Waking

"Computer, locate Cadet Wekesa," Javier asked once he slowed down to a walk. The engineer realized he had no idea where Wekesa might be. He had been on his way to Main Engineering but it was a possibility that the new crewmember was not working on Gamma shift. Embarassingly enough he had no idea what shift Wekesa was assigned to, having never spoke to the engineer. Or any of the new people for that matter. the officer thought regretfully.

=^=Cadet Wekesa is currently in the Event Horizon=^=

"Thank you Computer," Javier told the friendly AI as he changed directions and approached a nearby turbolift. In a few minutes he entered the bar, pausing to run his eyes over the interior of the establishment, Javier found Wekesa sitting alone. He approached the engineer's table and upon getting closer found the cadet staring off into the ether, a glazed look on the man's face. Maybe he's had too much to drink. was Javier's first thought.

"Cadet Wekesa?" the Chief Engineer inquired.

Simba blinked at the sound of his name. The sounds of the lounge came flooding back into his ears and he realized that he was aboard the Hawking. He found himself looking once again at the half-empty glass of Aldebaran whiskey and the comforting cuff of his Starfleet uniform around his arm. The young engineer looked up, slightly disoriented, at the lieutenant standing in front of him. He recognized the chief engineer, though they had never actually met. "Yes… sir?"

"Are you okay Cadet?" Javier asked the engineer. Wekesa looked like he had been zoned out then suddenly had awoken after being adressed. Or he might have been dreaming? Perhaps a vision of his own? He took a seat at Wekesa's table without waiting for an invitation.

Simba hesitated. Was he okay? He didn't know… nothing seemed certain anymore. But then, what was he going to tell his department head? "Yes, sir. I was just…" Just what? Hallucinating? Daydreaming? "I was just thinking about some things, sir."

"Thinking about some things," Javier echoed as he nodded his head slowly. "Thinking or dreaming Cadet Wekesa, which would you say it was?"

"Dreaming, I suppose…" Simba replied, tilting his head to the side as he pondered how Lt. Costala could possibly know that. He sighed. "Sorry, sir, I have just had a lot of things on my mind today. It… well, it was probably the most real dream I have ever had." He paused and pushed the glass of whiskey away, not wanting any more of the stuff tonight. "I'm sorry, sir, Lt. Costala, right?"

"Correct, I'm the Chief Engineer," the officer smiled before adding, "one thing I encourage my engineers to do is speak their minds. So if you have any concerns I'd appreciate hearing about them." He paused for effect then continued on. "About half an hour ago I spoke with our ship's counselor, Commander T'Shaini, because I was experiencing very realistic visions, dreams if you will. She informed me that she had experienced the same type of phenomenom and so had Cadet Hudson. T'Shaini also said you had experienced part of Hudson's dream. And now you say you had another very real dream, has this ever happened before your arrival aboard the Hawking?"

Simba looked Lt. Costala over, sizing him up. He seemed like he was somebody that he could trust. And, if he had already talked to T'Shaini, then odds were that he knew at least as much as Wekesa. "No, sir, never." Simba gritted his teeth. "Actually… I was dreaming about my family. I was a small child again… it's strange, though, because I never think about my childhood. But for some reason, it's been on my mind all day." He laughed nervously. "Crazy, I know… I could have sworn it was real."

Javier listened to Wekesa's description of his dream but could not find any similarities to his own vision. "At least you are familiar with the people in your dream," he said, "mine are always about my experiences as a samurai..only, I've never been a samurai." He thought for a moment then said, "T'Shaini and I are trying to look at all the variables, to see if there's a unified factor among all the dreams. All we know so far is that the dreams started after we left DS9."

"A samurai?" Simba asked, slightly amused, as he tried to picture the engineer wielding a katana. He thought back on his own brief experience and what he had seen of Matt's, looking for similarities that just didn't seem to be there. "I can't say that I've seen anything similar. Matt… that is, Cadet Hudson, saw his daughter. I saw my parents and my sister… I guess that is a similarity. And thought I was back home." He frowned. He hadn't thought of it as home in a long time. "Except that I spent most of my life trying to leave it."

"Well you've accomplished that," Javier offered with slight smile, "the Gamma Quadrant is about as far from home as you can get. Although, I've come to view the ship as more my home than anywhere else." He tapped his fingers on the table absent-mindedly. There was no common thread between their dreams that he could see. "I meant to speak to you earlier but that guy from the shipwreck we found in the nebula was causing a stir. What did you think of that character? He didn't look like he had enough smarts to pilot a ship, let alone fly it into a nebula."

Simba grinned. "Camael? He's… well, character is probably the best word for him." He looked over to where the old man had been sitting, but he had apparently left the lounge and gone elsewhere. "He's harmless, but eccentric. The crew seems to love him… he's quite chatty. But I know what you mean… with all the trouble the nebula has given us, I can only imagine what it must have been like in that little shuttle of his. A rough ride, no doubt."

"I wonder why he didn't pay attention to the proximity warnings. Most of the systems in those shuttles have automatic alarms and yet he seems to have ignored them," Javier commented. "I think I'll have a talk to our new arrival," the engineer decided as he stood to his feet. Javier looked down at Wekesa. "Keep myself or T'Shaini informed if your dreams change," he started to walk away but turned back to say, "Oh, and Cadet Wekesa, welcome to the Engineering Department of the USS Hawking."

A collaboration of the Hawking engineers
Originally Posted 12/22/08 by Simba Wekesa


:: The Batcave ::

Embarrassed by his show of emotion, Nils followed Batman with his head down and his eyes averted. Aside from feeling as if his behavior exhibited characteristics unbecoming a Starfleet Captain, he felt personally committed to retaining his wall of isolation. It safeguarded that which he wanted to keep safe and guarded.

A chill in the air and a slowing of their pace drew the young Captain’s attention. They’d come to a dead end in the cavern. The looming figure of the Batman seemed to shrink a little as he beheld the illuminated case before him. Nils immediately recognized the look on the Dark Knight’s face – at least, the part that was visible. His taught jaw and clenched lips revealed hidden pain. The Bajoran had made that face numerous times. He turned his attention to the case, which held a vice grip on Batman’s gaze.

RobinCostume.png

“What is it,” asked the First as he approached from the cavern behind them.

“Oh…yes yes,” answered Alfred uncomfortably. “That’s an um… That’s the Robin uniform. It um… Yes well…”

“It belonged to Jason Todd,” Batman interjected suddenly, his voice dark and haunted. “He was the second Robin and my greatest failure…” Slowly, the hero approached the glass and his gloved fist smacked against the case. He didn’t apply enough force to break it, but it made a loud noise.

“Who is Robin,” asked the acolyte quietly. He instinctively knew that the moment required reverence. Years of Temple training had molded him into a ‘interpreter of circumstance.’

Nils shrugged, unable to recall details from the Batman mythos.

“Robin is the light that holds Batman to this world,” answered Alfred sadly. “He is youth and excitement. He is innocence scarred, but clinging powerfully to life. Without him, Batman’s tragedy becomes too deep to bear. And when Master Grayson, um yes… The first Robin took up his own mantle as hero and left the nest as it were. Well when Master Grayson left, Batman discovered Jason attempting to steal the tires from the Batmobile. And in the following chain of events he took Master Todd under his wing and named a new Robin.”

Nils turned and looked at the costume entombed in the glass case. It was bright and colorful and stood in stark contrast to the costume of the Bat. He imagined the duo’s balance of color and tone as they fought crime together and how dynamic a pairing would be. Then he imagined the tragedy that could lead to this…memorial.

“This was the moment for me that almost caused me to give it all up,” admitted the tall hero coldly. “My inner conflict… The tightrope walk between light and dark… This day almost brought it all down in utter failure.” He wouldn’t take his eyes from the emblazoned ‘R’ on the chest piece.

