FANDOM


Comm-Command
Season: One
Episode Number: One
Start Date: 19 May 2009
Stardate: stardate 2387.520


The Miranda has a new Captain, new faces, and a new mission.


"Hello, Ship."Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii

"Starbase Control, this is Runabout Mississippi. We have Captain Elaithin aboard to take command of U.S.S. Miranda, and are requesting approach instructions." The shuttle pilot's tone was bored, but with an edge of excitement. It had, after all, been a very long and very quiet two-week trip aboard the small runabout from Starbase 47 to Starbase 616. Two long weeks with only the two of them, all the way from the Taurus Reach on the edge of Tholian Space, out here to Starbase 616, Starfleet's farthest out major fleet base, in space that wasn't even technically claimed by the Federation. There was a fair number of light years between those two points.

Starbase 616 herself hung like a silent sentinel in the night. She orbited no planets, and had been constructed from the material of a nearby interstellar asteroid field that had been made from the collapse of a rogue planet. Her gleaming blue-grey hull seemed, cliche as it was, busy as a beehive the closer one got with the sheer amount of work bee, shuttle and even starship traffic swarming all in and around it. He even spotted a ship he recognized, the Sugihara, on her outbound approach vector. For a moment, Jii found the comparison between starbase and insect hive amusing, but the the thought of such a busy station briefly made him homesick.

"Roger, Mississippi, this is Starbase Control. You are cleared to approach NCC-77000 to deliver Captain Elaithin. U.S.S. Miranda is docked in Work Bay 32. You are assigned approach pattern Delta-two-six, the way is clear. Miranda is prepared to recieve via main shuttlebay. Admiral Murdock and Admiral Anthony Maab send their compliments to the Captain."

"Send the Admirals my compliments as well, Ensign," Jii replied, completing the ages-old naval tradition.

Well, that was a thought that was going to have to change, wasn't it? Starbase 47 wasn't home anymore. And the Valiant, tough, unreliable ship that she was, wasn't his anymore either. They were now under the command of his old XO, and he was out here, ready to take command of a real Starship.

He was strangely eager to get his first sight of her. The Miranda had never come his way in the whole time he'd been commanding his Starbase, but then, the Taurus Reach was the wrong direction for a long-range explorer. Even during that Federation Day business back on Earth two years ago, he'd never really gotten a look at her. That had all been a bit hectic, in any event.

He knew the specifications, of course. Any commanding officer worth his salt would do so for his new command, and to anyone with the engineering background Jii had, the ship was a thing of beauty. Trailblazer-class, six hundred meters long and a hundred and fifteen meters tall. Thirty-four decks. Crew compliment of 1,612, give or take a baker's dozen. A small fleet of one hundred and fourteen shuttlecraft and runabouts. And with thirty-eight phaser turrets, two pulse phaser arrays, a disruptor cannon and only sixteen torpedo bays, she was fairly lightly armed as ships of her tonnage went.

All in all, a good ship, with a record of service damn near any Captain in the Fleet would kill to have a shot at commanding.

"Acknowledged, control," Ensign Farragut responded. "Captain Elaithin sends his thanks and compliments to the Admiral as well. Approach pattern Delta-six-two, Main Shuttlebay, confirmed. We have the ball Mississippi, clear."

And then he got his first look at her.

If he'd thought the Starbase looked busy, in was nothing compared to the hive of activity around the - his - ship. An entire section of the ventral hull of the saucer had been removed - it looked as though the primary sensor arrays were being replaced. He'd need to be brought up to date on the current status of the refit as soon as possible. The second officer would be a holdover from Murdock's crew, and unless Anton had arrived early, would still be in charge. He made a mental note get briefed on the refit as soon as possible, but returned his attention to the ship herself.

"First time seeing her, Captain?" the Ensign asked quietly. He had a small smile on his face, and Jii realized that he was probably showing more of his excitement than was appropriate for a proper captain. He didn't quite care, however. He was excited, and he could damn well at least show it here.

"It is, Ensign," he replied as he let his eyes pass along the graceful lines of the ship's hull before finally coming to the words emblazoned across the side of her saucer. A feeling of possessiveness came over him as he read the name and realized truly, for the first time, that this ship was now his. It didn't have Aire - nowhere did any more - and Toryl was now at Starfleet Academy himself. That left Jii his work, and that meant the Miranda was now not just a ship. It was home.

"She's a beauty, sir, if you don't mind my saying."

"I don't mind it at all, Mr. Farragut."

The main shuttle bay access was on both the port and starboard sides of the saucer section, rather than the typical location for ships of this size. Jii thought the change made more sense, particularly if the need to evacuate the ship ever arose. He felt the slight vibration as the docking tractors took control of the Runabout from the Ensign, and tuned out the routine conversation the pilot was having with the Miranda's shuttlebay operations officer. A group of officers was assembling on the deck outside into parade rest formation. With a small smile, Jii picked up his rucksack and the padd containing his official orders. As he stood, he gave Farragut a clap on the shoulder.

"Thanks for the ride, Ensign," he said. Truthfully, he'd enjoyed the young man's company these past two weeks, and had found the Ensign's to be uncomfortably better at chess than he was himself. "Don't worry about attending the change-of-command ceremony, Ensign. Getting your post-flight done's more important. And I think we can skip your reporting in to your new CO. Just see the Chief Flight Controller when you're done here."

"Aye, Captain," the pilot replied with a nod and a smile of his own. Young Mr. Farragut was newly assigned to the Miranda as well, which was why Jii had taken him as his pilot. No sense wasting fuel on separate transports, after all.

That done, Elaithin slid the rucksack up to a comfortable position on his shoulder, and checked to make sure his uniform was squared away properly. When the hatch had cycled open, it was Captain Elaithin who took a step out to take his first breath of Miranda's recycled air.

And then Jii smiled as his foot made contact with the solid duranium deck. The hum of background noise of a shuttlebay hit his ears, and a thousand different smells adjusted his nostrils. This shuttlebay, like the ship, was a living breathing thing. And now, for the first time, he truly felt a part of it. A bosun's whistle sounded, but the new Captain as too busy taking it all in.

"Hello, ship," he said quietly, and then turned towards the waiting officers.

Time to get to work.

"The Ghost in the Lift"Edit

Lt.CMDR K. Jordan Lankin
Intelligence Field Director, 12th Fleet

Lt.JG Titan Call (npc)
Intelligence Analyst

"So Boss," Titan Call said, following the woman as she wove through the Miranda's large intelligence center -- through one room, around another, passing through doorways, picking up reports and handing off others in rapid succession, greeting people as she went. Jordan Lankin wasn't a tall woman, but she wasn't short either, and could certainly give the illusion of possessing several additional inches of height -- especially when she moved like this. The intelligence center was her baby, redesigned by her own hand the moment she got the command, and she navigated the darkened room with its illuminated holographic displays as though she was partaking in a fast-paced ballet through hell. "What do you know about the new C.O.?"

