With A Dead Sound

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

Images of the Emissary and Kai Opaka swirled in a confusing array of clouds and light. Their words mingled and overlapped.

“You will find your destiny through the Celestial Temple… Be both… The Prophets will walk with you…always…”

With a sudden sharp breath, Torrik Nils' eyes shot open. He was lying in sickbay, comfortably nestled on a biobed. It was relatively quiet and he couldn’t see anything beyond a privacy curtain, which encircled his area.

Slowly and with a considerable amount of effort the Bajoran sat up, and dangled his legs off the side of the bed. Strange feelings pulsed through his legs, but were overshadowed by the strange thoughts swirling in his head. He felt as if he were walking under water.

“Lieutenant,” called a voice as Nils emerged from his privacy curtain. He regarded the face curiously unable to place a name with it. “Lieutenant, you're naked…” The young woman seemed only slightly embarrassed by her statement.

Nils looked down at himself. Her assessment was entirely correct. “Yes I am,” he said in apathetic agreement. Without a thought he reached back to his biobed and drew out the thin shiny sheet that had been draped over him in unconsciousness. Wrapping it around his shoulders he continued out of sickbay and into the corridor. There was somewhere else he needed to be…

Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 02-14-2008

USS Hawking
Dedicated Lab 1138 - Deck 6

Gorsky blinked a few times, then looked away from the screen, "That's… weird," he said, then brought his attention back to the undulating patterns he'd been staring at for what seemed like hours. Checking the time stamp at the top of the screen he realized it was because he had been looking at it for hours. The night shift was almost over and if they'd been planetside, the sun would be threatening to crest the horizon.

"What's weird," Dana said softly, nuzzling his shoulder with her cheek. She looked down at the console she'd been mostly ignoring. It took her a moment to piece together exactly what she was looking at. Her attention had been…elsewhere.

"Ummm, well, either my eyes are going.. which could totally be the case, or this wavelength periodically loses its…length. Look here," he said pointing at the screen. "It carries on like normal…wave…valley…wave…valley… la la la… Then wham! We have a series of waves coming in like a tsunami. The crests all touch… I can't understand why it's making this knitting effect…"

Dana picked her head up off his shoulder and leaned closer to the screen. "Well, it's not exactly like a tsunami. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Tsunamis have massive wavelengths… But I see what you mean. We're losing any distinguishing characteristics between each wave. The peaks are becoming a line… What's that mean? And what exactly are we looking at?"

"Something's warping the sensors… around…" he straightened, staring into space while his left hand found hers, "around something… or…"

"Or around somebody…" Dana's eyes sparkled a moment. "We should show this to Linc… He's been…" The sudden realization of the triangle she found herself tangled in and among halted her thoughts. "Or maybe not… But Lincoln did say he and Nils had found some sort of multidimensional signal bouncing around the ship, right? It's got to be related…"

"Which I still want to see the background on," Alex was feeling that kind of 'pre-breakthrough' energy… it was possible that, if they dug out Finn's spook, they could get their hands on the kind of tech that could revolutionize… well… he glanced back at the screen, pretty much the way sentient's looked at the universe. "Let me just copy this to Lieutenant Torrik and Harry and.." he looked back at Dana, "Would Lincoln read anything coming from my desk or will he just dump it in the garbage?" They'd had a chance to talk, a bit, about her history with the intimidating scientist.

Dana chewed her bottom lip for a moment. "He's a good man, Alex. And he's not too angry to ignore a potential threat… But let me send it to him, just in case," she added, giving in to doubt. "At least then we'll know he'll look at it for sure." She quickly added her prefix to the data. "You're a good man too," she added cutting her eyes at the young man. She tossed him a flirtatious smile, then leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips.

Ooooh boy, Alex wrapped his arms around the warmth that was Dana Grissom and forgot all about virtual waves and valleys and focused on the tsunami within as he felt his own individual characteristics melding with hers. Time ceased, temperatures rose and hands began to wander in an exploration that was far from scientific in nature.

Even when the door to the lab whooshed open, it took a moment for the ardent couple to return to real-time.

"I beg your pardon," the quietly amused voice of Lieutenant Hawthorn did nothing to cool either participant's cheeks. She glanced at McMennan, who seemed to be suffering from an overwhelming urge to cough, "We did not mean to disturb… anything…" she continued, stepping further into the room and giving it a cursory inspection, as she eyed her tricorder, "it is merely the Chief's wish that your workspace be checked at least once every shift."

"Right," Alex ran an embarrassed hand through his hair, unsure where to look, "that's great.. tell him, ah, tell him.. actually, can you not tell him anything… about… this?"

Aengus McMennan grinned openly at that, "No problem, dude," he gave Alex possibly the world's least subtle thumbs up, "Besides, not like the Chief and Dr. Schaeffer never…" at a very pointed throat-clearing from Hawthorn, the young man clammed up.

"The room is clean," Hawthorn announced, breezing out and collecting the junior officer, "Please feel free to continue your… research." And with that the two were gone.

"Doesn't anyone ever knock on board a starship?" Dana straightened her uniform nervously then chuckled. Despite the embarrassment, she found the whole thing rather amusing. "Would it be too cliché to say now where were we?" She shook her head and went back to the screen. "I guess the moment's passed."

"I think I now know what it means to want to hurt someone," Gorsky stood very still, staring at the door. He wasn't really serious and he knew that the half-Klingon could wipe the deck with him but, damn…

"I suppose now the crew will be talking," she said lowering her head. "And on a ship this size soon everyone will know there is something going on…" Slowly, Dana edged closer to Alex. She lifted her eyes to him cautiously before asking, "There is something going on, right?"

"If you want there to be… I mean, I.. I want there to be but, you know, if you don't and then there isn't and then…" he stopped, before he could choke himself with his own tongue, "There's something going on," he admitted, his voice dropping and his eyes darkening. "A lot… there's a lot going on…"

Dana beamed at the awkward man fumbling his words in front of her. "You have no idea how charming you are," she admitted and wrapped her arms around his neck. Pressing herself against him hard she kissed his lips - softly at first, but with growing enthusiasm. After a few minutes wrapped up in his arms she suddenly stopped and glanced over his shoulder to the door. "Ummm… What do you think about going…somewhere?"

"I think 'yes'," was the breathless response, "somewhere is good. I like somewhere," then, just to make sure they were sharing the same thought, "somewhere where.. exactly?"

Dana tugged on the chest of his uniform and moved them awkwardly towards the door. "I'd rather not get…caught…again. And you've yet to show me your quarters… So…" She trailed off letting Alex connect the dots.

Hot damn! "So… then… we should… I should… do that. I mean, I will. In fact, they're very close, my quarters…" he gestured in a ludicrously grand fashion towards the door, "Your turbolift awaits, milady," what an asinine thing to say! but Dana didn't seem to mind, she merely offered that smile gods that smile and let him escort her from the lab. As they continued down the corridor, he felt compelled to add, "You might not want to look too closely at the floor… or the bathroom.. and there's this coffee stain from a few months back… did I mention there might be some clothes laying around…?"

"Shut up," she said breathlessly then pressed her lips over his.

"Shutting up," he managed as they once again careened into each other, all but falling into the turbolift as the doors opened to a, thankfully, empty space.

Turbolift - Ten minutes later…

"Please state your destination."

