the pale young man who now stood before her had promised, free the girl from all that pained her. Looking up into the cold black eyes, Jenny Anderson, her heart become a frozen, empty thing… smiled. “Cool.”

The ice man cometh…

Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Jenny Anderson

Ender wasn't ready for this interview: a pair of giant crows had snatched him without warning from the upper slopes of Mount Darkness. He was repairing a vapor condenser at the time and his hands and arms still bore the signs of hard work. His shirt was drenched in sweat and he was standing on the dark Lord's precipice.

Ender had heard about this place. Carved out of the face of cliff overlooking an active volcano. Smoke and steam hissed from fissures. Black marble floors reflected a hint of the blood red sky above.

"You drained the Lake of Apathy?"

Ender shrugged at the figure cloaked in flame and shadows. "It was a bit gross."

"Gross? It was positively revolting. Nauseating. Repulsive. A steaming vat of acid would seem like soda pop compared to it."

Ender wiped his hands on the sides of his uniform. It wasn't every day that he was summoned to speak to a greater demon. "Well the lake was causing welts on the Leeches of Dread, there were funny sores forming on all the Fire Snakes, plus it was eating through the cartilage of the Skeletons when we swam. Their legs kept falling off."

"The Lake of Apathy was fermented for a mega annum to rob men and women's souls of hope."

"Well, there's always marriage."

The dark figure growled. A smaller demon fluttered up to his ear. He nodded as the message was delivered. Then he frowned. A terrible darkness settled over the demon. His eyes snapped onto Ender. Finally he could not take it any longer and he brushed the messenger off his shoulder.

"You've organized an indoor hockey league in the Caverns of Pain?"

"The citizens love it…gives them a chance to cool off," Ender snickered, "Get it? Cool off? Cause, you know, we're in —…"

"I get it!" He yelled, "I've just received word that there's to be a snowboarding competition on the black slopes of Mount Darkness."

"Oh yeah, sorry. I have your invitation right here." Ender reached around his pocket.

"It does not snow in purgatory!" he roared.

"Well actually, I've found a way around that. You see you have plenty of heat sources around here and enough scrap metal to build a fleet of dreadnaughts—and I was able to build a condenser prototype. The damned are quite handy—come to think of it everyone has been very helpful. Tired of lying about gnawing on the hopeless and downtrodden I suppose. Anyway, the compressor and evaporator were simple enough and we've created a snow making system. There's three feet of powder on the southern slopes…" Ender's voice trialed off, "…you look perturbed."

Ender quickly tried to think of something that wouldn't make him feel so left out. "You know, we could make you an honorary Grand Marshall or something. You could give a speech—rally the evil throng, give your blessing to the damned, that sort of thing. Maybe I could find a big banner you could drape over your shoulder. And a hat. A big hat with—well you've already got the horn thing going on, so maybe some skulls? The bones of your vanquished foes. Really dress it up. Could be cool."

"Ender Seldon."

The CMO's attention returned from trying to think of a suitably festive costume to the tall, dark figure who stood perilously close to him.

"Hmm, yes?"

"I appreciate the efforts you've gone to adapt to your new situation, and the amazing progress you've made in the short time you've been with us."

"Thank you, I appreciate that." He beamed.

"You know," he stepped forward and put his arm around his shoulder. "In a way, you remind me of myself."

"I do?" Suddenly Ender was alarmed.

"Ah yes. In the early days. When I was first banished to these shores—first cast into the Pit."

Ender took a closer look at the demon. He occurred to him that maybe it was possible that he was once human. He had the same basic physiology, save for the red crackling aura, the great yellowed bones jutting out of his skull, the serpent tongue, oh f**k—this guy was once like me?

Together they walked along the promenade. "I had the same drive, the same joie de vivre, the same need to make things right. I quickly rose to the top of course. I think it was charm that finally thrust me into the lime light."

Ender let himself be led along but was starting to seriously have second thoughts about his plans for sailboat races next month.

"I like your style Ender. But I'd hate to think you were after my job."