“Batman’s arch nemesis and enemy, the Joker killed Robin. Batman wasn’t there to stop it, but arrived only mere moments too late,” Alfred explained. Nils chest tightened again as he remembered Jillian’s death and how helpless he felt to stop it. “It is not one tragedy that marks the Dark Knight… It is continued tragedy. As long as we live in this world pain will come. And we find that the only unbearable thing is that nothing is unbearable…”

“Why are you telling me this,” Nils said with a chill in his voice. The acolyte suddenly came to his side, his presence adding power to the Captain’s challenge. “I know you’re not Alfred and I know none of this is real…”

“What is real, Mister Torrik,” asked Camael with a crooked smile. “Is it only the things that can be measured and monitored with your wondrous ship’s fantastic equipment? Is it what you see and touch?” The elderly gentleman looked around the cave and gestured to the walls and ceiling. “Or do those things not matter…”

“I can see and touch all of this… And I know it’s not real.”

“Reality is what changes us. And so many times the things that change us the most are things unreal… You can’t quantify pain. You cannot put a measurement to tragedy. And you cannot hold love in your hand. But these things affect us, young man, in a very real way.”

“You’re here to give me a lesson on metaphysics?” Nils tone was incredulous. “You created all of this to teach me how to cope with Jillian’s death?”

Camael chuckled. “Oh no no no good heavens no…” He paused and continued smiling. As he inclined his head to the Bajoran he said, “You created all of this to teach you how to cope with Jillian’s death. I merely provided the building materials.”

“So this is…” Nils turned to look at the Batman, still lost in his own moment of tragedy. He surveyed the cavern and the equipment lining the walls. He listened to the bats chirping far overhead in the murky depths of darkness. “All of this is just my own fantasy given life…by an alien?”

“My my my you are hard headed, aren’t you? It is so much less than that… And so much more…” Camael shook his head and rubbed his brow before continuing. “I thought certainly you, of all your crew, could appreciate the power of this journey. In light of your own, that is.”

“This is a Pagh’tem’far then.” Ever the scientist, Nils needed to put a meaningful name and label on the experience. He felt fooling spending so much emotional energy on nothing more than a fantasy. “Are you a Prophet?”

Camael looked genuinely shocked at first, then doubled over in laughter. “Oh my my… No no, not at all. Nice enough chaps they are, but I definitely don’t count myself as one among them.” His laughter subsided, but his smile persisted. “Let me spell it out for you, Captain. This is as real as you let it be. And you take from it only what you choose to.”

Batman spoke. He didn’t turn around, but his heavy voice filled the cavern. “Sometimes events are senseless and brutal. And we struggle to maintain a belief that life is good and that the forces of good will prevail. Although events may be beyond our control, the choice of how we meet them is our own.” The Caped Crusader turned then, slowly. The distance between the Dark Knight and the Starfleet Captain diminished until there was barely any left. “It is a bizarre and terrible world we live in, and there may be no ‘silver lining’ in sight. But we can choose what part we will play within the structure of our own life. And perceive a possibility that is better than the one in which we currently exist.”

“Bruce! Hey, Bruce,” cried a voice from somewhere in the cave. The bounding of sneakered feet echoed off the walls and then skidded to a halt just beyond ‘Alfred.’ “Oops,” said the teenager, suddenly aware of guests in the Batcave. “Uh…hey… And uh… Oh wow I’m in the Batcave… I must have fallen down some old mine hole thingy and…”

“It’s alright, Tim,” interrupted Batman.

“Whew, good thing. Cuz that lie was not going the way it sounded in my head.”

“Meet Tim Drake. Er…yes I mean… Meet Robin.” said Camael with a twinkle in his eye. “Life and legacy always go on…” He shifted his eyes toward the young Bajoran acolyte and Nils gaze followed. He locked his attention on his brother and couldn’t help but smile.

The world of Batman faded like dissipating smoke leaving the First and Nils alone in the Captain’s quarters back on board the Hawking. The transition was peaceful and anything but disorienting. Not even a wind stirred to signify the move.

Silent moments passed gently as Nils continued to smile, taking in the experience which had ended up being very real to him. The truth of the journey began a work that the young CO knew would continue. And in that knowing he felt peace.

The First shattered that peace with a baffled expression and said, “I don’t get it.”

With The Batman, Camael, Torrik Jachin and Tim Drake (Robin)
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Originally Posted 12/23/08 by Torrik Nils


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

"Dr. Seldon, this may rather seem out of the realm of reality….but I suppose if you are going to serve on the Hawking you might as well become accustomed to that."

Unfazed, Ender activated his medical tricorder and motioned for Usha Stryfe to ready the biofunction monitor, "I know these good looks are deceiving but I've been around for awhile," Seldon smirked, "I've seen it all."

T'Shaini raised one eyebrow. Let us hope that in this case cocky equals good. "This may challenge even your experience." She laid her hand on Harry's shoulder, he was so still, so pale. "There is…there is an energy seed planted by a Pagh Wraith within his brain."

"I'm sorry, but what the hell is a Pagh Wraith?" He asked while continuing to scan the XO.

"Evil Bajoran prophets…non-corporeal life-forms, who were expelled from the Bajoran wormhole." T'Shaini tried to make it as succinct as possible.

Ender nodded with mock understand, "Rigggght…Oh Usha! Can you pass me my flux capacitor so that I can travel back to the exact moment that Lieutenant became possessed by an evil Bajoran prophet!"

The counselor blinked at the flippant response. Did no one make the last missions logs available to him?

"A flux what, Sir?" Asked Usha in complete seriousness.

Ender threw up his hands, "Oh for the love…" He turned his attention back to T'Shaini, "I AM getting some rather strange readings from his Anterior Cingulate Cortex, in particular, with his rational cognitive functions. I can investigate and attempt to correct it but I need to know how this happened."

"I do not have the details of how it occured, I have only been given what little information he," and Camael… "could impart before losing consciousness." T'Shaini leaned in with an oh so earnest expression. "If you feel yourself ill equipped or unable to handle the situation, we might consult Jill Munro, I believe her experience might be more applicable to this situation."

Ender couldn't help but smile, Is anyone else in here getting turned on right now, "If you'd like to torture the answers our of him, SURE, bring on the evil doctor." He crossed over to the biofunction monitor, "I think we can wake him, if only for a few minutes, but that should give us enough time to figure out how exactly this may have happened." Ender picked up a hypospray and held it against Harry's neck before pausing to look up at T'Shaini, "That is….if it's alright with you? If you'd like me to call down Munro and her whips…by all means…"

"If you do not require her assistance, there is no need." T'Shaini said with a cool smile.

Ender injected Harry with 2cc of Netinaline and waited.

Sweet, soft, silent black was superseded by sharp, white, glaring… "What? What… oh hell, it's you…" Finn started to push himself up but a thrilling rush up his spine followed by a wave of disorientation dropped him back onto the bed within seconds.

"One never forgets their first love, Lieutenant", Ender looked up at the biofunction monitor, "So listen, apparently there's something messin' with your noodle, and before I can go in and work my magic I've got to know happened." Ender leaned in close, "How much do you know about this Pagh Wraith who is about to make you the star of The Exorcist part 16?"

Harry closed his eyes, but that wasn't better… One never forgets their first love… burning to death… His eyes snapped open, leaving the wraith-spawned corollary in the shadows, "Right… IAS… Temple," he found Wendy and looked at her while he spoke, "It threw me into a wall, while I was on the floor the thing… it had a name, Amojan… spit on me, looked like. But that wasn't it, not really." The world went white hot for a few seconds of eternity, "Microscopic piece of itself, deposited… here," he pointed to a spot at the base of his skull, "growing." He tried to focus on Seldon, "and you better put me down again, or stop thinking about your family because it likes being around you… it likes your despair. Crap…" He tried to roll away from the doctor, who's own private pain was like a freaking all you can eat buffet for junior…

A soft chuckle danced from the corner of the room. Eyebrows furrowed, Ender turned his attention from the cryptic message Harry just passed on to him, to the rolling laughter behind him.

"Johann…"

"Don't you find this amusing?" The man wiped his brow with a handkerchief.