JP by NPCs Gorsky and Grissom - Puppeteers Finn and Torrik

Originally Posted By Torrik Nils 02-14-2008

"Predawn" on board a Starship is quiet. This predawn was no different. Nils walked casually through the corridors wrapped only in a sheet. In truth, he was not managing the thin material very well and it hung off his shoulder at odd angles. On his right side, it dragged the floor… On his left, his butt cheek threatened to emerge. Thankfully, the halls of Hawking were empty.

Had the Bajoran been in his normal state of mind, he very well may have verged on mortification. His injuries in conjunction with his Pagh'tem'far, however, still had him reeling. He felt as if he were suffering from severe tunnel vision. When he reached his destination he palmed the door panel to the suite and waited for a response. Technically the suite was still his dwelling, but somehow it just didn't feel like home.

Moving as quietly as possible, T'Shaini slipped into the main room, she much preferred to wake early and either practice in a holodeck or meditate in her office to prepare for her day, and even though she had left the unsleeping Javier sitting at the table in their room, she kept to her accustomed silence . The unexpected sound of the chime had her half sprinting to the entrance. Only an emergency would be here at this hour. The door slid open to reveal a vision of Nils wrapped in a shroud. Taking a step back, she shook off the morning fog and realized it was Nils, and he was wrapped in a sheet. "I am much relieved to see you on your feet…does Jillian know you have left sickbay?" She asked as she ushered him into the room.

"What?" He sensed more than felt the Vulcan drawing him further into the suite. "No… Jillian…" A brief moment of contemplation drew his attention far from the here and now. "I haven't spoken to her yet. I needed to speak to you." In a heady daze, he settled onto one of the sofas and released his grip of the sheet. It settled easily around his middle preserving his modesty. "You are a counselor…" A distant smile followed his statement of the obvious. "I mean, I need… some counsel…"

"I am very glad that you came." T'Shaini said smoothly as she moved over to the computer to send a quick message to Dr. Munro to forestall any panic at his disappearance. Moving back she seated herself across from Nils interested in how his near death…no, actual death experience had transformed his perceptions, as from his manner she would assume it had. Folding her hands in her lap she watched him, so close, yet so very far away. "What did you need to speak to me about?"

"Why do you counsel?" His question came quickly. With eyes boring into T'shaini, he leaned in seeming almost desperate for her answer.

Her head tipped to the side as she contemplated the nature of the question and why it was asked. "For a myriad of reasons…a quest to understand the emotional pathways and their physiological effect, to explore the range of sentient species interaction, but first and foremost because I believe clarity and self knowledge is essential to peace and if I can assist in any way I want…no I need to do that."

Nils nodded and dropped his gaze to the floor. More thinking. More silence. "Peace escapes me…" The young man drew in and released a characteristic sigh. "I am assuming our conversation will be…private. But…" He paused collecting both his thoughts and some courage. The haze of unconsciousness was lifting and with it, his strength of will. Doubts about this conversation struggled to surface. "But I've spent the majority of my life walking alone. This was my choice, although I preferred to blame others. Only since I've been here in the Gamma Quadrant," through the Celestial Temple, "has that fact begun… shifting."

Again Nils lifted his gaze and regarded the ship's counselor with a sense of both awe and respect. "I envy your own clarity. I don't know why I do what I do…not anymore. Science was my escape… It gave me strict definitions for the universe around me. But it seems to have failed me in many regards. And now I have to…" be both. "I have to change something and I don't know why I'm doing what I'm doing… Or even, what to do next…"

"We often define ourselves by what we do rather than who we are, it is a much simpler process. But that does not mean that it cannot be a part of the equation. Hopefully you will not deride yourself from your definitions according to science, but instead seek to expand it. What is it you feel you wish to change?"

The struggling Bajoran put his head in his hands and stroked his stubbley hair with both palms. Divulging details about what he ate for breakfast was hard enough, but sharing the depths of his turbulent faith with someone he barely knew made him feel crazy. "I have a feeling… Or a sensation… While I was unconscious…" The words wouldn't come. He decided to back up. His eyes shot up and his question sprang forth. "Counselor, what happened to me?"

"You were unconscious when I found you, I was told that there was…"

"Wait," Nils said his hand reaching out in front of him as if he were seizing her last words. "You found me?"

"Yes, when I returned there was music playing and a familiar Eliot quote scrolling across the screens, so clearly something was amiss, the computer located you when asked." T'Shaini lifted one shoulder in a slight shrug. "I was told there was tampering with the sonic shower to debilitate your brain function. Everyone surmises it was an attack by Harry's sleeper." She glanced back toward his room as a flash of what she had seen crossed her mind. "We lost you." Her gaze focused back on Nils. "But Jillian is nothing if not tenacious. She revived you."

Jillian… Too many thoughts trampled through Nils mind as T'Shaini spoke. He was bombarded by information the he found utterly shocking. She did however confirm one thing for him. He had been dead. Clinically so, at least.

"I owe you thanks…and an apology," the Bajoran said somberly.

A slight frown creased her forehead. "An apology?"

"I've been less than friendly towards you since I arrived on the ship. My own bias and…" Nils swallowed hard as he exposed himself emotionally. "My fear holds me back… You are…a… I think you are a good person. And I'm sorry that I treated you poorly."

"Thank you." She could have told him there was no need to apologize, but she could see how difficult it was for him. She pulled her legs beneath her in a more relaxed posture and nodded. "Fear does many things, and we have all done things or behaved in a manner of which we are not proud. That is the beauty of being aware, we can change."

"Which brings me back to the problem… Do you believe in destiny?" The young man's eyes were pleading. There was no hint of jest anywhere in his tone or demeanor. He froze awaiting her response.

T'Shaini chose her words carefully. "Yes and no…I do believe that there are paths we are meant to take, I also believe that we can choose not to take them. Whether those decisions are wise or not depend on the individual and their journey."

"What if… What do you think would happen if I missed my path?" The seriousness and intensity of the Bajoran's tone was shocking.

Sensing the driving force of the visit ring in that seemingly simple question T'Shaini unfolded her legs and leaned forward to answer. "I do not believe there is judgment or censure for taking another path, it may not be the correct time or place for that road, or perhaps we are not ready for it at the particular moment. If the path is meant for you, it will be there when you are prepared to take it.

=/\= Munro to T'Shaini =/\= Jillian's voice sliced into the conversation. She sounded strained and harried.

=^=T'Shaini here=^=

=/\= Can you please have Lt. Torrik return to sickbay immediately. I did not give him permission to leave.=/\= In addition to the strain, a hint of hurt colored her tone.

Nils nodded to the counselor indicating he would comply. He pulled his sheet around him and stood up.

=^=He is on his way=^=

T'Shaini rose to her feet. "I would be pleased if you would consent to continue this conversation at a future date."

After considering the ramifications of what the counselor was suggesting the Science Officer nodded. So far everything she'd said resounded somewhere deep within. If he was going to unravel his Pagh'Tem'far, further conversation would be beneficial. If not absolutely vital. Nils nodded in agreement. "I appreciate the offer." Without further fanfare, Nils gathered himself up in the sheet and exited the suite.

T'Shaini stood and stared at the closed door for a moment before resuming her morning ritual. As she did a hint of a smile turned the corners of her mouth.