"Nothing more than you, Titan," she said, pausing by a large holographic display board; a few green splotches had popped up and she frowned, tapping at them to pull up the schematics and reports, which she loaded onto a nearby padd. She quickly made notes about each as she skimmed the data. Over the past year he'd been working with her, he'd long gotten used to it -- the speed at which she operated, her ability to digest full reports in the matter of moments. Not to mention her uncanny ability to know everything about everyone, precisely why he didn't believe this statement in the least.

"Bullshit."

"Elaithin Jii," she rattled off as she pushed away from the board and continued the pace through her domain. "A Bajoran farm boy born in the final years of the Occupation. First in his class at Starfleet command school, served with distinction through the Dominion War -- Starfleet Cross, two purple hearts, commendations for original thinking and calm under pressure. Was agent 'Paladin' in the Wonderland Project. And most recently, Victor Murdock's handpicked successor for command of his beloved Miranda and the whole of the twelfth fleet."

Titan was quiet a moment. "He got the Federation Medal of Honor for the Wonderland thing, didn't he?"

He almost swore the director winced. "Yes, well. Good things happen to the squeaky-clean, I suppose," she said dismissively.

"But you've met him, then?"

"Elaithin? Oh no. We played different fronts of the same war and never the 'twain shall meet. The Old Man wanted to minimize the possibility of any of us being compromised, so we only knew codenames and never operated face to face. The trials exposed identities, but we haven't exactly held reunions since." She paused a moment, and frowned thoughtfully toward the ceiling. "I've never met Elaithin, but come to think of it -- our new XO did try to kill me once."

He stopped in his tracks. "Water under the bridge, I hope," he said.

"With Joral Anton, one can never tell," she replied.

She glanced over her shoulder at him, her dark auburn-brown mane framing her face. Despite this, she didn't miss a step and gracefully dodged around a tech-geek with his arms full of various contraptions. He mumbled a muffled apology and wavered on his way, his pile wobbling as he did so. The boss seemed completely undisturbed by the dance.

"I wasn't talking about him," Titan replied, catching him to her.

She smirked, eyes dancing. "One can never tell with me, either."

"I'm just going to let that one go, just in case of a future grand jury and return to our original topic if you don't mind."

"Of course not." She paused at another station, tapping through it with quick jabs to the display, but she said nothing more.

Titan mentally sighed. "What do you know about him beyond the bio?" he pressed.

"About who -- Elaithin?" she questioned, raising an eyebrow as she glanced sideways. "My brother thinks he's got a lot of potential, but other than that... I really don't know much more. What do you think I did, Titan -- a deep background check the moment I heard the Old Man was retiring?"

"That's exactly what I think."

"Well... yes. I did. And sadly, despite my best efforts, I found nothing more than a penchant for throwing a right hook we he gets drunk and the fact that he has a really cute ass."

Titan chuckled. "That's a little out of line, Boss."

"What do you want from me? I'm either stuck in this dark cave of an intelligence center or in a real cave on Cardassia, so I take the eye candy where I can get it -- even if it is the derriere of a play-it-by-the-book starship captain." She paused at the desk of one of the analysts, a tiny Trill who was practically glued to his computer console 26 hours a day. "Make sure this gets to the Director ASAP."

She handed the new data padd toward him. The movement displayed the black tattoo branded into the inside of her left wrist; it'd been a year and a cold bolt still jolted through him every time he saw the number. Judging from the expression that flickered over the young Trill's face, Titan wasn't alone.

"Yes ma'am," the kid stuttered softly with a nod.

"I have the distinct feeling you're holding out on me," Titan said.

"I'm not, I assure you. And if you don't believe me, you can ask him yourself. Elaithin Jii is about as wholesome as his mother's hasperat souffle, I'm sure. Now, we're due for formal introduction in--" She glanced at the nearest holodisplay and cursed under her breath. "Ten minutes."

The field director sighed and glanced back into the center's central command space. He could almost see the thought bubble above her head and for a moment, would have sworn she'd whimpered.

"Don't worry," he said, patting her on the shoulder as he handed her the black jacket of her intelligence dress uniform. "I'm sure the universe will still be a mess when we're done with the toasting and the eating."

"So this is why you've been carrying that around all this time," she muttered, taking it and pulling it on over the black tank top she'd been wearing, though she didn't zip it up.

"Nothing gets past you, Boss," he laughed. "We better get to it." But she was already on her way through the multiple security locks and into the lift. He smirked and followed, stepping inside and folding his arms as the doors closed. "I'm definitely going to tell him about that cute ass remark."

"If you do, they will never find your body."

"Ah yes, I remember. You're a badass."

"Don't forget it again."

He smirked. "I'll try not to, Boss."

"I really need to brighten that place up," she sighed, rubbing her eyes as the lift continued its descent toward the shuttle bay. "It's not a good sign that I'm temporarily blinded the moment I step out."

"At least you're not going directly to the bridge," he said. "The halls are bad enough, but the iridescent white makes my eyes feel like they're melting out of my skull."

"Yes. I think I'm going to start wearing sunglasses when I'm called up there."

"It is within your power to fix it," he pointed out, glancing down, through the half-foot separating their height. The Intelligence Center was the opposite of the bridge in almost every way -- gleaming black fixtures and consoles, dimmed lighting, dark uniforms, it all gave a very 'abandon all hope' feel if you were unaccustomed to it -- a stark contrast to the bright lights, white displays and primary colors that littered the bridge and most other ship locations. "The ops guys might have a fit, but I'm sure a redecoration is possible. Tack it onto the refit. I mean -- does the intelligence center really have to be a black hole?"

"If it's not, how do I get across our dark knight identity?" she asked. "It's all about symbolism, Titan. Didn't you pay attention in letters?"

"I never cared much for literature."

She shrugged. "It keeps us in the game. Draws a line. Intelligence isn't the place for dreamers; I want to make sure my people are grounded."

"A noble effort. But I think you can do that without sucking all the joy and life out of their existences."

She looked up at him and her eyes narrowed. "Are you trying to lose your knee-caps?"

"And not everyone in the regular fleet is a misty-eyed Utopian, Kit," he said. "You respect the Old Man, don't you?"

"Of course I do. However, that respect does not mean that he is *not* a misty-eyed Utopian." A small smile brushed the woman's features and her face eased -- her soft spot for the Old Man was amusing and touching, and idly, Titan Call wondered how she would get on without him there to talk her down when the crazy started to happen. "He may actually have my brother beat in that respect. All I'm saying is that not everything is light and fluffy, and sometimes we forget that in Starfleet. In fact, oftentimes I think we're encouraged to. And besides -- I like the intelligence center just as it is."

He chuckled and shook his head. "Okay. That excuse I'll allow," he said.

"How very kind of you."

With that, the lift slowed to a stop and the doors spread wide to reveal the officers gathering for the emergence of their new CO. And as he watched the shuttle's doors opened, Titan Call could only hope this Elaithin Jii knew what he was getting into.