"Not in the slightest." Ender turned to T'Shaini, "Do you see him?" He pointed to the man sitting on a bio bed across from Harry.

"No, I do not…but it does not surprise me that you do." T'Shaini looked around for Camael. "I can explain later, but there is nothing to be concerned with…as a matter of fact you may be rather pleased by the phantasmic exchange when all is said and done." She added with a slight curve of her lips.

Ender nodded slowly, "I'll take your word for it." He picked up another hypospray, "Harry, I need you to focus on what I'm telling you." Ender leaned over and gripped the man's head with his hands, "Harry…I'm going to put you into a deep coma. I promise I'll get this thing out of you. You understand me?"

"Tsk, tsk…Didn't they teach you anything about making promises to patients, Ender?" Sang the demon.

"Things change. I don't waste my time with protocol anymore, if I feel something, I say it!" He spat back.

The demon glanced away, "The solution of every problem is another problem."

Ender stared at him with an anger he didn't usually reveal, but then again Harry [b] had [/i]mentioned his family. That pain was raw, "Our passion are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes."

Johann turned to face him, "That's good. I should have thought of that."

"You did, you bastard."

T'Shaini reached out and gently laid her hand on the Doctor's arm. "Ender…" She had no idea what inner demons were now outer ones, but right now she needed him to focus on Harry, she had been given enough ammuniton to follow up on him later.

Ender snapped back to the Counselor, "Sorry….sorry…" he mumbled while shooting Johann an evil glare, "Harry…do you understand what I need to do?"

Nodding, he swallowed the bile of self-revulsion this alien thing was nurturing, "Got it… no big, been there," he looked again towards T'Shaini, "you'll take care of Jen…" but he couldn't finish… his thoughts were a kaleidescope of twisted images and reality fell away beneath the ever-increasing sway of the fledgeling wraith.

Wrapping her hands around one of his, the Vulcan sought to ease him by willing her own serenity for his.. "I will, if there is need…but there will not be."

Ender offered one last nod to Harry before pressing the hypo against his neck, "I'll see you in a few, buddy." He watched as the XO's eyes flickered, "And…Thank you…For the warning." And with that, Harry Finn's eyes closed.

A joint post by: Harry Finn, T'Shaini and Ender Seldon.
Originally Posted 12/23/08 by Ender Seldon


Corinth

“I look like a hooker,” Tatiana said as she ran her hands down the outfit. “No…not a hooker, a dominatrix.” She looked to the shop owner, “Do you have something a bit more conservative?”

He shook his head, and went to tend to the couple who had just entered the store. “This is ridiculous,” Thorne said, and followed Xena out of the establishment. They stopped to decide where they would go, “So what happens next?”

“I don’t know,” Xena answered and unhooked her chakram. “But whatever it is, is coming soon.” Her stance came off as nonchalant, but the warrior was tensed, ready for what she knew was ahead. The chakram lifted in the air, “Now!”

“What are you-” Tatiana didn’t have to finish, when the weapon went flying to run into the sword of a masked man running through the town. Before he could get away, an arrow went flying from in front of him. A town guard stood a few feet away from him, holding his bow tightly, his face white from the shock of using his weapon for the first time.

Xena ran to the fallen criminal, and ripped off the mask. “Tatiana prepare a space, he needs our help.”

Tatiana rushed back into the shop she had left only minutes before. She cleared the storekeeper’s counter off with her arms as Xena and one of the townsmen laid the criminal down. “He has an arrow sticking out of him,” she said stupidly and repeated, “This kid has an arrow sticking out of him.”

“Yes, he does, and we going to take it out.”

“Okay,” the doctor said, still staring at the arrow. “Wait…what? We’re taking it out?”

“I thought you were a healer,” Xena scolded and used her fingers to bring down the lids of the wounded boy. She brought her mouth next to his ear, and whispered soothingly to him.

“Look at this,” Thorne argued, pointing to the arrow. “Do you think I see this everyday? I don’t even have the right things to do this safely!”

She turned the boy on his uninjured side, and looked at Tatiana calmly. “I know what to do. The arrow didn’t pierce the other side. I have to push it through, then you’ll break the head of the arrow before-”

“There’s nothing we can give him to dull the pain?” she asked one of the onlookers that had crowded the establishment. None gave an answer, but watched as the two women debated the course of action to take.

“Tatiana pay attention! There’s no time to get him anything for the pain, he’ll bleed out first,” Xena said and got her bearings around the arrow. “Now on three, I’ll push it through, and you’ll break the head. Do you understand?”

Tatiana looked down at the boy worriedly, “Yes, let’s do it.”

“On three. One, two, three!” She pushed, and the boy let out a deafening scream, that made Tatiana flinch and close her eyes as to not see the pain on the young man’s face. “Break it now!”

The doctor put one hand around the head of the arrow, while her other grabbed the shaft. It dug into her hand, she ignored the pain as she applied pressure, and bent the head, “Ah,” she groaned, and released the end to see her hand bleeding from a cut. She didn’t stop to attend to the wound, but instead applied pressure to the boy’s back, while Xena pulled the broken arrow back through the point of entry.

“There,” she said and pointed to the wound. “is where the problem lies. I usually will seal the wound with a hot poker, but I can’t.”

“Because it went through his kidney,” Tatiana finished. “Without the right things, I can’t exactly fix it. This twine and needle,” she said indicating the meager supplies, “won’t be enough. I can remove the organ though. He can survive with one kidney, not that it matters though…this isn’t real anyway.”

She pulled the dagger out of the holder attached to her boot, “Yet you’re still helping. Real or not, good or not, you can’t stop yourself.” The warrior then pulled a candle close to her and ran the weapon over the flame with the intention of sterilizing it. She held it out for Tatiana to take, “It’s not something that should cause you trouble, you’ll see soon enough.”

“What do you mean ‘I’ll see soon enough’?”

“Not now,” she said, and held down the boy. “It’s time for you to work.”

Tatiana nodded, and braced the weapon in her hand. She sliced through the layers of epidermis, ignoring the whimpers, until she could see the bleeding kidney. She eyed the organ, “I can fix it, but look at where we are, there’s no way infection won’t set in. I’m taking it out.” With the dagger, she began the process of Simple Nephrectomy. Once the procedure was over, she handed the kidney to Xena, and closed the incisions. “Look at the back of it,” she told the woman. “It’s taken a beating; whoever treated him last time…” she shook her head, there was no need for her to continue on, “it’s good I took it out. Some has to close the wound to his back.” She wiped her bloody hands on her clothing, and turned around to see an older portly man standing in front of the group.

“When will he be well enough to be incarcerated?” he asked without preamble.

“He’s nothing more than a boy, he deserves another chance,” Xena argued with who they could only assume was Corinth’s magistrate.

“Look, I didn’t save his life just for you to lock him away forever,” Tatiana “You don’t even know his situation, how can you judge him so quickly?”

The older man threw his hands up in the air, “Because he has broken our laws, and that is why he will be locked away. I will not discuss this any longer. the boy will be taken to the hospice where he will be treated as you requested and heal before being sent away.” He was finished speaking with the women, and motioned for the guards to pick up the injured boy and carry him to the hospice.

Tatiana stood staring at the door, long after they left. “Aren’t you going to do anything?” she asked quietly.

“What do you expect me to do?” the warrior asked curiously.

Tatiana looked at the woman in frustration, “I don’t know, you’re Xena, you’re always supposed to do something.”

The older woman shrugged, “Any other day, but today is your lesson. Go to speak to the boy he is probably conscious now.”

“Will this be over if I do?”

“Perhaps,” Xena answered cryptically with a small smile.