Currently, a giant icicle is growing somewhere very, very warm…

JP The Counselor and the Naked Guy

Originally Posted By T'Shaini 02-15-2008

USS Hawking
Finn Quarters - Deck 9

“A canary in a coal mine…”

Jack Finn had long ago brought Will and Harry (Anna was too young) to Centralia, Pennsylvania where, in 1962, a fire had erupted in the depths of a the local mine. The fire, with an unending source of fuel, had lasted for over fifty years. A town had once stood on the spot but the inhabitants had been forced to desert their homes as the ground beneath their feet heated and the air became toxic and the surface unstable. Centuries later, the land had yet to be reoccupied. Harry, age 7, had understood why: the place seemed haunted… angry that it had been ripped into and stolen from. It didn’t feel as if had quite gotten around to forgiving humanity, just yet.

“The land remembers,” Jack had told his sons, whom he was raising to work to the Earth’s benefit, rather than tear into it as had the peoples of the 20th century.

But the canary was what really stuck with young Harry Finn. The mining which had been an issue for the environment as a whole had seemed a particularly bad deal for the birds.

“They were the miner’s insurance policy,” his father had explained, herding Harry and the carefully unimpressed Will back to their transport. “The worker's put them in cages and carried them underground and… well, their metabolisms’ were sensitive enough to detect methane and carbon dioxide… if the bird died, the miner’s knew there was danger of explosion or asphyxiation… or both.”

Now, decades after that trip… after Jack’s death… Harry had good cause to remember the canaries in the coal mines.

For months he’d been caged on the Hawking, wandering the Gamma Quadrant while Nechayev’s people, whomever and wherever they were, waited for him to, in essence, suffocate and lead them by way of the crime to the criminal they so desperately wanted.

Oh, he wasn’t supposed to have known that but really, how much of a Gorsky did a guy have to be to see that writing on the wall? If they’d really meant for Harry to go after the mole, they’d have stationed him on the Outpost, where it was strongly suspected that Acker had set up shop.

And still, still Shaun Acker was here, on the Hawking, as invisible as firedamp and ten times as deadly. If T’Shaini hadn’t found Torrik, he’d have been gone… permanently and not for just the few minutes they said he’d flatlined.

Harry stared at his desktop another moment before hitting ‘send’. He didn’t quite know why he was sending the coded message to Terence Wolfe. Not like Hawking wouldn’t be on the DoJ agent’s doorstep in a few days… no more than four, according to the helm.

Maybe he was just covering all the bases because, like those doomed canaries, he sensed something combustible in the air.

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-15-2008

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Sickbay ::

Shuffling back into sickbay, Nils clung tightly to the thin sheet wrapped around his naked form. His unauthorized departure from sickbay had in no way been meant as a snub to Jillian. But her voice over the comm channel indicated she'd been at least somewhat upset over it. He froze in place as soon as he crossed the doorstop. Her visage held him fast and a wave of guilt crashed into him.

She was silent. There were no words to express what she was feeling. She remembered the way he looked only hours ago, helpless and weak, a man she barely recognized. She wanted nothing more than for the fragile structures of their love to remain secure, for things to continue just as they were. For the universe not to alter, for this delicate balance between them to endure. But something had…changed. Leaning against a biobed, she reached back to support herself and strained to hold back the tears.

"Hi," Nils said, unsure of exactly what else to say. They said nothing. Neither moved. An oddness to the atmosphere seemed imminent oppressive. And the Bajoran was still relatively confused. After examining one another for what seemed way too long, Nils finally spoke. "Was I really dead?"

She sighed. Of course he wasn't thinking of them. He had died. How selfish of me, she thought, "Yes…" She studied his reaction with wide eyes, then turned her head and looked down towards the floor, "…for about fives minutes actually."

"That couldn't have been easy for you," the Bajoran commented, his voice quiet. He started moving forward again, dragging his sheet behind him. "Are you okay?"

"It's okay. I'm okay," she said, refusing to encourage his attempt at comfort. She didn't want a hug. She wanted an explanation for his quick retreat. Away from sickbay. Away from her.

"I… I know you didn't technically discharge me from care," Nils continued. "But when I woke up… Something happened while I was…" Everything still seemed foggy. Focus was difficult. "I needed to speak with someone when I came to. It was all I was thinking about. All I could think about." He stopped moving inches from her. His sheet hung open and barely covered him. Somehow it didn't seem to matter. "Have I upset you?"

Her eyes hurt from holding back tears, but she was glad for the sharp pain; a distracting from the pain she felt in the pit of her stomach, "You didn't want to talk to me?" She reminded herself of a small child who was sad that she wasn't getting enough attention.

Her hurt feelings suddenly made sense to the dense male. He cast his gaze to the side considering how to proceed. "Well, technically I didn't know that I'd died when I woke up… And I can't even remember the attack." He carefully weighed what he was about to say before continuing. An aching feeling that everything was about to change threatened to keep him quiet. Applying his full will, he over came it. "I needed someone… less involved… to hear what I had to say. Or to ask what I had to ask. And quite honestly there is more that I'm struggling with… But I can't talk to you about it." As the words flew he wanted them back. He knew they would wound. "My feelings for you…" The sentence stung his insides. "My feelings for you limit what I can discuss with you…" He pressed closer to her. "But don't underestimate my feelings for you." His uncharacteristic expression surprised him. This moment alone suddenly alerted him to the fact that he had been changed. His experience during death had altered him somehow.

She looked up into his eyes. He was looking back at her, but he wasn't in the moment. He was distant. She needed a sign that everything would be alright, that this void, this emptiness inside her would soon be gone. But there was nothing to grasp, it was obvious to her that he had changed, and that nothing would ever be the same. It suprised her how easily she surrendered to such a thought, but it came as effortlessly to her as diasgnosing someone with a common cold.

It was that same feeling she had when Nils lay dead infront of her: a solution, an illogical, highly unlikely solution that had to be given a chance.

Something inside her told her that this change was a good thing, this was what Torrik Nils had been waiting for his whole life, and she couldn't let him feel guilty for it. It was also a change that wouldn't include her. This struggle that he spoke of, this wasn't an insolated problem that he could neatly exclude Jillian from, this was the beginning of his new life. The old one had died, and her along with it.

She looked down again and let gravity pull the tears from her eyes, "You're a good man," she whispered, longing to bridge the distance between them, the distance she had made when she revived him.

"Good man", he repeated slowly, as if testing the authenticity of her statement.

She reached out and pulled the sheet up and over his shoulders, closing it in towards the center of his chest. She sniffed and wiped her tears with the back of her sleeve. She was thinking, I love you. I love you so much, and this is goodbye. She held her hands on his chest where she griped the sheet, and then her lips, cold as ice, were on his. The distance between them, nanometers only, the space of a kiss, began to open and deepen, becoming a canyon at which she stood on the edge. She pulled away suddenly and stepped back. She wasn't sure if anything else needed to be said; even if he thought everything was OK, he would most likely be too preoccupied to notice the distance growing between them. Maybe it's better that way, she thought to herself.

"You seem fine. You are excused from sickbay," was all she could think to say.

Posted by Nils & Jils

Originally Posted By Jillian Munro 02-15-2008

He stared at the small picture of Lia. It was one of three pictures that he had of her. It had been taken when she was a baby. His thoughts went back to the first time he had held her, a small bundle of sleeping warmth. The nurse had told him he was the father and Javier had stared at the woman in panic, even though he had always known Lia was his. Cat had lied to him too many times for Javier not to know she was not telling the truth when she said her baby had been fathered by another man. As he had held her, Lia awoke and stared into her father's eyes…she yawned, a big yawn, then blinked and studied his face.

"Hello baby," Javier had said softly. Then Lia had scrunched up her face, yawned and gone back to sleep. "I guess she trusts you," the nurse said then gave him a warm smile. "Her mother left earlier," the nurse said, frowning suddenly, "she said you would come for the baby once it was safe to take her home." Javier radiated a smile down at the baby, his baby, his and Caterina's.."Wait, what did you say?"