"Hell—" He quickly looked up to make sure 'hell' was not a blasphemous word, "…err, no. No, I am definitely not after your job. I'm already the CMO of a starship. That's trouble enough."

He guffawed; fire snorted out of his nose. He slapped Ender hard enough on the back to remind him of the demons strength.

"No wonder you're doing so well here—you've been in the trenches for how many years now?"

"A while."

"Awhile? Ha. You've been here forever. Being stuck on a starship has got to be worse than any Purgatory I could concoct! Everyday must be a constant reminder of your family."

Ender looked away—for some reason it felt awkward to be pegged so easily by a greater demon. "It's not that bad."

"Not that bad? Surely you jest! I've seen full-fledged soul reapers break down in tears after seconds of facing their greatest fears. I once sent a full grown man out to conquer his fear of amnesiphobia. Tragic really. He still floats silently in the Pool of Disdain, hasn't said a word in twelve years.

Ender rolled his eyes, "You exaggerate, I'm sure."

"Oh no. Now I know the true mettle of my adversary. And wait," he spun Ender around to face him," You're not here because you've been cast into the Pit."

"Yes I am."

"Oh no, you're here to escape!'

"No I'm not."

"It's really a lot easier than the orientation package made it sound out to be."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Look at you!" He gently boxed his chest with the back of his long-fingered hand. "Hockey with the Skeletons, poker with the damned, snowboarding with the Orcs. This is better than a trip to Risa."

Ender grumbled in protest. "Your dining facilities leave quite a bit to be desired."

"Eh, I'm working on it. The demon chickens just aren't that tasty."

"Nor are the vipers."

"Eh, angel stew."

"Almost as bad as Warlock chowder."

The demon smiled briefly and then his face changed subtly. He appraised him carefully. "I think the truest test will be to hurl you back into the real world."

"Oh for f**k's sake."

"There are much greater tests of character there than you will ever find here. You might flourish in the depths—and think you've found your place—but you will be relinquishing a chance at a much deeper more fulfilling existence on another plane. And Ender…" The demon rested his hand on his shoulder, "Your family is not here."

Ender sighed and looked out over the burning plains. "And that's all that matters," he murmured quietly.

"If you are to grow."

"But how do I protect myself?"

"You cannot."

"And how do I—"

"You can't."

He looked away quickly. F**king demons. Ender took a deep breath. "You're kicking me out of the Pit of Despair."

He grinned. "You're far too comfortable in purgatory."

Suddenly the red washed sky began to get lighter. Ender looked up as the light moved toward him, traveling so fast that it was almost instantaneously upon him. He closed his eyes, blinded by the brilliance of the light and heard a loud thunderous eruption. He held his hands over his ears and screamed as the pulse of the explosion rippled through his body. And then it was over. Silence.

He bolted upright in his bed as his mind finally allowed him to wake.

Sweat rolled down Ender's forehead and on to his brow, he squinted so the salty perspiration wouldn't sting his eyes. He felt his bed beneath him. His blankets. His breathing slowly fell back into its regular pace once he realized it had only been a dream.

He shook the feeling off of his body, and quickly made his way to the bathroom. He washed with cold water, wincing as his face lowered in the filled sink. It felt good. After a final splash across his eyes he stood up close to the mirror and looked to see if he still recognized himself. Every day that passed took him further away from his family, and he hated that more than anything. He couldn't remember exactly when it happened but he could no longer remember their sounds; his wife's voice, his children's laugh, all of it, lost. He figured it wouldn't be long before he forgot who he was completely.

"Even in this realm you torture yourself."

Ender turned toward the voice that he had heard in his dream only moments ago. The Demon.

"How the…"

The Demon smiled, "I followed you here.

"But you…"

"Yes, well. I didn't think my attire would quite fit the theme of this place."

"So you chose Johann VonGoeth?"

"Eh. I googled a bunch of noble terran characteristics and out he came."

"You have search engines in hell?"

"Why wouldn't we?"

There was a pause as Ender considered this, "I can't really think of a reason."

Johann smiled and he lit up a cigarette and started toward the door, "Come! I have a strong desire to wander!"