Featuring: The Warrior Princess
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Originally Posted 12/24/08 by Tatiana Thorne


"I hear you're looking for me," a pleasant voice intoned as Javier stepped out of the Event Horizon's doors. The engineer jumped back a few paces, surprised by the jack-in-the-box appearance of their visitor. "Who told you I was looking for you?" the engineer asked. He was certain that he had only told Cadet Wekesa that he was going to speak to Camael. "I suppose I overheard someone say it," Camael replied before giving the engineer a guileless smile, "but now that you have found me, we can discuss whatever was on your mind." The smile came back even as Javier stared at the man warily. He didn't know why everyone else on the ship was so accepting of the stranded visitor, gravitating towards him, talking openly and freely with the cheerful, soft-spoken man.

There's something about him that doesn't quite fit. Javier thought as he looked down at Camael. "Maybe you can explain why you ignored your shuttle's alarm system when.." His focal point switched from just over Camael's left shoulder to the older man's eyes. "you flew into the nebula." Camael's eyes were black as coal. Their darkness swallowed the room around him.

A chink of light could be seen beneath the door. A rough scraping noise told Terasakai that the guards were unlocking his small cell. The door swung open and he was momentarily blinded by the burst of light that flooded into the shadowy cell. The young samurai moved away from the small mat he had been sitting on, rising to face the shogun's guards.

"It is time," the guard informed the young warrior.

"I am prepared," Terasakai replied as he stepped forward. The last few hours had been time spent in reflection of the past months. He had come to the conclusion that his path was the correct one and if the outcome was death, then he was prepared to follow the course to its end. The four guards formed a loose square around him and gave the order to proceed. Their path took them from the lower guardhouse through the garden of Edo palace and towards the place of execution.

"More than the cherry blossoms, inviting a wind to blow them away, I am wondering what to do. With the remaining Springtime," the young warrior whispered to himself as he remembered Naganori's death poem. He had not bothered to write one himself, he was not in mourning nor would Terasakai allow death to break his spirit.

The guards took a sudden turn and Terasakai wondered if he were being taken to another place farther away from Edo castle. The shogun does not wish for my dishonor to taint the grounds of Edo castle. the warrior figured. But instead of leading him away from the shogun's residence, the guards escorted the young man up the steps of the military deputy's reception hall. Within the large hall, the shogun and a number of daimyo were assembled, waiting for Terasakai. His guards left him to face the assembly, removing themselves from the room.

A stillness broke over the room as Terasakai bowed low before the lords.

"Rise please and face us," the shogun's voice entreated. Terasakai did as requested and was astonished to find the lords had bowed respectfully in his direction. "The bakufu and myself can find no fault with your actions and the deeds of the other forty-six samurai," Lord Tokugawa explained, "you followed the code that dictates a warrior's actions and brought justice to one who deserved it. However, the others attacked a person who was under the protection of this royal house and so we find ourselves at a quandary. Your fellow samurai have been allowed to commit seppuku as their honor demands."

Terasakai released the breath he had been holding. Seppuku, I will retain my honor..and soon see my friend Naganori. the samurai thought to himself.

"Because of your youth," the shogun continued, "and because you did not participate in the slaying of Lord Kira, you have been spared. It would please me if you would remain in my service as an honored member of my court."


He withdrew the hairpins and watched as Okichi's hair cascaded onto her shoulders. "You can stay here," Terasakai offered, "it is my house and I live on a sizeable stipend." He hesitated then said, "I have everything I need except companionship, someone to converse with in the evening hours. There are other rooms within the house and you would have privacy."

"I do not understand." Okichi bowed her head. "I understand that all you have cared for have been taken away from you, but the Shogun favors you, certainly you will find your place among his retinue." She looked up through her lashes. "I am grateful for the honor that you proffer, but there is no need, I can be hired to entertain whenever you see fit."

"The counsel you offered was sage advice," Terasakai explained, "it came in a time of desperate need and led me to believe that I had found a lily among the coarse river reeds." He sighed as a man would after laying down a heavy burden. "Is it wrong to want to covet this lily? To hide it away so I will not have to share it with others? he asked the geisha.

As facile as her wit was, Okichi found herself unable, or unwilling to counter his entreaty. "I…" She could feel the urge to twist her hands nervously, but her training won out and they lay still at her sides. "it is my duty to fulfill whatever wishes you command." In opposition to her cool, professional words, her voice trembled with suppressed emotion.

"It is my duty to serve the shogun, to live in this residence and perform my daily routine," the young man stated. "It is my choice to seek you out because I find comfort in your words and presence Okichi. It is your choice to remain here or to return to your professional life." His hands brushed her hair back from her shoulders and removed the wayward strands that sought to hide her face. "It is my choice to offer you my residence as shelter, not as my concubine, but as a treasured guest whose company I prefer above all others."

A blossoming of wonder swelled within at the realization that this man saw her for who she was, not what she was. "It is my pleasure that you seek me out, my joy that I can bring comfort," Her hand stretched tentatively forward to entwine her fingers with his. "and it is my delight to be so preferred by so noble a man."

He watched as his hand took hers, their fingers intertwining and slowly he brought her to him until they embraced. Her sigh of relief mirrored his own as he held his most treasured lily. The room faded and changed as the white and browns became blues. The light from the lanterns grew brighter but with an artificial glow.

It took Javier a moment to realize he was in sickbay, holding T'Shaini, his lily, his sage counselor and treasured companion. Her words had brought him comfort many times and her presence was a solace in times of struggle and hurt. The purpose of his dreams became clearer as he held T'Shaini. "You're my confidant and adviser," he whispered to her, "you have my heart and my trust, and your wisdom brings me strength. You heal my deeper wounds and bring joy to places where before there was only hurt and sorrow."

There was no need for her to look when she felt his arms slide around her, there was a deeper recognition at his touch that needed no confirmation. But his words…his words brought a blossoming of wonder and warmth that she was so fortunate as to have been brought together with this man. Leaning back into his embrace, T'Shaini turned her head slightly to whisper. "And so are you for me. 'The soul guardian's guardian' as the Dosi so aptly put it."

"Guardian of my heart is what they should have named you," he replied softly, hugging T'Shaini tighter in the embrace.

JP with my treasured lily T'Shaini
Originally Posted 12/24/08 by Javier Costala


Into the Woods

Harry climbed to the plateau and just stood, looking around. It was fall, which was right, but the place was empty of what it had held back in ‘47.

“I thought, while Ender was working so hard to save you, we could take the opportunity to talk.”

Harry turned towards the cavern to see, of course, “Camael." He tilted his head, considering the alleged historian, "What’s going on?”

“Well, for one thing, you are in a coma,” the little man found a convenient rock near the edge of the cave’s entrance and perched upon it.

Finn eyed the oddity of a man, “I’ve been in coma’s before,” he pointed out, “generally, they don’t allow for dreaming.”

“This is not a dream… anymore than your travels with the Doctor were.”

“Then…”

“Think of it as… your consciousness taking a voyage.”

Offering Camael a pointed look, “With a passenger.”

“Indeed… but I take up very little space…”

Harry crossed the plateau, only hesitating slightly as he crossed the mid point between them, “You didn’t let me come here, before, when I wanted to learn who murdered my father.”

“In fact, Lieutenant, it was you who didn’t let you come here.”

“Because,” Harry said, working his way through what little he understood of current events, “I don’t know who did it, so… there was no way for the Doctor… or you… to know.”

Camael’s eyes danced, “But even not knowing the answer, you chose to return to this place… yes, Harry, the destination is your choice… this scene, this… unsolved mystery, this one unanswered question…”

“The missing piece of the puzzle,” Harry capped the sentence, then paused. “Not an empty space,” he continued, his own expression turning inward, looking, perhaps, at the space which so many had insisted he carried… from Sara to the Pah Wraith… even Kerrin, the first time they’d spoken. “Or, empty but… empty because it’s missing a piece…”

“And the missing piece is… the unknown killer?” Camael looked intrigued.

But Harry wasn’t listening to his companion… he was hearing the boy he’d once been tell the detective who’d caught the case ‘I’ll find him’. “I made a promise… that I’d find the killer,” he murmured, “then time passed… years… the case went cold and… I never did. I joined the ‘Fleet, instead. I left it all behind.”