"Her mother checked out this morning against the doctor's wishes," the nurse replied as she read from a file on her PADD. "Encarnacion, Caterina, yes, she left this morning, not the best thing to do the day after giving birth but she insisted. She said she could recover fully at home. You had better get back and see to her."

"We don't have a home." Javier looked at the nurse in confusion then stared down at the sleeping baby. "She just left? Perhaps she meant her appartment..I guess I should..I'll take her home now," he had said, looking down at Lia.

Javier had taken Lia to the Costala family home. His mother and father had looked after Lia while he had searched for Caterina. But she had left him and finally Javier grew to accept this.

It took you too long though. the engineer surmised as he studied the picture. Too long to learn a lesson that I should have known from the first hint of her betrayal. And the time inbetween was wasted..all that time in the Corps was a waste. And time here, on the Hawking.. The door of their room opened and he heard T'Shaini enter. She had left earlier and from the lounge he had heard the low tones of voices in conversation. Javier had wrapped himself up in the chains of his thoughts and now she was back, as if it were an interlude to his question about time spent on the ship when he should have been home.

"I feel as if I wasted too much time," he said, leaving the statement hanging in the air.

It had been hours since the conversation with Nils and yet when she returned, it looked to T'Shaini as if Javier had not moved. Intending to leave him with his thoughts until he was ready to share them, she was slightly startled by his voice. "That would have been better spent with Lia?" She asked.

"Yes." He looked down at the picture. "And there was time wasted thinking about Caterina..wondering if she would come back. Or where she was."

T'Shaini crossed the room to kneel next to Javier. "As much as we would like to, we cannot dictate how long it takes us to process emotion. Your time spent over Caterina was what you needed to move on."

"I joined the Corps because I couldn't see myself having Lia and not having Cat. I still don't know why she left but the reason is no longer as important as it used to be," Javier explained slowly, turning his head to look at T'Shaini. "All that time I spent thinking about Cat and why she left..I should have been with Lia. And now when I don't care about Cat or her reasons.." His voice trailed off, as Javier took the small picture and stuffed it into his uniform jacket.

Her voice low and gentle T'Shaini asked. "Do you think it would have been better for Lia if you had stayed home, dissatisfied as you were?"

"I don't know," Javier said softly, "I would have been unhappy. I don't know. There are alot of things I wish I would have done differently but then our paths would never have crossed. But we wouldn't have known about the other or what it was like to miss someone…" The engineer sighed and placed his head on his hand, letting his elbow rest on the table. "It took too long to get over Cat..I gave up time with my daughter worrying about someone who only cared about herself," he realized, verbalizing his thoughts.

T'Shaini nodded thoughtfully. "You also ensured that she was well taken care of, perhaps even better than you could have done on your own in that emotional state. Do not discount how much you have done."

"I should have brought Lia here. She would have been safe here with me, and you, to look after her." There was a whine from beneath the table and Javier reached down to pat Scotty on the head with his left hand. "And you too boy." Petting the terrier seemed to make Javier feel somewhat better so he stopped and returned his hand to his lap. I don't deserve to feel better. "I suppose I should go to work..my shift starts soon," Javier said as he stared at his bandaged right hand, the two fingers sticking out as if he were pointing a gun.

"Who were you talking to earlier?"

T'Shaini acquiesced to the change of subject, it will do no good to press him if he is not ready. "Lt. Torrik, he awoke with questions and stopped by to see me."

"He's recovered then, that's good," Javier stated, then looked around the room one last time before standing to his feet. "I should go now."

Still kneeling on the floor, T'Shaini reached out and clasped his hand. "Javier, may I ask you to be careful? With everything happening on the Hawking I am certain engineering will not be exempt from sabotage." She searched his face waiting for his response, how he answered this question would tell her a great deal…perhaps more than she wanted to know.

Javier frowned, "We're not exempt from sabotage..it's already happening, there's something buried deep within the systems. Ajani and I have seen glimpses of its signature but then it slips away..almost as if someone can see what we're doing.." He sat back down next to her then said, "I think it's an engineer. I think it's.." He stopped suddenly. What are you doing? You're putting T'Shaini at risk. If she can bypass security measures then she could be watching the vidlogs. "..close to revealing itself, the intrusive code that is. Ajani and I have pinpointed it."

Ah, good…thinking in future terms. "Congratulations, I confess most of your work is completely over my head."

"It's only warp core mechanics," Javier answered, forcing himself to smile. He dropped his head down next to hers, kissing her cheek. "Be careful," he whispered as he pulled back and stood to his feet. "I'll walk you to your office..it's on my way down."

Reaching out her hand for aid in standing, T'Shaini rose and linked her arm in his, thankful that he was at least making an attempt to move forward through his grief. "Shall we?" One step at a time.

JP by T&J

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-15-2008

USS Hawking

They sat in their quarters, allowing the facade of the past eight hours to slide away before malignant eyes opened to look in the mirror.

“The fail-safes must be in place… it is only a matter of time…”

“He won’t find us.”

“Shaun thought that, once. He was wrong.”

“We are more than Shaun was.”

“And Finn is more than Shaun believed.”

Eyes darkened, a suspicious gleam tripped across the glass, “You admire him.”

“Being my enemy does not make him unworthy of respect.”

“He’s no more than the Federation’s dog…”

……“You are jealous of him.”

“I despise him and before we reach Jericho-Samaria, he’ll know the taste of my hatred…”

“It tastes like ashes…”


A pause as they considered one another.

“But the fail-safes? On the off-chance…”

“Almost complete… on the off-chance.”

JP In the Mouth of Madness

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-16-2008

USS Hawking
Saunders/Anderson Quarters - Deck 4

Twisting her hair into its standard knot, Jenny walked out of the shared bath and almost squeaked. Darby, just off her second shift, had returned to the room, looking way the worse for wear. “Jeez, Darbs,” she stuck the clip into the knot and walked over to where her bunkmate slumped on her bed, “what happened?”

“Finn happened,” Saunders complained, “what is with that god-father of yours, anyway?” Jen winced a bit at the implied connection but, hell, no secrets on a starship, and certainly not from one’s roommate.

Meanwhile, Darby gave in to exhaustion and finished her collapse, not caring if she fell out fully dressed, “He’s, like, obsessing over this spook, which, okay, I get, but does he have to keep us walking patrols for eight straight… after a measly four hour break after spending six hours staring at uber-boring sensor records?”

“It probably doesn’t help to know he’s doing the same thing without the breaks…” Jen, about to go on her own second shift offered, while giving the suffering young woman a sympathetic pat on the arm.

“Nope… not a bit.” Darby’s eyes started to drift, “Can’t you, like, do something to calm him down?”

That brought out the first laugh Jen had enjoyed since her movie night with Nate and Three, “Wow, only in my deepest fantasies,” she shook her head, “The day someone discovers how to ‘calm’ Harry down, that’ll be the day ice cubes freeze in hell.”

Saunders didn’t respond and, looking down, Jenny realized it was because the ensign had fallen asleep. With a small smile, she dragged a blanket over her roomie before heading out.

Time to walk the halls and look for whatever breadcrumbs Harry's ghost may have dropped.

NPC JP featuring Ensign Darby Saunders and Crewman Jenny Anderson

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-17-2008

Main Engineering
Deck 11

"There is a short delay then the code fragments and hides itself among the other sequences. It waits, letting time elapse, then reappears and glides through the systems like a snake.."