Ender pulled a shirt over his head as he chased the disguised demon out of the bathroom, "Wait! You can't go…"

Johann blew a cloud of smoke into the air, "And who's going to stop me?!"

Featuring: Johann Von Goeth as the Demon

Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Ender Seldon

USS Hawking
Thorne Quarters

She tossed her uniform jacket to the side, not caring where it landed. She had had a long day, babysitting the new Munro as requested. It had been tense, and once her shift had ended, she walked the woman back to her quarters then hightailed it back to her own. Tatiana planned to fall into bed, and not get up until she was needed in Sickbay the next day. She stood there, not moving as she wondered if she would skip a meal or not. Tatiana didn’t hear footsteps, but whoever was in her quarters was breathing loudly, wanting her to know that they were there, and stalking her. Tatiana turned around to see who it was, fully expecting it to be Stephanie, then felt her head explode in pain as something came flying towards. She fell to the ground, cupping her hand around the throbbing wound in protection.

“Come on, get up,” a female voice sang and roughly shook Tatiana’s shoulders. The doctor at first didn’t move, wishing she could lie there until the pounding in her head stopped. It didn’t subside, but she used her arms to push herself up into a sitting position. Tatiana looked up at the woman who had beckoned her to move, and stared in shock.

The stranger’s outfit was indecent, but intricate. Black leather was worn like a second skin, hugging the woman’s every curve. On top of the leather was a rust-colored breastplate that connected to shoulder guards, and a design that covered the back of her clothing. It was interesting to see, but the round metal object that adorned the woman’s side was the true player. It was the brightest part of the woman’s dark outfit, and on it, a repeating pattern of connected gold rectangles that had sapphire stones in the middle.

“I thought you were from Nikos’ gang. They’ve been causing trouble here recently,” the dark haired woman said as she crouched down to gently feel the skin around Tatiana’s temple. Thorne moved away from touch, still smarting over the surprise sucker punch she’d been on the receiving end of. She continued, “Showing up in the middle of a fight and freezing isn’t smart. It might get you killed next time.”

“What? What fight?” Tatiana asked in confusion, and stood. “My head feels like I kicked in the head by a horse.” After noticing the glare the woman was shooting her, she latched her mouth shut. She wanted to call for Security, but the imposing figure of the stranger convinced her that it wouldn’t be the smartest idea.

“Like I said,” she began tersely, quickly becoming annoyed at the younger woman’s constant complaining. “I didn’t realize that you were not one of-”

Tatiana interrupted her, “Who are you?”

Leather creaked as the stranger walked closer to Thorne; her face set in a look that Tatiana was beginning to believe was the only one she possessed. She stopped directly in front of the younger female, whose breath seemed to have caught in the middle of her chest. “Xena,” she said and extended a hand.

Tatiana gaped at the woman stupidly, ignoring the hand “Xena” was offering. “What? You said your name was Xena? No, no, no Xena isn’t real.”

“As you can see, I am very real,” she answered, nodding towards Tatiana’s injury and looked down at her hand, “Now, you will respond to my greeting, and tell me your name. It would be very rude if you didn’t, and I really don’t like rude people.”

At Xena’s warning tone, she did as she was instructed. “Tatiana,” she said and shook the woman’s hand. Before she could release the hand of the visitor, Xena grabbed her hand, brought it down and pressed it to the end of the leather gauntlet that ended mid-forearm. She then repeated the action on Tatiana’s arm and shook it. “This is how we greet each other,” she explained and released her tight hold. “It’s nice to meet you, Tatiana,” she said to ease the fear she sensed coming from the younger woman in waves. “You don’t need to fear me; I’m not your enemy.”

Tatiana exhaled. “That’s a relief,” she muttered and ran a hand down her face, wincing as her fingers grazed the wound to the side of her head. “I need a drink.”

“Okay,” she said, and picked up the gleaming sword lying on the far end of the room. After sheathing the weapon she adjusted the strings on her boots, “We’ll grab ale at the tavern in Corinth.” The leather-clad Xena, walked towards the exit, but turned around before she walked through, “Are you coming?” It was posed as a question, but Tatiana got the idea, the warrior didn’t want her to stay behind.