“Not really behind,” Camael pointed out. “In the ‘Fleet you continued to seek justice…”

“But not for him,” Harry said, “and I’d promised.”

“You were a child,” Camael said, softly.

Harry stared hard at the ground where Jack Finn had lain, “I know,” he said, accepting that, yes, at nine there was little he could have done to find the killer. “But,” his eyes, so very sharp, looked back to Camael, “I’m not a child, now.”

“True for you,” the scholar said with a nod. “But now,” he added with a regretful sigh, “the time is come for us to part and, should Ender succeed in his efforts, you might take with you the knowledge that it is very hard indeed to keep a promise, of any kind, from beyond the grave.” And with a sly wink and a wave of the hand, Camael watched Harry fade from the landscape of his memory, to be returned to the dubious shelter of his own besieged body. The woods remained but a moment more and last, though far from least, Camael stuffed his hands in his coat pockets and whistling a jaunty tune, sauntered off into the void.

Featuring Camael
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Originally Posted 12/25/08 by Harry Finn


The Constitution-class starship sailed through the air, quickly losing altitude as it plummeted downwards. Time seemed to pass in slow motion as the ship spiraled out of control. With a crack, it hit the wall, sending a nacelle clattering across the floor, and rocked back and forth as it settled on the floor.

Simba looked at the remnants of the toy starship, dismayed, as he pushed himself up off the floor, his lips still pursed to create the hum of an impulse engine. He scowled at the rug whose edge had abruptly ended his mission as he had run through the house and picked up the pieces of the ship. Nothing a little glue couldn’t fix… the ship had been drydocked for similar incidents many times before.

For as long as he could remember, Simba had wanted to be in Starfleet. When he was younger, he could remember his uncle, a Starfleet security officer, telling him stories about the worlds he had visited and the wonders he had seen. The adventure of it all was very appealing to the young boy, and he’d made up his mind long ago that he, too, would one day grow up to travel the stars.

He paused at an open window as he carried the broken starship back to his room. The night air carried with it the fresh scent of the summer night. The stars twinkled enticingly above the dark shapes of the trees. The glow of the nearby city lights obscured the more distant stars; stars waiting to someday be seen up-close. Simba stared up at the sky with wonder. He never got tired of looking at it, of imagining the countless worlds and peoples that lived out there.

“Hey, Simba… what do you see out there?” His father walked up behind the small boy and put his hand on his shoulder.

“Nothing,” replied Simba, quietly. “Just looking at the stars.”

“Ahh, dreaming again.” Khamisi Wekesa smiled to himself as he followed his son’s gaze out the window. “Someday, you will see them up close for yourself.”

Simba looked over his shoulder and up at his father skeptically. “That’s not what mum says. She says I should stay here… that it is the best place for me.”

His father sighed, sympathetically. “She is just afraid that something will happen to you. She loves you very much and wants you to be safe. But you must follow your own path, Simba.”

“Yes, father.” There was silence for a few moments until his father spoke again.

“It is getting late, and you have school tomorrow. Time for bed, Simba.” He took the broken starship from Simba’s hands and surveyed the damage. “Tomorrow, we’ll fix this up good as new, OK?”

“Alright.” Simba smiled weakly. “Have a good night, father,” he added as he turned away from the window and walked down the hall towards his room.

“Woah, excuse me,” said Simba, almost colliding with a crewman coming around the corner as he walked down the corridor. He shook his head, the disorientation rapidly fading as he found himself back on the Hawking. Maybe he was just tired… but no, Lt. Costala had said he was dreaming too. Something else was going on, and they needed to figure out what it was.

“But now, must sleep,” Simba muttered to himself as he approached the doors to his quarters. Whatever phenomenon was going on would still be there in the morning. And if not, he figured, good riddance.

Originally Posted 12/27/08 by Simba Wekesa


"Daddy?"

Matt Hudson lifted his tortured eyes to look into the innocent ones of his beloved daughter. While she had only moments ago been asleep, she held no trace of being sleepy. Her eyes searched his with a degree of maturity he knew was foreign for his 'real' daughter given her tender years.

"Are you ok Daddy?"

Matt tried to respond, but the pit of despair that he was slowly beginning to drown in once more had all but engulfed him. He wanted to respond. He needed to respond, knowing that living a 'torture-free' delusion was better than living through the what he had in the past. It had almost destroyed him last time. Their deaths. He was not sure he could survive it again, the knowledge of what he had done, what he had lost… especially after hearing her carefree laughter once more. He knew now that it wouldn't bring joy to his heart like it had earlier that day, knew it would slice through him, cutting invisible wounds that could not be healed.

"Daddy, it is OK."

A guttural cry pierced the room and it took Matt moments to realise that the animal-like sound had come from his own lips.

"How can it be?" His voice rasped barely above a whisper.

His daughter gave a slight smile. Soft and tender. As soft and tender as her mother might have given her once before. "You will be OK, I know you will."

She reached out towards him and placed her small hand upon his. Though her touch was light, he expected it to burn deep into his skin. After all, he deserved no better. She was dead because of him, why shouldn't her touch punish him like he wanted to keep punishing himself.

It didn't burn. Instead the butterfly touch traced gently along his hand, leaving a sweet trail behind it.

"You have to be strong."

Matt looked up to see that he and his delusions were no longer alone. The elderly gentleman that stood behind his daughter smiled down at him kindly. He stepped forward and ruffled Maddison's hair softly, the small child responding with a gregarious smile.

Matt tried to form a response, but what could he say. Strong for what? He didn't need strength to survive. He didn't deserve to survive.

Originally Posted 12/28/08 by Matt Hudson


The young Simba lay sprawled out on his bedroom floor, on his belly, kicking his feet randomly in the air as he tapped through the lessons on his school PADD. Homework is boring, he thought as he pushed the PADD aside and propped his chin on his hands. He looked around the room. It was small, but felt large from a child's perspective. The room was cluttered with an array of toys and the walls were decorated with posters of space and starships. Simba's eyes came to rest on a small holographic picture of the family next to the bed. The image stirred a feeling deep inside of him, but he couldn't quite place it. Whatever feeling it was, it came from far away… a different place, in a different time.

He pondered the picture for a moment, in the limited way that a child considers such things. It felt like he hadn't seen his parents or his sister in years, although he knew he had seen them all that very afternoon. He felt a sudden longing, and something else that he didn't know how to describe.

Somewhere in the house, a clock struck seven times. Simba frowned as he listened to the time… it was getting late, and he hadn't had dinner yet. It was unusual… cooking, for Ayo Wekesa, was an afternoon ritual. His mother didn't believe in replicators, and she spent hours of each afternoon in the hot kitchen preparing all of the family's food fresh. His parents weren't exactly traditionalists, but they were certainly settled in their comfortable lifestyle. They tended to believe that their home would always be here, in Ghana, and that their children should feel the same. They were rooted in their native culture, and they didn't travel far from home, even on Earth- much to the chagrin of their adventurous son, who longed to see the universe for himself.

Simba let his mind drift for a moment more, then pushed himself off the floor and looked out the window. The sun was sinking low in the sky, bathing the landscape in a surreal orange glow. He left his room and quietly made his way towards the stairs, hoping to avoid Ashanti's attention as he slipped past his sister's room. God, she bugged him. He glanced through her open door as he passed, but she was hard at work coloring with her back to him. Pleased with his successful evasion, he made his way down the stairs and onto the first floor landing. He didn't smell dinner cooking, and the house was eerily quiet. Simba took a few steps down the hall and stopped. He had heard something… it sounded like a woman crying. He tilted his head to the side, trying to locate the sound. There were voices coming from the sitting room… hushed, serious adult voices. Tiptoeing around a creaky floorboard which had betrayed him many times before, Simba made his way to the living room door and peered cautiously around the corner.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Wekesa, there is really nothing more I can do." A tall, silver-haired man in a Starfleet uniform was standing in the room. Simba's mother was sitting on the sofa, her head in her hands, and his father stood behind her, slowly caressing her shoulder as he listened to the stranger speak.