Tehamia shivered.

Ajani paused in his explanation. "You don't like snakes?"

The Kriosian shook her head slightly as she looked at the ensign. "They are unpleasant and oily looking," she answered quickly, "greasy, slithering..ugh."

The African engineer allowed a whisper of a smile to form on his features then nodded in agreement. "They can be very unpleasant. Do you have very many on your homeworld?"

"No, but I have seen them in San Franciso. There were some in a contained area that tried to bite the people that would observe them. They told us how quickly a person could..ugh," Tehamia closed her eyes and shook her head, as if clearing an unpleasant memory from her mind.

"But now you have an idea of what this code sequence is and what it is capable of doing if we don't find it and destroy it," Ajani replied, he lowered his voice out of the need for secrecy and to comfort the Kriosian engineer while retaining an air of importance. "It moves through the systems effortlessly, even command code barriers do not impede its movement."

Sensing the comfort in his voice and the concern for her well-being, Tehamia inched closer to Ajani while still maintaining the respectful distance of personal space between the two of them. "How long does it take the code to realize you are tracking it?" Her eyes going from the console to the engineer's face.

"Seconds, the Chief discovered it by accident the first time. The program had attached itself to a minor system but one that was undergoing routine maintenence. He found it then it disappeared. It fragmented…" The smell of Tehamia's perfume grew stronger. It was a light, pleasant fragrance and Ajani found himself breathing deeply. "..then it reappears in some other system."

"Shouldn't you be discussing this with Petty Officer Oakley? She's the computer specialist." Tehamia could have kicked herself.

"The code flits back and forth between both the warpcore and computer systems," Ajani replied, "only breaking apart when we can see it for a period of time. I don't even know why it chooses the particular systems it attaches itself to..like I said it moves like a…"

"..ghost," Tehamia said quickly, heading off the snake alliteration at the pass, "a ghost in the machine." She sighed and inched closer to the African engineer using the confidence he exuded to try and stave off the thoughts of panic she felt rising from within.

Featuring:Ensign Tehamia, Warpcore Specialist and Ensign Ajani Obatu, Engineering Officer

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-17-2008

"One, two, three…seven? How many medkits do they need?" Tatiana complained as she threw the final kit on top of the rest. She scooped her hands beneath the pile and brought it to her chest, hoping that someway she'd get to her destination without dropping one or all. She didn't know who requested the kits, but when she was told that it was for a project, her curiosity got the best of her and she volunteered if only to see what was going on. "Never again," she groused as she took her first steps, her neck aching from the lean to the side she was doing in order to see around the stack.

::Shuttle Bay::

Vince was inside the the powerdrive compartment of the Wraith, tinkering away, splicing wires together, and throwing out parts that were no longer of any use as far as he could tell. Scott had made his way back down to the integrated computer, checking specs, and trying to dodge the stray parts that were raining down from above him. He stepped back, and stretched, not realizing that someone had walked up behind him. As he leaned back, he bumped into the person, knocking what they had out of their hands, and nearly knocking them down.

"Oh, sorry 'bout that I didn't know you were there," Scott leaned down and picked up the med kits from the ground, "You must be the person from medical that we requested, I'm Scott, and the guy up in the Wraith is Vince."

Tatiana frowned at the man and crouched to pick up the items she dropped. "Here's your seven medkits, although I think you're overdoing it just a bit," she announced her confusion still present over the number and that caused her to miss the introduction the guy made, "And if that's all, I have to get back to Sickbay."

Scott took the medkits, and set them to the side, "Ok, well I'm sorr…" Scott was interrupted by another part crashing to the ground, just inches from him, and the medical officer, "Ok, now I'm sorry for that. Hey! Moron! Why don't you watch where you throw that stuff, you almost hit someone other than me!"

"Well hopefully that someone was Nathan, and then again I missed so that sucks," Vince popped his head up from the compartment he was in, "Oh, Tatiana, oops…"

"Yes, oops seems to be about right," she responded dryly and moved out of the path that seemed to be the line of fire. She looked around, "What are you doing in here?"

Vince looked down at Tatiana and smiled, "Well, this here is my little project. It's an ancient Xel'Naga fighter, and Scott and I are goin' to get this thing runnin' again."

"Yea, we plan on getting this thing running here pretty quick. Vince may have a little too much fun in this thing to tell the truth though." Scott looked over at Tatiana, smiled, then turned back to the computer.

"Right," she said, "You men and your toys. I think I'll just leave you to your work."

"Oh, you don't have to go…" Scott said in a sarcastic tone.

Vince jumped out of the compartment he was in, "Hey it'll be nice to have someone else here, especially a woman. I'm gettin' pretty tired of lookin' at Scott's ugly mug anyway."

"I'm sure you could find another woman willing to spend time in this lovely place, so I'm still going to take my exit," Tatiana said with a light voice and turned to leave, "And please, if you ever decide to fix up another "Xel'Naga fighter" or something else similar to it, don't ask for seven medkits. Four I could understand, five is pushing it, but seven is a tad much."

Vince stepped forward, sure of his footing, "Hey you never know when you'll need one while workin on an old fighter, anyt…" Before Vince could finish he stepped on a greasy rag, and slipped. He landed with a thud on the deck, flat on his back, and let out a soft moan.

"HA HA HA!" Scott couldn't help but laugh as he looked at his now winded best friend.

"Why have you forsaken me?" Tatiana asked while she looked up at the ceiling. She turned around and looked down at Vince. "I guess now I have reason to hang around. Lucky me," she said with false enthusiasm and motioned for Scott to pass her the top kit. She followed through with using the tricorder to scan Vince. "Oh, no concussion, just the headache from Hell. I'm contemplating not giving you a painkiller as a lesson to you to clean up your mess so things like this can be avoided, but I'm not evil. Lean forward." When he did, she gave him the Hydrocortilene for the pain and stood up.

Vince looked over at her and smiled, "See… We already used one."

"Yea, from the look of things, we may use about three more by the end of the day, so seven was a good number." Scott was still laughing a little, but straightened up after a moment, "Vince this computer is doing something weird, and it started just before you exited the compartment."

Vince looked up at Scott, "I'm glad you could stop laughing long enough to tell me that." Vince stood up and walked over to the computer, staring at the screen.

"Yeah…so…my work here is done, I'm leaving. When one of you break your neck, or an arm, or perhaps even a leg contact me then. Bye boys," she announced again, hoping that her mission to leave would be successful.

Vince spun around, "Hey, you may want to stick around. Something that hasn't happened, or at least been recorded, in over 300 years is about to happen."

"Yeah, and honestly I probably will have no interest in it. Why can't I-," Tatiana's sentence was cut off mid-whine when she felt vibrations under her feet, "What is going on?"

Vince's face was overcome with joy as the back of the Wraith started to glow blue, and the flame from the power drive lit up. The engine calmed to a steady idle, and the flame recessed to a steady burn, "My baby is burnin'… Ha, Ha… I can't believe it, it's working!" Vince looked at Tatiana, and grabbed her in a hug, his excitement level higher than she'd seen in the short time she had known him, then looked at Scott, "Scott, this is just, just…"

"Awesome, I know." Scott just stared at the Wraith, a smile on his face as well.

She stood frozen after Vince hugged her and gave a confused smile, "Congratulations."

"Well, you were part of this historical event, and I think you should be in on the celebration." Vince looked back at Tatiana, "You, me, and Scott, and anyone else that wants in on it. I don't really know what I'm saying right now, I'm too excited."