Tatiana turned around, looking at her quarters, wondering why Xena had not noticed the surroundings. “This has to be a joke,” she said to herself and stood next to the visitor. The two approached the exit, and the doors opened to not reveal corridor, but a dirt road in the middle of a lush forest. The sun shone brightly down on the women, and Tatiana’s mouth dropped again, “F—- me.”

We've got the Batman and Dr. Who fandoms, why not add another?
Featuring: The Warrior Princess

Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Tatiana Thorne

-Event Horizon-

He steered through the crowded bar unaware of the people around him, his eyes on T'Shaini and the visitor that accompanied the counselor. The man had waved at Javier as if they were on familiar terms. Who is he? the engineer wondered. The elderly man did not look like anyone he knew. Javier's thoughts returned to his dream. Was it a dream? It didn't feel as if I went to sleep. Was I day-dreaming? The imagery had been so real and yet strange. He was certain he did not know the people in the dream.

"Chief?" a voice called out to him, drawing Javier's attention towards the speaker. It was one of the engineers, a young noncom who went by Jeremy. "Chief..I was wondering if I could write a..well a letter of condolence to Bilara's folks." The young engineer cleared his throat nervously under Javier's gaze. "I mean, Jolan and I were there when it happened..and..and we know how but maybe, maybe her folks would want to know how..well, how, excuse me Chief, how she didn't give in to the bastards, She was doing her duty and..yeah, maybe her parents would want to know that?" Jeremy waited for Lt. Costala's opinion of his idea

"I think it's a good idea Jeremy," Javier answered, impressed with the young man's sense of camaraderie, "I'll include it with the official letter that I send to her parents. Forward it to me when you get a chance to put it down on a PADD."

"Okay Chief," Jeremy said, relieved that his idea had been accepted. "I'll finish it before my shift."

Javier smiled and patted the young engineer's shoulder proudly before moving away. For a moment he was reminded of another engineer who might have suggested something similar. Sensing the beginning of the apathy that the loss of his friend brought, Javier looked for T'Shaini once more, and found that she had moved and was standing beside another table. The elderly man who accompanied her was speaking with some crew that Javier didn't recognize. Perfect. He moved to her side and placed a kiss on T'Shaini's cheek.

"Who is our guest?" he asked her.

"His name is Camael." The counselor responded in an undertone, she was attempting to assess the dynamics of the situation before her…a new crewmember, Matt Hudson, whom she recognized from his profile, clearly uncomfortable with the atmosphere suddenly bolted from the room, leaving a saddened figure with his hand outstretched. The older man's eyes followed Hudson's exit with a slight frown of concentration…then with a twinkle in his eyes seated himself in the newly vacated chair. With a shake of her head T'Shaini turned to Javier. "Interesting, there is something about…" She frowned, then reached up to brush the hair back from his forehead. "Is something wrong?"

"Nope, everything is fine," Javier assured her, looking from T'Shaini to Camael. Besides the singular odd dream about samurai everything is great. "So he's the one we pulled from the ship in the nebula?"

"Yes." However obvious it was that he was hiding something this was neither the time nor the place to delve. "The only one, I have not yet had a moment to speak to him alone, even walking down the corridors everyone flocked around him like moths to flame."

"Hey, old guy, do you realize how many people you endangered by flying too close to a nebula?" Javier suddenly asked the man. The guy had risked his own life and the lives of the people on the Hawking by making a foolish mistake. It was Javier's opinion that Camael should be sitting in the brig instead of the lounge chair. "You put yourself and everyone else on this ship at risk when we had to come and rescue you. Did you even think about that?"

"Javier." T'Shaini put her hand on his shoulder to calm him. She knew what a strain the loss of engineers had been on him, but even she was surprised to hear him speak with so much venom, and to such an innocuous figure. "Events beyond our control often shape our destinies, I am certain Camael would not have put any lives at risk if he had been given the choice." Turning her gaze to their seemingly unruffled guest. "It has been a difficult time, lives have been lost in dire circumstances and we have not yet had time to heal."

"It was not my intention to bring harm to your crew," the older man said as his eyes held Javier's.