But somehow, he doubted it.

“Ave! Duci Novo, Similis Duci Seneci”Edit

SCPO. Lorelai MacRae
Engineering Systems Specialist

CPO. Francesca ‘Frankie’ Devaux
Intelligence Specialist (NPC)

CPO. Areth Vora
Master-at-Arms (NPC)

CPO. Grask
Storekeeper (NPC)

'CPO Country', USS Miranda (Currently docked at Starbase 616)

Lorelai stepped out of the bunk room and walked down the corridor the CPO mess hall, half fastening her tunic as she walked. The aroma of fresh coffee and bacon hanging in the air as the door slid across and she stepped into the CPOs very own sanctuary. It wasn't much, but it was home and it was secluded – and first thing in the morning, that was exactly what Lorelai wanted. It was early, too early if the truth were to be told, but things had to be done and, again if the truth were to be forthcoming, there was an air of excitement on the ship that had probably kept half the crew up with excitement and the rest up with worry.

“Your up early Lori.” Commented Frankie, as she sat picking at what looked like the remains of her bacon and eggs. “I didn't think your shift started for another three hours?”

“Well,” Lori said as she stepped past, “big day today...busy one too they're doing more work on the primary sensor array and want to see how much they've fouled it up before the new Lieutenant gets here.” She poured a cup of coffee and rested against the bar. “Where'd you get the food? They don't open up for another hour or so.” Lori nodded towards the small galley behind her.

“I can cook, you know. You seem to forget I was a wife.”

Lorelai looked slightly confused. “Frankie, you do remember that you are still married? I should know, I was your maid of honour.”

“Different sectors, doesn’t count.” She said with a wink.

Lori held her hands up. “Hey, I don't judge, whatever works for you and John is fine with me.” She took a more serious tone. “How is he?”

Frankie noticed the change in tone. “He's fine...we both are. If we're really lucky we might even have a few days crossover here when the La Concorde docks.”

Lori looked down at the young intelligence specialist. Subspace relationships were hard but, possibly through being as open as possible and acting like they were still single, they got through it. It wasn't something she could have done.

Her moment of reflection was punctured by the main door sliding open and a Bajoran man stumbling in looking tired and run down and badly in need of some rest.

“Heavy night on shore leave Areth?” Lori asked, tongue in cheek.

“Not funny, SC. Just once I'd like to actually be out there having fun rather than spending my night dragging drunks and trouble makers into the brig.” His nose sniffed something out. “Is that fresh coffee?”

“Frankie put a pot on, help yourself.” Lori pointed to the pot on the small hotplate. As she turned back the door slid back for a second time and a familiar Ferengi came in.

“I've manged to acquire another packet of...” He stopped short, realizing that Areth was between him and his destination. “...some more coffee from the stores.”

“Which stores Grask?” Asked Areth with more than a hint of suspicion in his voice.

“Does it matter?” The Ferengi Chief asked.

“Not today. I'm too tired to care and it is a special day - but let's not make a habit of it.”

The Ferengi turned to the Bajoran. “I’ll have you know I run an honest storeroom thank you very much. Nothing has ever been recorded missing.” Grask said.

Lorelai smiled. “I like that, 'recorded'. That either makes you very contentious or very crafty, Grask. In four years I’ve never quite been able to work out which it is.”

“Neither have I.” Said Areth, looking up from his coffee. “But I know which way I'm leaning.”

Frankie looked up from her report. “Do we know when the new crew are arriving anyway, the officers I mean?”

“No idea.” Said Areth. “Could be anytime and they might not all arrive together, transfers and all. I know the Captain arrives today. The security office has been buzzing.”

“I assume the Master Chief is dealing with all the ceremony and handshaking. I certainly didn't get an invite in the mail and, to be fair, some of us have to keep the ship running.” Lori said.

“Well, then Master Chief can worry about them. I doubt we’ll see them too much past today, once the grand tour is over anyway.” Areth replied.

“What do we know about our new Captain anyway?” Lori asked. “I know he was at '47 before here and that he has some engineering background but that's all I know”

“Aww, does no-one tell the engineers anything anymore?” Said Frankie in mock sympathy.

“They only tell us what's broken and when they want it fixed.” Lori replied. “What about Commander Lankin, I'm sure she's got a file on him. Way I hear it she has one on everybody.”

“I'm sure she does but the day I see them will be the day a Ferengi makes an honest deal.” She turned to Grask. “Present company accepted, obviously.”

Areth stood up and walked toward the bunkrooms. “all I know is that he was hand picked by the Old Man himself. See you guys later, play nice with the new people now.” Areth disappeared down the corridor and Lori, Grask and Frankie her the door click behind him.

“So,” Frankie began, “he's got a wealth of experience by the sound of it and Murdock trusted him enough to hand over the Miranda. I guess the Old Man saw something in him he really liked.” She checked the time. “I'd better get this to the intel center. I'll catch you two later.” She stood and made for the door.

Lorelai liked the sound of this new Captain already. “Do you think we have a case of 'Ave! Duci novo, similis duci seneci!'” She quoted with a smirk.

“I'm sorry?” Grask said. “Could you repeat that for those of us that don't speak gibberish?”

“It's Latin. Roughly translated it means 'Here comes the new boss, same as the odd boss.” She placed her mug on the counter top. “I guess we'll just have to see over time if that's true or not. Right, let's go to work. We can compare notes later.”

"Why Don't You Let Me Take it From Here?"Edit

Commander (earlier: Lieutenant Commander) Joral Anton
Executive Officer, USS Miranda
(earlier: Acting Commanding Officer, USS Prospero)

Captain Elaithin Jii
Commanding Officer, USS Miranda

Lieutenant Commander Joral Ulani Former Chief of Security, USS Prospero

-Stardate 2387.520 (Today)-

The shuttlebay of the Miranda echoed with a resounding clank as a pair of boots hit the deck, and their owner dropped a large duffel beside the shuttle he had just departed.

The gold-shirted officer took a look around the deck. The cavernous bay was remarkably cramped, with dozens upon dozens of craft and a couple hundred jumpsuit-clad technicians bustling around, dealing with embarking crew.

A nervous-looking Saurian ensign hurried up to the Bajoran officer. The Bajoran's eyebrow raised at the appearance of this fresh-faced youth - particularly the part where it appeared that the man had thrown on a dress uniform in rather a hurry. He had forgotten his belt, and his red tunic was flapping about with his movements. One of his epaulets had come loose, and all of this added to the young officer's already harried appearance.

"Sir?"

The Bajoran in gold looked at him with an expression that evoked both inquiry and disapproval, and the Saurian shirked back a little.

Sighing in exasperation, the newly-arrived officer said, "May I help you, Ensign?"

"Um, Sir, if you're Commander Joral, sir, I, uh..." His words failed him a moment, and the Bajoran commander stood there with his arms folded, waiting for him to continue with an air of waning patience.