"But there has to be something else! Somewhere that the escape pods could have made it… you can't have checked everywhere." She looked up at the officer, her expression pleading with him as she grasped for anything she could. Khamisi shook his head sadly, knowing that her frustration was in vain.

"Ma'am," the Starfleet officer looked at her sympathetically. "You have to understand. The Lancer went missing five months ago. When we found the debris last week, we determined that there were no survivors. It was an accident, and it would have been quick. I am sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but there is no way that Lt. Akuso or anyone else aboard could possibly have made it out…" he paused, realizing that he was, perhaps, being a bit insensitive. "I want you to know that you have mine… and all of Starfleet's deepest condolences for your loss."

Simba's eyes widened as he listened to the words. Lt. Akuso… his uncle, and his mother's only brother, had officially been missing in action and now was dead. He leaned back against the wall, fighting back the tears that were gathering in his eyes. He could hear his mother crying again, but he couldn't move. The sounds of the conversation and the rest of the world faded into dull background noise as Simba lost himself in his own sadness. He didn't know exactly how long he stood there, but when he looked back into the room, the Starfleet officer had left and his father was slowly closing the front door behind him. His mother had stopped crying, and was staring blankly at the door as it closed. His father sat next to her on the sofa and held her, whispering something in her ear. She smiled a little and nodded slightly.

Still processing the news himself, Simba turned slowly and walked back towards the stairs. He had lost his appetite, and he just wanted to be alone now in his room. There was a loud creak as the floorboard gave away his presence. He froze instinctively, as if it would somehow make him invisible, then turned as he felt his father's presence behind him.

"You heard?" he asked softly. Simba nodded without making eye contact as his father embraced him. "He was a good man, Simba, never forget that. It was not his time… it isn't any of their times." He exhaled slowly. "If anything were ever to happen to you, I don't know what your mother and I would do."

Originally Posted 12/30/08 by Simba Wekesa


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

“What did it all mean?” The First stood transfixed in the center of the room, which had reformed around them. “Did that really happen?”

Nils looked around and even ran his hand along the bulkhead to make certain it felt solid. The nebula had retaken its spot outside his viewport and everything seemed to have returned to normal. But something still felt very, very different. “It happened,” the CO said quietly. “And I think it meant…” Nils smiled. “I think it meant we’re going to be okay.”

Gazing out into the swirling purple and blue gasses of the anomalous nebula the two men let the quiet embrace them. It did feel different somehow – for both of them.

“I read more than one of the Terran comic books,” Nils admitted sheepishly. He reacted in shame to the acolyte’s boyish grin. “I mean… I did like the stories.”

“But you said that you… I thought…”

“I wasn’t quite forthright,” the Bajoran said with a small smile. “My time at the academy was the first time I was truly free and out on my own. I was afraid… And haunted by everything that had happened to me up to that point. I suppose I still am to a certain extent.” He paused and looked back at the undulating cloud in space. “There’s a certain satisfaction in imagining what it might be like to be Batman, to be alone in the dark and not be afraid. And there his quest does give purpose to what seems like a meaningless world.”

“I get that,” said the First kindly. He hesitated before continuing, but the moment felt ripe for more conversation. “Jillian’s death felt meaningless…didn’t it?”

Nils nodded sadly and his smile faded. “It still does.”

“My brother taught me that there is purpose in death. That in our sacrifice to the Wraiths we have meaning and we are consumed in their fires to add light to their glory.” He shook his head and added, “Somehow that seems even more meaningless.” A long pause stretched between them and the younger looked up to the elder in contemplation. “What is death?”

"Oh, is that all?” Nils smirked at the young man who looked so much like him. “Jachin, you're asking probably the most difficult of all questions. Some see it as a changing in an indestructible form, forever unchanging; they believe that the purpose of the entire universe is to maintain that form in an earth-like garden which will give delight and pleasure through all eternity. On the other hand, there are those who hold to the idea of our blinking into nothingness. That all of our experiences and hopes and dreams, merely a delusion." Nils voiced trailed off coldly at the pronunciation of nothingness.

"Which do you believe, Captain?"

The faithful Bajoran took a moment to think before answering. He knew what he’d been trained to say. And he knew that he probably should refuse to answer the question based on his very limited experience on the subject. "Considering the marvelous complexity of the universe, its clockwork perfection, its balances of this against that, matter, energy, gravitation, time, dimension… I believe that our existence must be more than either of these philosophies. That what we are goes beyond Euclidean or other ‘practical’ measuring systems, and that our existence is part of a reality beyond what we understand now as reality."

“Now you sound like Alfred,” said the First. “I still don’t understand why we were taken for such a ride.”

Again Nils smiled down at the man who was quickly becoming ‘brother.’ “I think I do…” He left it there, but grasped the acolyte by the shoulder. “I’m going to call you Jachin from now on. It feels…right.”

Nils thought for a moment that the ‘Nameless One’ would object. The look on his face was one shade lighter than horified. Then the expression shifted and softened. “I think you should.”

“Did I ever tell you I once died?”

“What?” The genuine shock beaming from the young Bajoran’s face was priceless.

“It’s true. You see we were…”

=/\= T’Shaini to Captain Torrik. =/\=

“No way,” said Jachin in frustration. “You have to finish that…”

Nils held up a finger and tapped his combadge with the other hand. “Go ahead, Counselor.”

=/\= I’m glad to finally reestablish communications with you. Ship’s systems have been unpredictable today. But that isn’t why I’m contacting you. It seems Harry’s been compromised by a Pah Wraith presence from your experiences aboard the IAS Hawking. He is alright, but you should make your way to sickbay as soon as you can. =/\=

One eyebrow on Nils forehead rose slowly up his brow, followed closely by the other as he tried to internalize T’Shaini’s brief but shocking revelation.

“I’m on my way,” he said before cutting the comsignal.

“But you haven’t told me about when you died,” Jachin pleaded.

Nils smiled warmly and backed out of the room. He paused briefly and nodded. “There’s time… I think there’s time.”

With Torrik Jachin
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Originally Posted 12/30/08 by Torrik Nils


Simba Wekesa took a deep breath as he maneuvered his way through the crowded main hallway of the Starfleet Academy administration building. He didn't know quite what he was doing there, but he felt nervous. It seemed like just a moment ago that he was a young boy trying to fall asleep, tossing and turning in his bed after learning of his uncle's death in the line of duty. When he opened his eyes, he found himself here, walking through the front doors of the building with a purpose. He glanced down at himself and discovered quickly that he was no longer a child but now a young man, though still wearing civilian clothing.

The disorientation faded rapidly as the details of his current circumstances flooded in. Simba had been living in San Francisco for the last six months, studying and working odd jobs around town. The last few years had been difficult… ever since he had solidified his intentions to join Starfleet, his relationship with his mother had deteriorated steadily. His father had tried to remain neutral, playing peacemaker, but that had ultimately taken its toll as well. Eventually, he had more or less stopped talking to them altogether, making a conscious decision to make a clean break with his past… with the first seventeen years of his life. And so he had moved here, the home of Starfleet headquarters, making new friends and learning about new cultures.

It wasn't that he hated his parents… resentment was a better term for it. He resented his mother for trying to control his life, and his father for not siding with him against her. As far as Simba was concerned, he had the right to go where he wanted and make what he wanted to of his life. And yet, because his mother didn't agree and had her own aspirations for him, somehow she felt that hers were far more important. That it was reasonable for her to demand that he disregard his own feelings and do whatever would make her happy. The whole situation made him angry whenever he thought about it, so he kept it out of his mind. The only person from "home" that he ever talked to was his sister, Ashanti, but she was busy enough with her own pursuits that any communication was rare. Fortunately for him, he was generally easygoing and made friends easily. It made it easier to live the life that he wanted and to immerse himself in his new reality without many questions from others.