There was something about Camael's gaze that made Javier want to believe him. The engineer's anger deflated almost as quickly as it had sparked. "It's okay I just.." he started to apologize then realized everyone around them was listening. "I need another drink." Javier turned away from the table, feeling T'Shaini's hand slip from his shoulder as he started towards the bar. He could feel their attention and wanted to get away. "Another glass of port," Javier told Xer when he reached the bar. There had only been a few occasions where he had drank enough to forget past circumstances or events, but the engineer was beginning to feel that it might be one of those times.

JP with the Great Tee (and I still don't have any **ing colors)
Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Javier Costala**

Jill looked up from her food and took notice of the crowded tables around her. Not an empty chair anywhere, well, except the three at her table. A table pushed so far into the corner of the room that she easily went unnoticed. It was that or the entire crew was purposely avoiding her. I guess I wouldn't want to eat with a ghost either, she mumbled to herself. She pushed her food around her plate until carrots and peas lined up in a pattern along the edge.

Matt glanced down at the padd before him as he entered the mess. The picture that stared back at him neither showed no hint of positive or negative emotion. Matt frowned. This new crewman was scheduled like the rest to undergo basic protocol training, yet her file stated that she had been in a medical position about the Hawking for quite some time. Why would she require induction?

Matt shrugged. What did he care? It was bad enough that old bugger Atwood had made him contact all the new personnel in person, instead of sending messages.

"Munro, Jillian?" He asked, spotting the woman pictured in the file in the far corner.

Jill dropped her fork at the sudden call of her name. She looked up at the man who continued to look back and forth between her and his PADD, "I prefer to be call Jill," she offered a weak attempt at a smile, "But yes, I am Jillian Munro."

"Mind if I?" He asked, taking one last glance at the file.

Considering there were no other vacant chairs in the room…. "Be my guest".

Matt grinned as he slid into the seat opposite her. He dropped the padd on the table and pushed it across the table towards her. "Bad news I'm afraid." The padd held the induction requisite that all new crew members had to undertake. He hadn't enjoyed it, so he was pretty sure she wouldn't either.

Jill looked down at the PADD, almost afraid to touch it. Bad news? Was she being sent back to the mirror universe? Back to the brig? A message from dear ol'doctor? She looked up at him, eyes wide and worried, "What is it?"

Matt tilted his head slightly to the side as he studied the look on Munro's face. "Oh you know. Just the fun stuff Starfleet likes to to torture us new folk with." He chose to ignore his earlier confusion over the conflict in her file. "Just the Standard Protocol and Basic Ship Operation's training that we all look forward too."

He noticed she relaxed slightly at his words. "Did you come aboard at Deep Space Nine with the rest of us?"

Jill set down her fork and sat upright with her back pressed tightly against the chair, "No, I did not." Judging from his question, she felt it safe to assume that he had missed out on the last mission and had no idea who Jillian, the real Jillian, was. She folded her hands on her lap, "I'm from the mirror universe. I came over a few weeks ago." A hint of a smile crept up the corner of her mouth. It amused her to watch his reaction. She wondered if he thought she was pulling his leg.

He wanted to question her last statement, but the sudden eery silence in the mess pushed him subconsciously to look up. His eyes widdened briefly before looking back at the woman across from him. "Did I put my uniform on back-to-front?" He watched a look of confusion cross her face. He bent his head towards her and whispered as he continued, hoping to clarify. "…because everyone is staring at me!"

She looked up to confirm his claim. Fantastic, she picked up her plate and stood up, "Actually, you're not wearing any pants," she whispered.

Matt paused momentarily, his brow twitching slightly as he watched her stand. He couldn't stop the booming laughter that erupted from him, breaking through the silence that had engulfed the mess. "Phew…" He sighed out in relief, "I thought it was something more serious."

The noise level slowly rose to normal as eavesdropping crew returned to their own conversations, "In the future you may want to take a cue from your fellow shipmates and stay away from me. I'm not exactly known for my…" Kindness? "Friendliness."

"Does my breath smell?" He asked with a grin.