The Ensign took a deep breath and continued, "I'm sorry that, well, we have no one else to greet you..." There was a pause, and it because clear that what the ensign meant is that he would have preferred that anyone else be standing here. "But, you see, sir, Captain Jii's shuttle is just arriving too, um, just over there sir..."

He silenced as a feral grin lit up the features of the Miranda's new XO, and again he shrank back as Joral turned towards the arriving runabout that had been indicated and the crowd of personnel gravitating towards it. He barely managed to make out the name - Mississippi - before the craft touched down.

The Commander started to walk that way, and the ensign visibly relaxed, thinking himself forgotten. This would explain why he nearly tripped when Joral suddenly turned back to him.

"Ensign, are you planning to call my sister a slut?"

A look of incredulity and terror widened the ensigns already-gigantic eyes, and he shook his head, gulping nervously.

Joral nodded, looking mollified and even somewhat paternal. "Then stop worrying about whether or not I'm going to break your jaw."

He turned and continued towards the Mississippi, calling over his shoulder, "Oh, and you have about ten minutes before Captain Elaithin officially takes command. Have your uniform squared away and regulation by then."

Joral reached the captain's runabout just as the hatch opened, and a slightly-taller, slightly-older Bajoran ban exited the craft. Walking brazenly past the Petty Officer whistling the ship's new CO aboard, Joral was close enough to hear his old friend's first words out of the craft.

"Hello, Ship."

A mischievous glint lit up Joral's eyes, and he slipped unnoticed behind the captain and affected a whispy, feminine voice.

"Hello, Jii."

-Stardate 2387.515-

"Captain?"

There was a several second delay before Joral Anton turned around in the command chair of the Prospero. The term 'Captain' was one he had difficulty responding to, particularly when it was usually said with a certain amount of contempt.

Rather than answering the on-duty communications officer, he merely raised an inquiring eyebrow.

"Your sister is hailing from the Starbase."

Joral nodded. "I'll take it in the Ready Room, Ensign."

He had almost made it to the door when he heard the lieutenant at operations mumble; "Maybe they finally arrested the slut for her lies and she's warning you to get out before they come for you..."

Without warning, Joral's fist connected with the side of the man's face. The lieutenant went sprawling on the deck, bleeding heavily from a gash in his lip and too shocked to respond. Joral Anton was known as a short-tempered man, but never a violent one.

The lieutenant looked up to see the acting CO of the Prospero was standing over him, showing no sign of anger at all. In fact, he was showing no sign of anything, and seemed entirely unaware of the uncomfortable silence on the bridge. He looked down at the officer collapsed on the deck and spoke to him in a cold voice, devoid of any inflection.

"You are relieved of duty, Lieutenant, and on report. Someone escort this man to the brig."

He left without a further word... and without seeing nor caring whether anyone had carried out his order.

++++++++++

"What happened?"

Joral Ulani's face appeared on the monitor in front of her older brother, her features etched with concern.

A wry grimace upturned the corner of Anton's mouth. "I hate it when you do that." He rubbed the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. "Never mind about it for now. What the story, midget?"

Ulani raised an eyebrow at her brother's attempt to change the subject with her childhood nickname, but went ahead and let the matter drop for now. "I need an excuse to call my beloved domineering big brother?"

"When you use the terms 'beloved' and 'domineering' in the same sentence? Yes."

A short laugh escaped Ulani's lips, surprising Anton. He hadn't heard her laugh since before the trial, in which the Prospero's former captain and executive officer had been convicted of raping her, and then plotting to murder her. Clearly something was making her contented at the very least, if not actually happy.

"I just wanted to tell you, I've received a transfer to Starfleet Security. Captain Saler was impressed with my 'mettle', whatever that's supposed to mean, and wants to keep me on as an investigator. I'm heading to Earth in a few days."

Anton felt a slight pang of regret; the pair had served together almost continuously since leaving the Academy. Of course, he had told her already of his intent to resign, so it was no surprise that she was leaving the Prospero, to say nothing of the bad memories the ship held for her now.

Almost as if reading his mind, Ulani asked, "You're still planning to go through with it then?"

"Of course," Anton answered without hesitation. "There's no place here for me. If I take command of the Prospero like Starfleet's offered, I'd have to get rid of most of the crew, and I'd have a hell of a time finding replacements who wanted anything to do with me, and if I turn the command down, not only do I have no where else to go, but I doubt Starfleet will ever offer me another ship." There was a pause, and he added, "The part where I just broke Lieutenant Wilkinson's jaw probably won't help."

He'd made the explanation to her half-a-dozen times before (minus the art about the broken jaw, of course), and Ulani had always nodded in understanding and said nothing, though she couldn't hide the disappointed look in her eyes. This time, however, she smiled, a feral smile she'd always used when they were teenagers and she'd just done something she shouldn't have.

"Really?" She asked, and Anton started to feel uncomfortable. "What if I said I have a better idea?"

The uncomfortable feeling increased exponentially, and Joral started to feel slightly ill. "Ulani, what have you done?"

"Me? Nothing. I just heard from an old friend, that's all. And he asked after you... well, one thing led to another." Her tone was becoming slightly defensive, something that normally followed that feral smile. "It's not my fault! I'm only looking out for you, big brother!"

Joral was becoming annoyed, but his retort was cut off by a familiar voice offscreen.

"Ulani, why don't you let me take it from here..."

-Stardate 2387.520 (Today)-

Joral had the satisfaction of seeing Elaithin start ever so slightly, and he smirked. "I'm sorry, Jii, did I distract you from the dignity of the moment?"

"Asshole," the other muttered under his breath, and then extended a hand and smiled. "Good to see you, Anton."

Joral took his old friend's hand, and then took a quick stock of the Captain's appearance. Raising his brow, he asked, "Are you getting fat?"

The other just sighed, and appeared to be seriously rethinking his choice of executive officer. "Come on," Jii just said. "Let's meet our crew."

"And May God Have Mercy On Their Souls"Edit

Dr. Lt. Robert West
soon-to-be Chief Medical Officer, USS Miranda

Starfleet Medical: Earth

The physician's words flew past at several miles per second, as if they had an important date that they were already 5 minutes late for. Equally frantic, but with a manner that could only be described as "zesty", the *source* of the rapid-fire vocabularizations was moving back and forth in front of an obviously distressed young woman.

"WellBasedOnTheSymptomsPresentedAndTakingIntoAccountTheProgressionOfTheDiseaseWithinThisTimeFrameIWouldEstimateThatYouHaveSixHoursToLiveWeCanGiveYouSomethingForThePainAndMaybeAGoodBookToPassTheTimeYouLikeBooksRight?IWasPrettySureYouLiked..."

He was tall, for a human, and possessed a rather handsome face, although the expression he wore on it seemed to suggest that he lived inside his own thoughts and cared very little about his appearance. His hair was unforgivably blond, and the coloring seemed on the verge of suddenly bursting into a Josephistic spectrum as an outward indicator of the frantic time-bomb inside him. His auctioneering was brought to a sudden halt, however, by an interruption from the woman.