Confidently, Simba strode through the doors to the admissions office. He'd been here a few times before, taking preliminary exams and other qualifications to be accepted into the Academy. But today was the big day… the one that would ultimately decide if he was to be admitted or not. He stopped at the reception desk and let the young woman working behind it know that he was here, then took a seat in the waiting area with a handful of other youth from around the Federation.

Relax, Simba, you have nothing to worry about.

While he waited, he pondered his future career and the options that came with it. He'd thought about pursuing security… he had always been strong and athletic, but the potential for violence was distasteful. Science was a possibility. He had liked his science courses in school. On the other hand, he'd scored well on the engineering tests in the preliminary admissions exams. Engineering could be interesting. Problem-solving was always one of his strengths, and there were plenty of directions to go within that field.

"Simba Wekesa?" The voice of the young ensign looking around the room stirred him from his thoughts. There would be plenty of time to pick a field later… first things first, he needed to actually be accepted to the academy.

"Right here," Simba replied, putting on a smile as he stood up from his seat and stepped forward.

"If you'll come with me, the Commander can see you now." She turned and led him down a short hall and into the office. The doors parted as they approached and she gestured for Simba to enter, then disappeared back into the hallway as he entered the room.

"Mr. Wekesa, I presume? Ah yes, a pleasure. I'm Commander Davis, one of the admissions officers here at the Academy. Please, be seated." The Commander was an older man, actually quite elderly, who talked rather quickly and seemed to be full of energy.

Simba felt a pang of familiarity as he shook the man's hand and sat down across the desk. He cocked his head slightly, trying to place the old man. "I'm sorry sir… have we met somewhere before? You seem familiar."

The Commander's eyes twinkled as he sat back down as well. "That is quite possible… quite possible indeed. Yes, the universe does work in many mysterious ways… paths cross in ways which you may not yet realize." He smiled mysteriously. "But that's not why we are here now. No, certainly not. Your test scores and qualifications are all quite good, Mr. Wekesa," he added as he skimmed over a PADD. "So tell me, why is it that you want to be a Starfleet officer?"

"It's all I have ever wanted to be since I was a child, sir." The words rolled off his tongue… he'd gone through his responses so many times in his head on the way here. "I've always been interested in space and the universe around us. In learning of other civilizations and meeting their peoples, and exploring the universe up-close."

"I see that you had an uncle in Starfleet. How has that influenced your decision?"

"My uncle… my uncle died seven years ago aboard the U.S.S. Lancer. When I was a young boy… very much younger, he used to tell me stories about the worlds he had visited and the experiences he had in Starfleet. It was… it was inspirational to me, I suppose. I can remember how excited I used to get and how I wanted to see it all for myself."

"No, no, no… that isn't what I meant at all. I want to know how his death influenced your decision."

Simba paused. That was one question he was most definitely not anticipating. There was still something familiar about this commander and his soul-piercing gaze. "I… I'm sorry, sir, I don't know what to say." He had never really considered the matter before, but now that he did, his uncle's death had been a turning point in his life.

"You mean to say that you never thought about that?" The commander seemed almost to know his thoughts. "What sort of impact do you suppose that had on your parents? Your mother? How does she feel about you being here right now? How will she feel when you, too, are someday assigned to a starship and sent out into deep space?"

Suddenly, as if on cue, all of his thoughts and memories came rushing back to him. Simba jumped up, knocking the chair backwards, as he realized who he was. He wasn't a seventeen year-old, angry at everything that had made him who he was and trying desperately to be accepted into Starfleet Academy. He was Cadet Simba Wekesa, an Academy graduate, and a twenty-four year old engineer aboard the U.S.S. Hawking. And, more to the point, his conversation with the admissions officer had never gone down this path and the old man sitting behind the desk was definitely not a Starfleet Commander. "You! What… how… what have you done with me?"

Camael smiled and held his hands up to calm the cadet. "I have only helped you to explore your own life. To see parts of yourself that you had forgotten. Memories and feelings that you had locked up and thrown away the key. All of this was within you… I simply found the key and put it in the lock."

"But why?"

"Ah, yes, why indeed. There is much you still have to learn about life, my young friend. Yes, very much so. Your past, your heritage, is a part of who you are, whether you like to admit it or not. It isn't something you can simply choose to ignore, you are incomplete without it." He paused, letting his words sink in. "But you never answered my last question. How do you think your mother feels?"

Simba frowned pensively. He hadn't thought about her for a long time, but the memories Camael had unearthed seemed fresh and vivid as though they had happened yesterday. "It all changed when my uncle died. Before that, she… well, she always felt it was important to keep a tie to my roots, but she never tried to stop me from living my own life and achieving my own dreams."

"She loves you very much." Camael shuffled around the desk and leaned back on it next to Simba. "She only wanted to protect you… to keep you from being hurt. She never meant to constrict you."

"But I was too blinded by my own feelings to see it," Simba added softly. "I was too young to understand when he died, and by the time I was old enough to really understand it… I had been resentful for so long that I didn't know how to be anything else. And when I moved here," he gestured around the room at the San Francisco skyline out the window. "I tried hard to leave behind everything I had been. I changed the way I talked, what I ate… everything."

Camael smiled. "Well, it's only natural. You associated your native culture with your parents… they wanted you to stay in it, after all. Though I don't think it's quite so different as you seem to think." The elderly man put his hand on Simba's shoulder. "It's part of who you are, though, and you can gain strength from it. Embrace your roots… they are more a part of you than you realize." Camael looked deep into his eyes and Simba understood what he was doing for him. "I think it's about time you get back to the present. Oh, but one more thing… your family may not have wanted you to leave, but they would be very proud of what you have become now that you have. You aren't a child anymore, you are a grown man and you can protect yourself. They'll understand… and you will be much happier if you embrace them as well."

Camael's form and the office on Earth slowly faded and Simba found himself standing in the corridor outside of his quarters on the Hawking. Slowly, he reached out and touched the wall. It was solid… real. He exhaled, relieved… relieved not only to be back in his current life, but also feeling more complete. He couldn't say he understood what Camael had done to him, but he could appreciate what he had done for him. It would probably be a good idea to find the real Camael and find out more, but it didn't seem like it was important right now. All the years of pent up resentment and silence seemed to have washed away… not bad for a day's work.

Simba smiled to himself, feeling content, as he pressed the control to open the door. He was ready to get a good night's sleep and maybe, before the start of his shift in engineering the next morning, write a letter to his parents.

Originally Posted 01/02/09 by Simba Wekesa


:: USS Hawking ::
:: Deck 5 ::

Still pondering lessons learned during his journey into the depths of Gotham, Commander Torrik walked quickly through the corridors of the starship he called home. The past day's events (had it been a day?) still picked at his brain, but he forced himself into the moment. T'Shaini's message had been almost, but not quite, urgent. Finn had been hurt and was recovering in sick bay. The Bajoran had wasted no time and left his brother to work through their shared experience in his quarters.

"How is he," Nils called the moment the doors swooshed open. It took him a moment to actually find Finn on a biobed, and he crossed quickly. "Is he going to be okay?" He took a place next to T'Shaini, who stood like a sentry to one side of the bed.

"Yes." Fingers still entwined with Javier, the counselor lifted her eyes, Nils looked as if…well, he looked as if he had spent time with Camael's visions as well. Haggard yes, but something had shifted. "Dr. Seldon, though…rough around the edges, if I may put it that way, is quite skilled."

"I see," answered the CO trying to sound official. He glanced around to see if their new CMO happened to be within earshot. With the Doctor no where in sight, he felt it was safe to continue. "So our 'Number One' picked up a hitchhiker from the mirror universe, huh? Typical. Harry seems the type to take in strays," Nils said dryly. His attempt at humor seemed particularly ill-timed considering his surroundings and the obvious missing person from the room. In spite of his loss, or perhaps because of it, he pressed on. "I take that back. Harry doesn't seem that type at all…"

"Well there was Kerrin.." Javier started before picking up on the CO's vibe. "Nope, not the type," the engineer agreed with Nils. He squeezed T'Shaini's hand reassuringly then decided it was best not to say anything else.