"Your breath smells fine." She paused before shaking her head, "I mean, not that I was smelling or referring to your breath. I just…" She sat back down, "I just meant…" she struggled to finds the words, "…Tell me what you know about Dr.Jillian Munro. The other one."

"The other one?" Matt cocked his head in confusion. She continued to look at him silently while comprehension slowly dawned in his eyes. "The past mission… the others…" While some of his earlier confusion had cleared, he shrugged. "Never met her."

"Jillian Munro was from this universe and the ship's CMO. She was killed during the last mission." Jill leaned in and lowered her voice, "As I'm sure you can imagine, my presence here is not exactly welcomed. When they look at me, they see her and yet I am nothing like her. The complete opposite actually; Jillian was a healer, I…" Was an interrogator? A torturer?, "I…was not. In fact, I spent most of my time hurting people." She looked up at him, "People did not enjoy my company."

Matt's face remained stoic as she revealed the information. He didn't really know much about the alternate universe, other than it existed. Most information was classified, and what tended to run around on the 'rumour mill' couldn't always be trusted. But she was still here, wasn't she? "Did you… enjoy what you did?" He asked, trying to understand.

Jill laughed, "You're different. You don't react the same way everyone else does." It was a tough question. There had been days when she found her job interesting, a humanoids tolerance for pain fascinated her, but did she enjoy hurting innocent beings? No she did not. "The other universe is different. I wasn't given the choice to do something I 'enjoyed'. I simply did what I was told." She could tell that he was still curious but she had no desire to continue this conversation, not now at least, "I should probably get going…" It occurred to her that she didn't know this name, "Mr…?"

"Hudson. Cadet Matthis Hudson. I am just a little ol' cadet. But-" He stood up slowly, noticing eyes were still watching them. "…I prefer Matt." He placed his hand out in way of formal introduction.

It was the first sincere welcoming she had received, "It has been nice meeting you, Matt." She shook his hand, "I should be going…" She picked up her plate and started off again for the replicator.

He grinned. "Jill?" He watched as she stopped mid-stride. "You forgot this!" He waved the forgotten padd he had brought with the induction training that was scheduled for tomorrow. Passing it across, he smiled down, almost enjoying her discomfort. "And don't worry…" He continued with a wink. "…you can't hurt me." There was nothing left in him to hurt.

If they had been on the IAS, his challenge would have been met with eagerness. Lucky for him, they were not on the IAS, "I'll keep that in mind."

A JP from the creative minds of Jill Munro and Matt Hudson
Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Matt Hudson

Javier shrugging off her hand snapped a little string inside her. Useless. Seeing the growing throng surrounding Camael, the counselor decided that in her current state he would be far better served by her absence. "If you would excuse me…" She began to step away, then recalled he did not know where his quarters were. "when you are ready to seek respite you may contact me and I will retrieve you." She barely held in place long enough to read his acquiescence before beating a hasty retreat and in so doing, missed the mischevious glint in his eye as he took another sip of his toddy.

Finally alone…well, as alone as she could be in the corridor of a starship, T'Shaini let her hand trail against the wall as she walked slowiy toward the lift. Wrapped in self recrimination she barely registered the textural change beneath her hand. Just as awareness began to seep toward her brain something the counselor was far more attuned to filtered into her consciousness. A soft sobbing was heard from a distance, and picking up speed T'Shaini turned the corner to see the stone archway open up to a hall…a great hall ringed with elaborate tapestries, she could see the fluttering of the corners where they were unable to fully barricade against the wind from the out of doors. And in the center of this enormous room was a delicate, so delicate, and oh so young woman huddled on the floor sobbing to herself.

Without thought T'Shaini ran in and scooped the devastated young woman up in her arms, holding her close, she rocked her until the sobbing subsided enough for her to make out some words.

"Oh woe is me, t'have seene what I have seene: see what I see. "

Pulling a tissue from her uniform pocket (what kind of a counselor would she be without a handy supply of tissues?) she gently wiped the tears from the girl's face. "What is it you have seen?"

Her tear streaked face rose, it was a sign of her innocence how quickly she placed her trust in this unknown woman. With one shuddering breath she began her story to T'Shaini.