"WAIT!....back up to the part about dying?"

"Huh? Oh...right...6 hours to live." the previously animated (and disturbingly cheerful) doctor responded, looking confused. His rhythm was seriously off now, and it made him uncomfortable.

"Oh my God....I...." the woman began to weep, "I'm going to DIE...I'm...."

As the woman broke down into uncontrollable sobs, Dr. West glanced around the room nervously. She was hysterical. He couldn't handle hysterical. Happy was good. Content was good. Even mildly dejected was OK every now and then. But hysterics, especially DEPRESSING ones, were something he just wasn't prepared to deal with.

"I...um....I'm....sorry?" he offered. He really needed her to stop crying.

"Is there *sob* anything you can give me *sniff* for the pain?" she asked, calming down slightly.

That was all he needed, and a wide smile came back to his face. ~This~, he thought, ~was more like it~.

"OhYesLetMeShowYouTheOptionsWeHaveALotOfOptionsYouWon'tFeelAThingWhenYouPassOn...."

The uncontrollable weeping began again.

On the other side of the glass, two men sat watching the spectacle, one clearly much more agitated than the other.

"That's it. I've had it. I'm failing him." the more aggravated of the two pronounced with finality.

The second man considered this for a moment before responding.

"John, look. I know he's weird, maybe even unbalanced..." he began, then, responding to a glare from the other, "OK, DEFINITELY unbalanced. But he's brilliant. He's one of the best medical students I've ever seen. We can't keep him from graduating, Starfleet could use him."

"I don't care HOW smart he is. Look at him! He's off in his own universe! We can't let this man deal with patients...I think it might actually break the Hippocratic Oath to do so."

"He doesn't have to work with patients. We can recommend him for medical research or hell, make him an autopsy guy, he's specialized in Pathology and Surgery, it's perfect. He'll never deal with *living* patients that way."

"Alright, Craig, fine. You win. I'll pass him through this class...but he's getting a D, no higher." John relented.

"That'll be fine, it should only drop him to 3rd or 4th in the class anyway. Trust me, John, he'll be a fantastic asset to Starfleet Medical, and in a research role, he'll never lay eyes on a single patient, and he'll SURE as hell never set foot on a starship."

++++++++++

"Last call for Dr. Robert West! The shuttle for the USS Miranda leaves in 5 minutes, please report to the docking station. Thank you.", the loudspeaker deadpanned.

"Hey!" the young traveler next to him nudged, "Isn't that you? Didn't you say your name was Robert?"

Dr. West looked over at his bench-mate. They were sitting just outside one of the gift shops on board the station. He smiled.

"Yep. That's me, you got it. I guess I'd better get on board the ship, huh? They might leave without me, and THEN who would research all those wonderful new diseases and parasites we're bound to discover out there?", he said while standing up.

Several thoughts entered his head at once. He thought about all those new bacteria and diseases that no one had discovered yet. All those new ways to get sick, and to STUDY those sick people. You could literally see the bounce in his step as he started to walk off.

"AndAllThoseNewAlienSpeciesThatI'llGetToStudyAndMaybeEvenDisectAndCutIntoIt'sGoingToBeFantasticToGetOutThereAndAwayFromTheStationForAwhileAndResearchOutIn...."

The young man, continuing to stare at him, interrupted.

"You know, there's something about you that isn't quite right."

Robert, losing his rhythm now but keeping the same slightly-unsettling smile on his face, replied, "That's what they tell me. I suppose it must be true if enough people think it. Anyway, I'd better be going. Take care!"

As the doctor walked away, the young man called after him.

"They aren't going to be letting you anywhere near the crew, are they?"

Robert called back:

"I don't see how they're going to avoid it! I'm the Chief Medical Officer!"

"Hangin' Tough"Edit

Lieutenant Dick Winters

Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco, Earth

"Looks good, Ensign. Make sure that Commander Nixon sees this and then you can take lunch," Winters said as he reviewed the padd a blonde, and very attractive, ensign had brought for him to review.

She smiled at the praise while retrieving the padd and then was off. Starfleet Headquarters Operations Central was busy that day and it was doubtful that he himself would have a chance to eat lunch. No sense in torturing anyone else in the process. He reached for the next padd containing yet another request to transport Qadrotritcale to an outlying colony that seemed to be having trouble growing their own crops. This was the 12th request that he had received that day and quickly made a mental note to contact the Plant Engineering division to see if they could find a genetic defect in the seed that had been sent to the twelve colonies in question.

It was as he was drafting up the letter that he felt that all too familiar tap on his shoulder. "Dick, walk with me," said a nasally voice. Lt. Commander Herbert Sobel.

Sobel was one of the worst commanding officers that Winters had ever encountered in his time in Starfleet. The man lacked even the most basic of common sense and while he seemed to have a knack for motivating those who served under him, he did nothing to inspire their confidence in them. It wasn't the first time that he had found himself thankful that this man served the greater good from within the confines of this office and wasn't leading men in to battle.

"Dick, please sign this," he said as the two of them walked through the corridors on their way to Sobel's office. He handed Winters a padd for him to review.

He had barely read the first two lines when he nearly stopped walking. "What's this?" he questioned.

"A disciplinary requisition form, I would think that as an Operations officer you would be acquainted with their design," Sobel replied dryly.

"Begging the Commander's pardon, sir, but the question that I was inferring was not related to the design of the form, but rather that the form is intended for me."

"Dick, where were you at 1000 hours this morning?" asked Sobel.

"Sorting through the cargo manifest for Vega as you had ordered yesterday before my shift ended," came the reply.

"Wrong. At 0955 hours you were to have been monitoring the installation of the new EPS conduit that will be connect to this office," Sobel said as he sat down in the chair behind an antique wooden desk.

"Sir, I received no notice of this order," Winters defended himself.

"I tried to contact you by your communicator," Sobel said, now looking at something on one of the padds awaiting him on his desk.

"No communication reached me, sir."

"That's no excuse. You still disobeyed a direct order from your commanding officer," countered Sobel.

"Sir, was I to sort through the cargo for the Vega and monitor the EPS conduit installation at the same time?"

"Don't be ridiculous. You should have delegated one of the responsibilities. Honestly, Dick, that's one of the first aspects of being a good leader. If you can't learn that, you will never advance in your career. Be a man, Dick, take the punishment. You spend your weekends at Headquarters anyway," Sobel said as briefly looked from the work on his desk.

A twinge of anger ran through Winters. How much longer was he going to be able to deal with the incompetance of this man? Even at a desk job, he was one of worst COs in the history of Starfleet. It had reached a point with him that it was either he or Sobel that had to go and at the moment, he only had control of one person and that was himself. He quickly stabbed his thumb onto the padd to accept the Court Martial.

"Very well, then, I request trial by Court-Martial," he said as he set the padd down on Sobel's desk.

Sobel's face looked like it dropped 5 stories as he stared at the padd.