Scott tapped Vince on his shoulder, getting his attention, "Hey, you gotta count me out due to my having to be on the bridge in twenty minutes for my shift."

"Well, huh," Vince turned slowly back towards Tatiana," You gotta celebrate with me, I need to do somthing cause of this. This is a big deal to me, and with Scott rollin' out, you're the only person left."

She gave a short laugh and then rolled her eyes, "I think I know where this is going."

Scott shook his head, walking away, "I think I'll be taking my leave now, Later Vince. Don't celebrate to much. Oh, and it was nice to meet ya Tatiana."

Vince tapped a button on the computer, and listened to the Wraith's engine disengage, "Later Scott, don't have too much fun on the bridge."

"Bye Scott," she said with a tiny wave. She watched him leave the Wraith before looking back at Vince, "So was I right in my assumption of where your celebration statement was going?"

"Well…That wasn't the first thought… yea it was, but you know," Vince stuttered a bit as he responded.

Tatiana laughed, "Very cute this blushing thing you have going on," she commented while she pointed to his face. "I tell you what, feed me and you'll get your celebration."

Vince grinned, "Hey, that sounds good, and with me being in a Senior Officer's quarters, I can prepare the meal."

"I'm sure the Replicator will make me a very hearty dinner per Vince Stryfe's instructions, but I can pretend you made it yourself. So let's go, I'm starving," she said and turned to leave.

Vince grinned, and gave himself a congratulatory shake of his fist, "I'm right behind you, and yea I can give that replicator some hella orders…"

A JP By Tatiana Thorne and Vince Stryfe and the NPC, Scott Marshell.

Originally Posted By Tatiana Thorne 02-17-2008

He'd better pay me for this. It will take more than Towak's nancy-boy little knife to protect him if he doesn't come through before we reach the Outpost. Killian Boyce thought angrily as he read the the message from the PADD. He disconnected the device from the console as soon as he heard the sound of boots on the catwalk. Shoving the PADD into his toolkit just as the new computer specialist came into view, Boyce pasted an artificial smile on his face.

"Hey Sweetheart, come to check up on me?" Killian asked in an oily voice.

"That's Petty Officer Oakley to you," Heather snapped at the man, foregoing the temptation to add 'you stupid Bugger.' to the end of her statement, replacing it with an icy: "Crewman Boyce." The man had been a source of discontent from the beginning of her shift and Heather's patience had just about reached zero. "What the hell are you doing down here? I thought I told you to run diagnostics on the electrical systems.."

"I finished them.." Boyce interjected; his tone borderline insolent as he did not relish a tongue-lashing by someone who was a 'newb' to Engineering.

"..then keep going until you reach deck 9," Heather finished.

"Oh I guess I didn't hear that part," Killian replied in a smarmy tone of voice. He sat in a stationary place on the catwalk making no move to pack up his toolkit.

"Did you hear me just now?" Oakley asked, her accent growing thicker. Killian nodded. "Then move your arse before I put my boot up it Crewman!" Heather ordered, nudging the edge of Boyce's toolkit with the toe of her boot. Muttering under his breath, Killian packed up his gear and set off down the catwalk.

"Wrong way Boyce," Oakley called after him in exasperation, "Deck 9 is above you, take the ladder."

"What a bitch!" The statement came out a little louder than he had meant it to. Walking back towards Oakley, he started to splutter an apology.

"Save it," Oakley said, "this is going on your report."

"In that case I take it back, you are a bitch," Killian yelled at her, "and everyone knows you're a…" He had barely shouted out how he truly felt when a fist crashed into the side of his face, knocking the following accusation out of his mouth along with one of Boyce's teeth. He slammed into the side of the wall then dropped to the floor. Killian blinked up at Oakley, who stood above him, her fists clenched with a look of bitter anger on her face.

"You were saying?" Heather hissed through clenched teeth.

"Lady, you need help," Boyce said as he rubbed the side of his face.

Heather started to reply but another voice spoke before she could, "What is going on here?" Javier asked quietly. The Chief Engineer looked from Boyce to Oakley, waiting for an explanation. Behind him stood two security guards with their weapons leveled, expecting a greater threat.

Post Featuring:
Crewman Killian Boyce, Engineering Apprentice

Petty Officer Heather 'the Clock-cleaner' Oakley, Computer Specialist

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-17-2008

USS Hawking
Brig - Deck 15

“Sorry, Govan,” Crewman Bardon stood from the desk, “There’s no room at the inn,” he nodded towards the cells. Four double-occupancies containing four crewmembers each. “Another fight at Xander’s and a dust up in stores.”

Zal Govan tilted his head, looking at the cells and then at the cuffed and still angry Ray Larkin, who had not only decided that S’Elk was the sleeper, but that he was trying to steal Tracy Trasker from under Larkin’s nose. Trasker swore that there was nothing between herself and S’Elk, nor, for that matter, between herself and Larkin and that S’Elk had been following orders when he’d been digging through the innards of the recently vacated Vespucci but S’Elk was in sickbay, being treated for concussion and multiple contusions and Larkin was under arrest for assault.

Bardon shrugged, “We could set up extras in the cargo bay…”

“And where would we find the crew to watch over the extra cells?” And he’d thought working for the Federation would be less complicated than remaining on Cardassia. Zal eyeballed the sorry assemblage already in the brig, “Are any of these safe to release on their own recognizance?”

“Ahhh,” Bardon’s blue brow wrinkled, this was not a question generally asked of his lowly status, “We’d have to check with the boss, or Lieutenant Hawthorn.”

PO1 Govan merely remained where he was, Larkin firmly in hand.

“So, I’ll just call LT, then,” the Bolian said.

Govan’s mouth quirked, “Good plan,” he said.

What neither officer said, though they were both thinking it, was that if they didn’t uncover the real saboteur soon, there would be no containing the emotional detonations which were, every hour, increasing in ferocity.

The Hawking’s crew were well on their way to doing the enemy’s work for him.

Post featuring NPC's PO1 Zal Govan and Crewman Bardon
Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-17-2008

Main Engineering
Chief Engineer's Office

Javier studied the two engineers in silence. He had just finished reviewing the vidlogs of what had transpired on the catwalk. Petty Officer Oakley looked at him for a few seconds then lowered her eyes to the deck. Crewman Boyce, his face swollen and holding his sore jaw, stared at Javier tight-lipped yet still insolent. The two security officers stood beside the engineers, their weapons holstered, waiting for him to say something.

I should have them both thrown in the brig..or worse, bounced over to Operations. But with Boyce this is just a re-occuring scenario and I can't let his poor attitude infect another department. He shifted in his chair and felt the picture that was inside his uniform jacket rub against his undershirt. Here I am baby-sitting these two when I should have been at home..she would have been safer if I had been there…

"Crewman Boyce," Javier said, his voice so sudden that it cracked out like a pistol shot, "you've worn out your welcome on the Hawking. We..I no longer desire your presence in Engineering."

For the first time in weeks Javier had Boyce's complete attention. "I'm putting a transfer request in for you..to anywhere but the Hawking. You've proven time and time again that you don't desire to be part of the crew and so I'm granting your request, immediately." Costala turned to the security officer beside Boyce. "Please escort Crewman Boyce to sickbay so he can get his jaw looked at. Once he has been treated he is to be confined to his quarters until we reach the Outpost. You can lock him in and go about your duties, Mister Boyce seems to enjoy his own company better than anyone else's."