"Something that feeds on despair…" T'Shaini's voice was heavy with sorrow, not only that such a thing could exist in any universe, but that it's most likely subject was Harry. "I wish…"

"Careful what you wish for," the slightly blurry words filtered up from the bed as one blue eye squinted up, "someone may be listening…"

"Indeed," T'Shaini's voice stayed level, but her fingers tightened around Javier's. "and knowing what we now know, that may not be a bad thing." She leaned over the bed so that she come make eye contact…however hazy her image may have been. "We would not have known enough for Dr. Seldon to save you if that 'someone' had not intervened."

Harry's eyes narrowed, "Did you all see Doctor Who, too?"

"Doctor who?" Javier asked in confusion.

"Well, technically just 'The Doc…" Harry began.

"Is he suffering some sort of amnesia," Nils asked T'Shaini in concern. "Harry," he said seriously as he leaned over the biobed. "Our new Doctor is called Seldon. Ender Seldon."

"Nils," Harry echoed his CO's tone, "I know that. I'm talking about a fictional character from Old Earth who appeared in my quarters and took me through space and time to see… well a few things… but the finale was Kosst Amojan sneaking some of his DNAlien into my brain." His glance included Wendy and Javier, "And the whole trip felt as real as this, right now…"

"No need to try and convince me," the Bajoran said with a slow nod. "I can…relate."

"What if this is a dream?" Javier said in a low whisper. "They were so real.." The engineer turned towards T'Shaini, hesitated, then kissed her lovely Vulcan lips. "No, that was definitely the real thing," he said with a smile as he withdrew from T'Shaini's warm mouth. "This is reality," Javier assured them, "I think it's safe to say I'm an expert in that testing method." He looked from the XO to the CO then back to the counselor. "Yes, quarters, later," he agreed reading their features.

"Right," Harry shook off the remains of Seldon's drugs and swung himself up to sitting while doing his best not to think about Kerrin, whether she'd be willing to talk to him ever again and if, maybe, that was a good thing. Seeing Sara's ghost had been unnerving, to say the least. "I guess everyone got to go on a field trip, then?" His eyes reluctantly sought out those of his commander, wondering what he'd see, there.

Seeing the direction of Harry's gaze, T'Shaini took a step back, there are things that I cannot be party to or assist no matter how much I wish to, and really it was not how it was resolved but that it was resolved that mattered. It made little difference that it was not this Harry that was involved in Jillian's death, the repercussions from that act reverberated through these men as if it had been. "I believe, now that we are witness to your survival, it would be best for everyone if Javier and I…" She smiled gently at the two men before her, as much defined by their inner demons as their sense of duty. "retired to our quarters."

The phrase 'retired to our quarters' made Javier's grin widen. "Harry, I'm glad that you're recovering well," he said in parting. "Nils, let's play tri-level battleships later..tomorrow maybe," the engineer offered before turning to T'Shaini. "And you," Javier said, picking up the counselor, "I've had enough of dreams..lets go work on some fantasies." With a nod to the two senior officers, he set out for the welcome solitude of he and T'Shaini's quarters.

"They seem happy," commented Nils with a crooked grin that belied his uneven emotional response. Of course, he was happy for them and the life they were building together on the ship. But the sight also brought darker feelings. He turned slowly back to Harry and his smile, as crooked as it was, faded to an even nothing. "How are you, Harry? Really."

"Well, I don't have the urge to drink myself to death," the Hawking's 2IC began, "or slit my wrists with a piece of glass which… a few hours ago… I wouldn't have put any bets on me being around for the next shift." He let out a gust of breath before saying what needed to be said. "I'll leave if you want me to, and I'll understand if you do…"

Lowering his eyes, the young Bajoran shook his head and forced another smile. "There's no reason for you to go. I just need… I just needed to allow time for my pagh to catch up with my intellect." In an uncharacteristic shift, Nils looked Harry dead in the eyes. "You didn't ki… It wasn't you. You're integral to the operation of this vessel and you're a good…" With a deep sigh, the CO suddenly became very interested in the deck plating. "Life… It isn't easy."

'Don't pity the dead, Harry; they're past suffering…' Sara's words, from long ago, surfaced in the wake of the young man's admission. "It's hardest for the ones who have to go on," which, Harry figured, was what she'd meant.

After considering the truth in the sentiment, Nils said, "And that is just what we'll do, Lieutenant. We'll go on…" He paused before launching into what he knew would be a difficult admission. "Look… I know that recently I've been less than… involved in ship operations and I wanted to apologize for leaving you to pick up some of the pieces. And thank you… For the same."

"When Sara… died… I climbed into a bottle," Harry admitted calmly. "You skipped a few reports. I think, between the two of us, you're doing…" he stopped himself because 'well' was not a term you applied to someone who's just been emotionally eviscerated, "… you'll stand… sir." And so saying, Finn shoved himself the rest of the way off the bed and straightened before his captain to offer the only thing he could at such a time… his continued service. "Lt. Finn, reporting for duty. If you'll allow it."

Nils grinned at the elder man and, once more in the last hour, thanked the Prophets that he was where he was. "I'll see you on the bridge, Number One," he said as he turned away from the biobed. "No telling what's next on the agenda…"

"Harry?"

Both men looked to the doors to see Jenny rushing into sick bay, accompanied quite closely by…

"Who's the guy in the raccoon coat?" Finn asked.

A moment of Zen with T'Shaini, Javier Costala, Harry Finn & Torrik Nils
Originally Posted 1/03/09 by Torrik Nils


::Within the ‘Nebula’::

“You didn’t need to use that rustic transportation device,” Ramiel pointed out, the primness of her words set off by the musical language; one never before heard in these regions of space, “I could easily have brought you home.”

“Of course you could have, Rami dearest,” Camael responded in the same tongue. Still wearing the guise of the humble old man, he patted the nearest pillar of the ship, who had spoken. “But it was rather fun… I haven’t been a matter stream in… oh, I dare say I’ve lost track of the naeons.” He glanced about again with the strangely limited yet surprisingly expressive eyes and, with a sigh, let loose the quaint trappings of the innocuous Human male. The disguise had been perfect in every detail, his inborn abilities to manipulate mass and energy within certain distances assured that. Even as Ramiel’s own skills had created the small transport which the Hawking had discovered in such distress upon their arrival, and the image of the proto-nebula itself. Now the tweed and the wrinkles shifted and reformed until, in the wizened Human’s place, there stood a bipedal being, quite tall, quite slender and made all up of a multitude of colors which coruscated across his frame in a soothing modulation of hues.

“And what of these peoples?” Ramiel asked, shucking her own nebulous garb and gathering the apparent gasses and particulate matter about her like a silk gown, condensing herself into the simple sphere which was the means by which Camael travelled the stars.

“A very interesting melange of life forms,” he said, in a voice gone fluid and deep but with the same intrinsic joy in discovery that had won over so many of the Hawking’s crew. He took a seat in the curving chair which molded itself from the floor at his thought. Once in place, the collected histories and mythologies, along with the accompanying behaviors displayed by the participants, began to flow from his own consciousness to Rami’s vast storage banks. “For all that so many have suffered so great a series of hurts… physical, emotional, to their very souls, I believe… for the most they found within themselves stories of hope, redemption, even resurrection. A few delved into the past, others revisited tragedies… some averted tragedies that had been previously written. Life was created and young feelings blossomed. I witnessed steadfast honor, discovery of self and of purpose and an endless, endless striving,” he shook his head over that last, most fascinating, “Wile E. Coyote,” he murmured, “Super Genius… I wonder if he ever does catch that clever little road runner?”

“All the gathered data has been stored,” Ramiel inserted, efficiently, “and I am fully reconfigured… what is our next destination?”

Camael’s triangulate head tilted as he recalled one of the small one’s… Autumn, her name was… adventures. “Let us make for the second star to the right,” he decided, “and see what tales await us…”

Featuring Camael
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“In my end is my beginning.”
Originally Posted 01/03/08 by Harry Finn


A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows

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