"Will that be all, sir?" Winters asked, his face stern and businesslike.

Sobel swallowed hard. "That will be all, Lieutenant," he said nervously, "Dismissed."

With one hard salute, Winters turned and left Sobel's office. This would be the end of this nightmare, for better or for worse.

"Transfer In"Edit

Roger Vernikoff
Master Warrant Officer, Intelligence Analyst

Guest Quarters, USS Pompeii, on approach to Starbase 616

The years were fairly kind to the man sitting alone in his assigned quarters. He had served in the fleet for 30 years this past March, and would probably serve for another 10 or so. He wasn't in a hurry to leave anyway. There was really no where for him to go, no one to go home to, no children or grandchildren to go camping or to Disneyworld with. Oh, sure, he could retire and spend the rest of his days in Miami. But what would be the point? He actually still liked being on the front lines, serving in Starfleet.

He took a short drink of the tequila that one of his acquaintances at Starbase 22 sent to him as a token of appreciation for a "problem" he helped her out with. Apparently, her "itch" was scratched appropriately, and Roger Vernikoff certainly did have a taste for the stuff. He checked the time on the crimson chronometer on the shelf on the opposite side of the room from him. They should be arriving at Starbass 616 shortly. That's where his next assignement was waiting for him. Not on the Starbase, but what was berthed there: the USS Miranda.

It was a sobering thought that he would be working for Jordan Lankin. He didn't pay any heed to the whispers that he had heard about her in the Intelligence community; he simply didn't care. She was going to be the boss, and he was going to do the same job he had done for decades which was to help catch the bad guys...especially smugglers. His thoughts strayed to the day he had to put cuffs on his own brother and immediately he forced those thoughts out, taking a deeper drink of the contents of his glass.

Putting the glass down, he went to the head to check his appearance. Roger smiled and nodded at the way he still looked: capable. He was capable of many things, even though he sat behind a computer display for most of his career. Being an analyst didn't mean he was a pussy. It just meant that he used his mind to fight the information battles that he had fought instead of shooting and getting shot at directly. Nonetheless, a pang a of regret hit him, and not for the first time. There was no one left in his family if and when he moves on to the next life (whatever that may be).

His parents were dead, no--murdered. His only brother was on a penal colony for the rest of his natural life. He never got married, and never took the time to try and start a family. No, Roger regretted not taking time for a personal life of any kind. It was always the 'Fleet that came first and last. But that's okay, he thought. You've been doing the right thing all of these years, doing your part to ensure the peace. Hadn't he? He thought he did.

There was a slight sensation as the ship dropped out of warp, and a moment later the computer made an announcement to the people who were listed as disembarking there.

"Attention, please. We are now on final approach to Starbase 616. Please take this time to gather your belongings, and ensure that any travel orders are in hand as you disembark. Thank you."

Roger sighed, and picked up the PADD that was sitting on the table, then his duffel bag that was already packed and ready. Without a look back, he left his guest quarters and made his way to the turbolift, with a handful of other uniformed personnel who were transferring off of the Pompeii.

"Moving Day"Edit

Dr. Lt. Jerry Wolfson

He hated moving in. If it were possible, he'd prefer it if his things would miraculously arrange themselves right where he liked them. Too bad it didn't work like that.

His touched his over-full carry-all with the tip of his shoe and grimaced. It was a fact of life that no matter how much stuff - and this stuff included clothing, the all-important pictures of Kenzie and his family, and various knick-knacks - he thought he had, it multiplied by an astronomical factor once he had to move. He fondly called it Wolfson's Law.

The corollary to said law generally involved his ex wife and her tendency to have taken most of his good stuff for herself. Like his daughter. Though Kenzie would probably kick him if she knew he was thinking about her as 'stuff'. And he'd deserve it.

So, unpacking. He should do it. Needed to do it, actually. Sooner it was done, the less he had to gripe about it. It was just that he didn't really want to bother with it.

Sighing, he knelt and unzipped his carry-all, pulling out the assorted knick-knacks, clothing, and pictures and placing them on his single bed. That counted as unpacking, right?

Right.

At least it was one step further into the process. Leaving the mess on his bed, he turned towards the door. He might as well get the lay of the land first.

++++++++++

The engineer in him still relished the feel of engines thrumming beneath his feet. It gave a ship character, gave it life. Ships like this one had a personality all their own. Yes. He'd do well here, even though his fingers weren't in her engines.

When he stepped through the doors to the recreation deck, he fell in love. It was beautiful. Needed work, of course, but most rec decks did. Best thing for a ship's crew's health was to be able to play hard at the end of the day. Better thing, too, was throwing a good party on the eve of leaving port.

The Constellation threw a good party while he had been there, but he hadn't been in charge of making sure the party went well. He had every intention of making sure this ship had a great departure party.

Mentally checking off a list in his head, he headed towards the medbay. He needed to check in there, find out his duty roster, and determine when he could get on with sorting out the needs for the party.

The medbay was Startfleet-typical. Well-stocked, rather large - but it'd have to be thanks to the size of the Miranda - and full of people who were younger than he was.

He was approached at once by a rather pretty-looking - for a teenage girl - ensign. A nurse, apparently.

"Can I help you -" There was a pause as the ensign read his rank off the bars sewn onto his sleeve "- Lieutenant?"

"Doctor Jerry Wolfson," he said, holding out his hand. "Call me Jerry."

"I'd rather not, sir. You are the ACMO." Factual, this one, wasn't she? He glanced at her ears. Nope. Not pointed.

"Jerry," he repeated, dropping his hand when it became apparent she wasn't going to shake it. "And that's what my orders say. Is the CMO in?"

"Not yet, sir."

There went his cunning plan to learn what shift he was working. "Right. S'pose I'll just wait here, then." Glancing around the room, he spotted one of the few chairs that were set up for waiting patients or friends. He marched over to one of them and took a seat, smiling winningly at the woman.

"You do that, sir," the ensign said.

"Didn't catch your name, Ensign," he commented after a few seconds.

She straightened into regulation at-attention posture. "Ensign Cutter, sir."

"Wouldn't happen to be related to my ex-wife, would you?" he asked.

"Sir?"

He waved her off. "Go back to your duties, Ensign. I'm comfortable here."

"Yes, sir," Cutter replied.

He looked around the tiny seating area for a magazine or a vid. He didn't find anything. Figured. He certainly didn't think much of the recreation chief that'd been here before him. Before he sorted out the problem of the ship's party, he was going to find something to entertain the poor saps who ended up getting stuck sitting here waiting for something or other.

Like himself.

"First Time Jitters"Edit

Lieutenant Kaori Lokai
Ship's Counselor

Counselor Kaori Lokai was very nervous. She had never been on a starship before. She had been stuck on assignment on a starbase only. Now she was assigned to a ship. She had to do a quick study of the ship and where everything was. Talk about nerve wrecking.