"O what a Noble minde is heere o're-throwne?
The Courtiers, Soldiers, Schollers: Eye, tongue, sword,
Th' expectansie and Rose of the faire State,
The glasse of Fashion, and the mould of Forme,
Th' observ'd of all Observers, quite, quite downe.
Haue I of Ladies most deiect and wretched,
That suck'd the Honie of his Musicke Vowes:
Now see that Noble, and most Soveraigne Reason,
Like sweet Bels iangled out of tune, and harsh,
That unmatch'd Forme and Feature of blowne youth,
Blasted with extasie."

With one more cry of grief she doubled over and words that echoed like a mantra spilled forth.

"Oh woe is me, t'have seene what I have seene: see what I see."

Ophelia… T'Shaini's eyes widened. She had no idea what was going on, how she was here or what had brought her….but she certainly had a good handle on the why.

"Do you mind if I ask you some questions?"

Ophelia's face suddenly cleared and her mouth dropped open in surprise. "I…" Unable to form words, so great was her astonishment that someone….anyone…care what she thought that she simply nodded.

"Can you tell me the first time his behavior toward you changed in any way?"

"As I was sowing in my Chamber, Lord Hamlet with his doublet all unbrac'd…"

The words she had read so often unfolding before her in real time, T'Shaini had to quell the urge to pinch herself. How often, when reading of her plight, had the counselor thought that if only Ophelia had had someone to talk to…someone who could help her be strong, stand for herself, that it need not end that way. Foolish, she knew, to wish happiness for a character in tragedy, but there was always a part of the Vulcan, when reading or watching a vid that she knew to be sad, that hoped that this time it would be different.

Maybe this time it will….

Originally Posted 12/9/08 by T'Shaini

“Don’t worry, he’s just having a bit of a rough evening.” Simba turned back to the table where Petty Officer Corin and their mysterious visitor were watching as Cadet Hudson quickly walked out of the lounge. “But for now… another round, I’m buying.” He flagged down a passing waiter and indicated another round of drinks.

“Why, that’s most generous of you. Yes, most kind indeed. You certainly are a cheery lad, aren’t you then?” Camael replied in his charming way.

Simba grinned. “I do what I can.” The efficient waiter set a glass down on the table and the cadet picked it up, swirling it around as he looked into the amber liquid.

“Hmm, yes, you do try hard, don’t you?”

Simba looked up from his drink and found himself staring directly into Camael’s piercing eyes. He felt feelings rising up within him; feelings that he had suppressed for many years. In one fluid motion, he tipped his head back and downed his drink in a single gulp. And, as he had become so good at after years of practice, squashed the memories and locked them away, back where they belonged. “I suppose I do,” he replied, trying to be nonchalant.

Camael looked a little surprised, and the intensity of his gaze seemed diminished. He paused for a moment, then smiled broadly. “Well, it seems to be working. Yes, quite, I rather like you.”

The young cadet smiled weakly, uncertain of why he was dwelling on the past so much. Maybe it was all the questions he’d been asked by Jolan and Matt earlier bringing up old feelings. Or maybe he was just tired. Yes, that must be it… some combination of the two. Either way, the old man sitting at the table was certainly a pleasant guest and quite popular with the crew. While Simba was pondering the situation, Camael had turned and was talking excitedly with one of the many crewmembers who had gathered around his table.

“Well,” said Simba, clearing his throat to get Camael’s attention as he stood up from the table. “I’ve monopolized enough of your time. It was a pleasure meeting you, sir.”

“Oh no, the pleasure was all mine!” Camael said as he accepted Simba’s extended hand. “Perhaps our paths will cross again my young friend?”

“Perhaps… enjoy your stay aboard the Hawking.” Simba nodded to the group of officers and walked towards the door. As he made his way into the corridor, he just couldn’t shake the odd feeling he’d had earlier. Sighing softly, he headed towards the nearest turbolift. It had been a long day, and with any luck, a good night’s sleep would help him clear his head.

Originally Posted 12/9/08 by Simba Wekesa

A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows

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