"Noa wai..Ah argh!" Boyce started to say but quit when he found the pain too much to deal with.

"Goodbye Crewman," Javier said, his tone devoid of feeling. The security officer took the statement as his cue to escort the former engineer out of the office.

"Sir, I think Boyce.." Oakley started.

"Petty Officer, you're confined to your quarters for three days," Javier stated in the same unemotional tone. "This incident will go on your fitness report and will probably keep you from attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer for at least a year or so..dismissed."

Heather was on the verge of crying or saying something unprofessional but choked her words back and came to attention as she had seen marines do. "Sir, thank you sir," she said fiercely and snapped off a salute then stormed out of the office. The security officer had to run to catch up with Oakley.

Maybe I should have transferred her to the marines. the engineer thought as he started his report on the incident. Javier typed for a few minutes before he lost his train of thought. He pushed the chair away from the desk, unfastened his uniform collar and took out Lia's picture. None of this matters anymore..

Originally Posted By Javier Costala 02-17-2008

.: U.S.S. Hawking | Shuttlebay :.

"Have you been to the shuttlebay yet?" Nathan asked, glancing briefly over at Jenny, who'd been fairly quiet since they'd left the teen captain's quarters some twenty minutes prior. Their meandering had brought them to the Hawking's shuttlebay, which would of course be vacant at this hour. Of course that hadn't played into the choosing of the shuttlebay as their destination. Not in the least bit. Farthest thing from his mind actually. "Pretty dead though… being late and all."

"I ran through once on a patrol," she looked over the cavernous space, flinching a bit at the echoes their voices made in the darkened chamber. It had been filled with mechanics running diagnostics and pulling random bits out of the shuttles when she and Chief Ellison had gone through. "It's different, now," she sighed, unconsciously leaning closer to Nate, "kind of spooky."

"Oh." He replied quietly. "Yeah. Especially with a spook running around the ship huh?" He looked around, his eyes landing briefly on the wraith, which had a single light shining down onto it. Parts and tools lay spread out around the fighter, as though someone had been working on it recently. Leaving himself a mental note to chastise Stryfe later for leaving them out, he leaned back against a crate, stuffing his hands into his pockets to keep them still.

Jenny, who'd been working a combination of double-split shifts with the rest of Security to try and find even a hint as to the 'spook's' identity, leaned her forehead against the same crate for a moment, "I know it's hard, because, he's on your ship, and that's a huge responsibility but," turning to where he leaned, a silent silhouette, head tilted down, she bit her lip, "I'd give a lot to not have to think about spooks or moles or Acker for a while." Because if she did keep thinking about it, she'd probably fall apart or go… what was that term? Postal… that was it. "I mean… I… just…"

"Harry will catch him." Nathan shrugged. "I mean, We've got a lot of smart people on it so.. It's going to be ok." But course it was just words. He tried to sound unconcerned, but there were seeds of doubt there. Thus far, Nathan hadn't seen anything to suggest that they were any closer to identifying the perpetrator that nearly killed Torrik, nor had they discovered a way to stop it from happening again. Shaking free of dread's clammy fingers, Nathan managed a smile. "Let's don't worry about it for now though."

"Let's don't," she agreed, shifting until their arms brushed, ever so slightly. Even that slight contact was enough to send a rush of nervous energy through her system. Standing there, so close to the only guy she'd felt a connection with since before her Dad died, Jenny really wished either of the two of them had had more… well… experience, cause there was something… something about the dark and the seclusion and the kind of 'off-limits' feel to the shuttle bay that made her feel… "So," she ventured, (cause, hey, nothing ventured, nothing…) "what do folks do… in shuttle bays… when it's way late… and empty?"

Somehwhere, not for far inside the teen's mind, rather close to where the decision making department was actually, there was a little blinking red light. It had just begun blinking furiously. The light lay under a sign that read something like. "Warning: She's making a pass at you." or "She's totally coming on to you." That light hadn't blinked much recently. But seemingly every time Jenny was around, it tried very hard to get Nathan's attention.

It had it now.

"Well." He began flashing a coy grin. "Lot's of stuff I imagine. Like….uhh.." That's when it happened. the little red light blew up and everything else became little more than an afterthought. He leaned in and kissed her. It didn't feel improper. It didn't feel like he was doing something for which he ought to be ashamed. It simply felt like something that he wanted to do, and should have done a long time ago.

Wow… and….. wow… maybe he was more experienced than she'd thought because this felt, this felt.. it felt like nothing she'd ever felt, before. Then she stopped thinking because his lips were moving, and then hers were, too and things just started to progress without any more thought beyond, how had she gotten to nineteen without trying this? And then that thought sort of fell away, too and there was just the moment and their lips finding each other and his hands wrapping around her waist and all the worries and fears of the past few days were forgotten.

Nathan's hands eagerly explored as the teens' lips remained locked eventually finding their way to the smooth contours of her face, and brushing the soft hair framing it. So… this is heaven eh? Who knew it'd be a dark shuttlebay. Nathan had always pictured clouds… harps.. angels.. Harry Finn…

Harry Finn!?

His eyes widened in horror as he spied the grisled old security officer making his way over, his stride brisk and his eyes slits as he glared at the two of them. Jenny hadn't seen him, and was still very much into the tongue wrestling match that he himself had been immersed in a mere two seconds ago.

Crossing the bay, he could see just what had caused the alert and, while it certainly didn't pose a threat to the Hawking's security, what he saw was bound to threaten what little sleep he'd been getting. =/\=Finn to Beta squad, call off the dogs… we have a false intrusion. Repeat, Beta stand down, return to your posts…=/\= He didn't know whether to kill Stryfe for calling this in or buy him a beer.

Striding directly up to where, having heard his voice, Jenny had leapt away from the captain's side like a startled deer, then fell back towards him, "So," he greeted the, ha, tongue-tied teenagers, "what brings you two down here in the dead of night, setting off alarms and causing panic through the ranks?" He paused a moment before adding a desultory, "Sir."

Returning from happyland, and gathering his thoughts about him, Nathan raised an eyebrow. "Who set off an alarm?" He asked casually. "I didn't here an alarm."

He could keep his cool under pressure, you had to give that to Benjamin, "Lieutenant Stryfe… everyone wave to the nice pilot," he tossed a half-assed salute to the obviously chagrined helmsman, peering now from the cockpit of his alien hot rod. "Heard noises and, well, what with the whole saboteur loose on board thing, thought he'd better let Security know about it." He didn't add the suggestion that, the next time the captain felt the urge to make out with Jenny, he should try a holodeck like everyone else because, well, Captain Nathan Benjamin making time with Jenny Anderson was one of the last things Harry ever wanted to know about.


"Sir," Jenny ventured, unsure how to address Finn… her boss… and her god father… while off duty…

"Not the time, Crewman," was his cold response.

Nathan glanced over at Jenny, who was clearly at a loss now and looked quite uncomfortable. He suddenly felt anger rising in his throat like Bile. "You ought to go back to your quarters." He said as lightly as his rapidly spiraling mood would allow. Rather rapidy Nate was becoming a rather upset CO. Upset firstly by the fact that he'd been interrupted during something he'd waited for for ages (also that it had been Vince Stryfe that had been the whistleblower.) And lastly, that Harry had the tendency to make Jenny feel quite small. So I can have a few minutes here with Harry, he thought as his eyes met those of his security chief. Jenny meanwhile, took the opportunity to extract herself from the situation. He waited until she'd left to speak.