On the shuttle with about three others going to the same ship, she observed them on the trip over as she had nothing else better to do. She had realized that anyone of them could one day be her patient. "Wow!" she thought to herself as she smiled widely. She was the Counselor, the Chief Counselor there which meant her own office with no one to share it with. She was ecstatic but she was still very nervous too.

Finally, they arrived. She stepped out and made her way to her quarters. With PADD in hand, she took the turbolift and then onto the desired deck and still following the route she had programed into it, found her quarters and stepped in. Her jaw dropped, "So this is what the Senior Staff rooms looks like." Her quarters were much smaller than this one. In the corner, she spied her crate, the one containing her mother's and father's picture among other things of sentimental value. She didn't have much but it would have to do for now. She figured that the more missions she went on, the more mementos she'd pick up along the way.

Grabbing the PADD she held earlier, she followed next the route she planed to get to her office. Once again, when the door slid open, her jaw dropped. First thing she did was sit in her chair and spin around. She let out the silliest and most juvenile sqeal followed by a school girl giggle.

"Father, look at me now!" Are you proud of me?" She felt sad for a moment but that lasted only for a short time as the excitement built up again. She sat back in her chair andput her feet up on her desk but before she knew it, she was laying on her back and the chair right under her. It had fallen backward with her in it. She got up and looked around, as if she thought that someone had seen her fall. "Note to self, Cannot sit back in chair with feet on desk. Look into requisitioning a new chair." She uprighted it and sat back into it. She sat in front of her computer console to take a look at the psychological profiles of the senior staff. Eventually, they'd all be required to get their annual psyche evaluations.

"Win All Battles"Edit

Lt. JG Aurelia Jaxom

Starbase 616

Aurelia Jaxom was winning the war against her ex-husband.

It didn’t really matter that Jamus, currently toiling in the bowels of the USS Colombia, wasn’t aware there was a war or that engaging in an imaginary war was what her Vulcan professors would have called, at best, unquestionably illogical. She had scored a double hit this week in finding a peach scented perfume in one of the starbase's stores (Jamus hated the smell of peaches) and had managed to keep her temporary quarters aboard the Starbase in a state of pure chaos, something she knew would have driven her anal retentive, neat freak ex-husband stark raving mad.

The thought of his nose wrinkling in disgust, which she knew from experience was not a good look on his normally handsome face, was enough to make her smirk.

As a psychologist, Aurelia knew that her little war had the potential of taking childishness to a whole new level but when she imagined, as she often did, a large scoreboard somewhere out there in the universe, glowing brighter than the stars with AURELIA - 5, JACKASS - 0, she found she didn't really care.

The smirk turned into a full grin.

Still amused, Aurelia opened her schedule for the day. She had another hour before her meeting with the Miranda's Assistant Chief of the Science, followed by an appointment with the head of Counseling, where she figured both would warn her about the difficulties in and expectations for working two departments. She didn't anticipate it to be a problem but of course she would listen and reassure them that she was up to the challenge.

What Aurelia was less than motivated for was the Counseling welcome party taking place later in the afternoon. Aurelia hated parties. She'd go because it would be good to meet her new co-workers and get a feel for the department, plus there was a rumor one of the counselors made a killer egg roll, but she knew she'd leave within an hour. Possibly under twenty minutes if she were really lucky.

The last thing on her schedule was an appointment with an ensign stationed on the Starbase. His regular counselor Ada - a good friend of hers from her University of Betazed days - was out on maternity leave and his new counselor wouldn't be arriving until next week. Aurelia had agreed to meet with him for what Ada called a "psych check" - when the patient wasn't in crisis but benefited from weekly visits. This particular officer had issues with confidence. While she knew one session wouldn't miraculously fix his problems, Aurelia agreed that being there to listen to his concerns would at least be helpful.

But for now she had some time to be pleased with her victory. Aurelia opened the file with a letter to her friend on New Vulcan, the Associate Professor of Psychology.

As a note of posterity, I am obliged to recount my victories for the week ...

Aurelia, remembering his previous reply, narrowed her eyes slightly.

Please keep in mind that praise and encouragement is agreeable in keeping up morale in times of war. Something other than your last response - "I am concerned for your mental health, Aurelia" - would be preferable. Now on to accounts of my valor - I happened upon a vial of perfume the other day ...

She had little doubt that T'Voss found her letters fascinating.

Aurelia finished up her letter and hit send and then looked around the room. It was a shame she had to pack it all up for the Miranda; she'd have to find a new battle tactic since she was sharing quarters there and couldn't in good conscience inflict gross untidiness upon them. She wasn't really worried though. Aurelia could be very clever when she put her mind to it.

She stood up to get ready and then frowned when she couldn't find her boots. She slowly looked over mess she had made.

Aurelia sighed. Sometimes she was a bit too clever.

"Arriving"Edit

Ensign Adan Kador Asst Chief Security Officer
Ensign Steven Russell, Security Officer

Adan materialized on the transporter pad, standard full-sized tour bag of personal belongings slung over his shoulder. It felt good to be back on a starship... like he was doing what he was 'intended' to do. Even if he was some lowly assistant to some as of yet unnamed security chief.

Next to him were two good friends, both previous acquaintances. "Nothing like recycled air in the morning to make you feel alive, eh?"

Gras, a huge, muscle-bound Orion simply smirked. "I prefer the arms of my wife."

Adan avoided the easy joke of 'so does everyone else' and simply shrugged it off.

“Yeah, you would,” Steven said as he stepped off the pad. “You know, I never could figure out… what would cause some mad scientist to come up with the idea of scanning a person’s body, destroying it, and then making an exact copy someplace else? I am always afraid I am going to use one of these and something isn’t going to be created correctly. I swear I lose a cm every time.”

"You're not really destroyed, your body is simply disintegrated under controlled circumstances at the molecular level and your matter is transported in waves through a buffer which feeds an intricate network of sensors and sub-computers which reconstruct you using energy pulses to compensate for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle." Yeah, Adan memorized that little jewel of an explanation back at Roswell. Just saying it often won a guy a free drink. "And you're not shorter... we're just taller."

“Who said anything about height?” Steven smirked. “Okay Mr. Book, what do you know about our new assignment here?”

"Not too much, honestly." Adan lead the trio down the corridor. "Other than the direction to our quarters. She's got a bit of a history to her... exactly what 'kind' of history nobody's said, but it should be an interesting enough ride. I know we've got a full armory available to us, and some internal security upgrades have been made."

Steven’s eyes lit up, “full armory? I may be in love,” he said as they walked out of the transporter room as a stunning LT walked by. “I may like this ship,” he said as he looked down the corridor.

Adan laughed. "We definitely could be worse off for sure. Is Devna joining us for this tour, Gras?"

"No, unfortunately." Gras folded his hands together in front of him as he ducked under a low hanging, exposed maintenance hatch. "She has taken a tour aboard the Galileo. Apparently it is 'the place' for Stellar Cartographers."