"So." He began curtly. "You look like someone with something to say Harry."

"Oh, you know me, Sir, I always have something to say." Finn didn't look away, didn't pull the 'eyes over the superior officer's left shoulder' trick. Not this time. "Problem is, I so seldom find people willing to listen… particularly when they're making a fu…. a huge mistake."

Nathan simply leaned back against a waist high shipping container, resting his hands on the box, making a concious decision not to cross his arms. (Thanks Sociology class!) "I'm listening now Harry. So what mistake are you talking about? Something you want to tell me? That relates to the mission that is, because if this is some sort of dad thing.. then we're just going to be playing the roles that young people and guardians have been playing forever. So what's the deal Harry… What's on your mind?" Harry's decision to maintain eye contact hadn't gone unnoticed either. Some Captains, some officers took prolonged eye contact as a sign of defiance. Nathan filed it away as Harry wanting to make a point. He'd rather he made his point in words though.

"Let's get one thing straight, right off," Harry begain, "no, I don't approve of you and Jenny having a… whatever the hell it is your having, fine. Whatever. But my main concern here is for her safety." He stepped closer, holding his young CO's gaze, "Think about it, just, just for five seconds think, Sir. Would she, under normal circumstances, would the daughter of my deceased best friend, ever have been assigned to work in my department, or even on the same vessel as me? The vetting most crew have to go through to get a starship assignment and, boom, first posting Jen gets the Hawking, where ol' uncle Harry works… where we both know Acker has an operative… and a grudge… and the means to do her harm." He paused, wondered if he'd said too much, if he sounded as cracked as he felt, "I'm more concerned with her safety than her virtue at the moment and you're a distraction that she can't afford."

"So she ought to just go to work, and then sit in her quarters all night? Is that it?" Nathan shook his head. "Look Harry, I know it's suspicious. Shoot. I know you're probably right. She's here because he wants you to be worried about her. But unless you want to lock her up in the brig, or keep her in her quarters twenty four-seven… then I don't know. I mean, she's nineteen years old. She's an adult. We're the same age. And if not me, then there's a ton of other people on the ship she could be hanging out with." Nathan thought that Harry looked worn out. But he always looked tired. He sighed. "You know, I'm not going to let anything happen to her Harry." He finished, in hopes of providing a glimmer of hope. "I like her a lot."

Well, wasn't that just swell? "That's great, Sir, but just ten minutes ago, the two of you made nothing more than a perfect target. If I'd been him… I could have taken both you and Jenny out from the entrance of the bay and you'd have never known what hit you." His words were hollow though, ringing of defeat as Harry admitted that, no, no one ever really listened. "Permission to return to duty?"

"Yeah go." Nathan replied coldy, his other reply dying on his tongue. He didn't want to argue with Harry, but he'd be damned if anything was going to come between him and her. Selfish? Maybe. But everyone was selfish once in a while. Everyone had something they wanted.

"Hey Harry." Nathan called out as he watched the security officer make his way over to the doors. "Tell Kerrin next time you run into her that I liked the last paper she wrote." He gathered a small, grim satisfaction. Even though he was already halfway across the bay, Nathan could see Harry tense a bit.

*A Joint confrontation between Jenny, Captain Emo and Dirty Harry….*

Originally Posted By Nathan Benjamin 02-18-2008

USS Hawking
Saunders/Anderson Quarters - Deck 4

A half-hour after Harry had rousted the lovebirds, he found himself in front of Jenny’s quarters.

Clearly, you’re a glutton for punishment, he told himself as the door whisked open at his chime and he looked around the cramped and very feminine quarters. He’d never visited Jen’s berth… but there was no doubt that Darby Saunders shared this space. His eyes hurt from the varying shades of pink clashing in the room. It made him wonder just what had happened to Saunders as a child… had someone thought she was a boy at a formative stage? Or maybe her mother was one of those beauty pageant freaks who warped their children out of all connection with reality…

“Uncle Har… Sir?” standing just beyond the door, wearing her father’s old ‘I work for a living’ sweatshirt, Jenny waited. “Was there something you wanted?”

“At ease, Jen,” he stepped into the room, “we’re off the clock, and off the record.”

She didn’t look any easier, but she did sit down on the side of her bunk. “Okay?”

He strode to the back of the room, looked out the small port at the rush of hyperspace. How to start, how to start, how to… “About this thing with the captain.”

That wasn’t how he’d wanted to start.

“That’s not really any of your business, is it?”

Embracing the suck he turned back to the girl, “Yes, as a matter of fact it is. As your superior officer, I need to know you’re focused on your job,” and any potential threats, “and not Captain Awesome’s baby blues…”

“That’s complete bullshit and you know it…” she glared at him, testing the limits of ‘off the record’, “You just think everyone else is going to make the same mistakes you did…”

“It’s not just me,” he interrupted, keeping his voice calm, “It’s all of Starfleet…” he rolled his eyes ceilingward for a moment before, “They only haul out the fraternization charge when things go wrong but the fact is, things do go wrong because of it… because people can’t keep their emotions out of the mix and that’s dangerous…”

“You couldn’t keep your emotions out of the mix,” she rose, not nearly as tall but fury gave her at least another ten centimeters in virtual height, “so you think Nate and I…”

Now he straightened, reason nothing more than a memory, “Will you listen to yourself? ‘Nate and I’? Like you’re a couple? Like you have even the slightest grasp of what any kind of relationship with him could mean?”

Grey eyes flashed in response, “I’m not a kid, anymore, Harry…

“No, you’re a teenager… with a crush…”

“I am nineteen!”

“See, see? NineTEEN… teenager!”

She raised her hands in frustration, “So, fine, nineteen is old enough to put my life on the line for the Federation but not old enough to…”

“Not with him,” Harry’s words were short and cold and quiet, “Not with the captain of a Federation Starship and not when you’re in Security. Not when someday there’s a damn good chance he’s going to have to make a choice between you and the other hundred and fifty-some people on this vessel and who do you think he is going to choose?”

“Who did you choose?”

The question stopped him short. “I… what?”

“Before the Anarasi, Harry, who did you choose?” She knew it was cold… knew she was wounding him but she couldn’t stop, not now, not with this blend of old hurt and new anger raging through her…

It was a moment before he could find the breath to answer, “I… didn’t. I tried…” he looked away, found himself staring into a world of pink and closed his eyes, “I thought something was off, I suspected… that Sara was… but I didn't…” He opened his eyes again because the memories were… still… too clear. “I made plans, contingencies, and I watched, but…”

But he hadn’t chosen, had he? If he had… if he’d chosen Sara, well then, Acker would have escaped… he’d have been beamed from a shuttle who’s shields had been de-activated and no one would have died and no one would have known how it had happened. Except Sara.

And Harry.

If he’d chosen Starfleet… his team… if he’d have told them what he suspected… if he had, Harry would never have been left alone with Acker and Sara. Sara would never have given Harry the dose of digitalis and she’d never have broken into the crate of Thermolyte.

And, again, no one would have died.

“So, you didn’t choose at all?”

He blinked, brought back to the present by the daughter of one of those he’d failed.


“So they all died.” Her voice caught but her eyes were cold, still.

“Yes,” the admission was harsh, biting, a saw over the vocal chords.

“So,” she stepped closer, holding his gaze, leaving no avenue of escape, “why should I listen to anything you have to say?”

Post featuring NPC Crewman Jenny Anderson

Originally Posted By Harry Finn 02-18-2008

The Wasteland

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