Steven grinned, “Lust means you can hunt a little on the side.” The trio entered the turbo lift and started the short ride up, “So who did they bunk you with Gras?”

"A Warrant Officer Kre'zn, an Andorian." The turbolift started humming, depositing them off at the appropriate deck.

"I still can't believe they stuck me with you." Adan smirked. "With your tastes in women, I'll never be able to go into my own room."

“I have good taste! Drunk, and willing is a taste in women!” Steven smirked as the lift stopped at their deck. “And anyway, you have that “musk” of yours I have to deal with!”

"That's called sweat. It happens when you actually work out, or work hard. Lazy ass." He came to a sudden stop, pointing to the room. "This is us. Gras I think you're down the hall."

The Orion nodded. "I guess this means it's time to meet my roommate. Goodluck."

"You too." Adan let the green man pass before opening their doors. "Ahhh, home-sweet home."

Steven nodded to Gras as he left, “you know I always think that guy is going to barf,” Steven smirked. “And they call these quarters? Well at least it is only two of us… maybe sometimes three.”

"Don't start." Adan put his bag down on the 'sofa'... a standard issue Starfleet couch. Black metal framework with gray, duranium colored cushions. Standard issue chic if ever there was one. "Which one of the 31 flavors of protein bar do you want to try tonight?"

“One that wont upset my stomach. You know, you would think they could give us better snacks. Wait a minute… this place has a bar!”

"Not on the first day." Last thing they needed was to have Security's new officers drunk their first day on the job. "Especially not you. Last thing I need to witness is you drunk and singing karaoke again."

“HEY! The singing only happened that one time. I and I am more interested in seeing if that LT would be there,” he grinned.

"She won't be." Adan replied flatly, walking into the bedroom and claiming his bunk. The top as always... for some reason he found it more rejuvenating. "Besides, we have a shift in about ten hours."

“You are not as fun as you were back in boot camp,” Steven said as he moved to the lower bunk. “Aren’t you supposed to be the wilder one? I’m the older one.”

"I tried wild, it almost got me killed." Adan smirked. "Shouldn't you be married off making kids somewhere?"

“Married? Me? Making kids? Maybe in your wet dreams. I really don’t want a kid to turn out like me!

"Wet dreams?" There were so many Terran analogies he was certain he would never understand. Why would one dream about being wet? He shook his head, something telling Adan that he really didn't want to know what his roommate was on about. "Good, the universe can't stand the one it has." He chucked a protein bar towards his roomie. "So anything I should know about you that I didn't find out in training?"

“I’m actually gay and I think I am in love with you…” Steven couldn’t hold the outburst in. “I doubt it!”

Adan shook his head. "This is going to be a 'fun' trip."

"Boarding Procedures"Edit

Roger Vernikoff
Master Warrant Officer, Intelligence Analyst

Docking Area...

While Roger was pleased to be mobile again (back on a Starship), he always hated what he was about to go through: the standard boarding procedures. It could be as simple as a review of his orders and assignment to his quarters, or it could be an entire shakedown, depending on the "Anal Factor" as he liked to joke about it. He should know; he started his career in Security.

He was third in line to check in when he began to take stock of the situation. As he listened, he realized that the Petty Officer who was handling the boarding of personnel fit into the latter category, which was the shakedown. He decided to pre-emptively assign an Anal Factor of 7 (on a 1-10 scale). Then the Crewman who looked fresh out of basic went and his screening went fairly quick. Roger lowered the Anal Factor to 3, giving the "Red Shirt" the benefit of the doubt.

"Hello," he greeted, putting his duffel down.

"Welcome aboard the USS Miranda," the guard replied. "Your orders, please?" Roger handed over his PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders on the PADD and waited as the man read the information on it...then reread it with a cursory glance at Roger...then read it one more time.

"Problem?" Roger asked.

"You are the new Intelligence Analyst?"

"That's what I'm told."

"I see. I'll need you to answer a few questions and then sign an affirmation."

"Sure." Roger raised the A.F. to a 6.

"Any weapons?"

"No."

"Any animals, domesticated, wild, exotic?"

"No."

"Any illicit substances?"

"Nope."

"Any contact, association, or knowledge of illegal activities such as smuggling, illicit trade, terrorist action or actions, etc.?"

Roger smiled. "As far as contact, not within the last year." At this the guard looked up from his list, causing Roger to smile more broadly. "As for association, my brother is a convicted felon, living on a penal colony for the rest of his natural life for human slave trading and smuggling. Being that he is my brother, if that's not the highest form of association, I don't know what is. Concerning knowledge of illegal activities...well that's my job, isn't it?"

The Petty Officer was thunderstruck, remaining silent for a while. Then he composed himself and scanned the rest of the list. Not finding anything in particular that he would really want to know, he handed Roger back his PCS PADD. "You're assigned to double quarters with one Ensign Anthony Kines. I've updated your PADD with the information on which deck you're on." With that he waved Roger on, clearly not wanting to have anything more to do with the Warrant Officer.

Roger strolled through with that smile still plastered on his face.

"Last Night as a Free Man"Edit

Dominic Oreias Aquillo Carneiro

"Ooooohhh, dude!"

His eyes opened at the whine of his friend's voice. Above him hung a chandelier - a very elaborate chandelier. It looked very expensive, even if it was a bit tacky. He was 73% sure it wasn't his.

"Where am I?" his friend creaked, like a very rusty hinge.

He flopped his head over to the side, in what he thought was the direction of the source of his friend's voice. On his cheek he felt a polished cold. Beyond him lay a landscape of cherry. "I think I'm on a table," he offered, as if that were an answer to the question.

Suddenly, his friend's head appeared above the horizon - the ugliest sunrise he had ever witnessed. "Are you still drunk?" his friend asked.

He giggled. "Uh... maybe?"

His friend frowned, a jealous frown. The action seemed to cause him pain. "Oww, my fucking head. Oh, hey! Tequila! That'll help."

"Hey, Jake," he called out sleepily as his friend disappeared from view. "Why is your face all covered in, like, tar or something?"

"Iceman!" Jake shouted back, then immediately followed with, "Oww!"

"What?"

"Iceman," he repeated, much more softly, his face reappearing above the edge of the table. "You said we all had to go by cool nicknames this weekend, Titan," Jake explained, then slapped him.

"Ah! Caralho!" he cursed, suddenly remembering the punishment for using real names. Once he had, the immediate surge of anger returned to the calm drunkenness of before. He sat up on the large table and looked around. They were in a large room. A dining room. He was 84% sure he had never been in here before. Jake, or rather, Iceman, handed him the bottle of tequila. It was nearly empty, but had enough that Titan couldn't finish it off in a single swig. When he handed it back, he saw a large naked woman. He was 97% sure she wasn't his.

"Where are we?" he asked, unable to take his eyes off the magnificent painting.

"That's what I asked," Iceman grumbled. He caught his friend staring and followed his gaze to the painting. "Holy shit!" he marveled, coughing out the tequila. Once he recovered, he continued to stare for a while, tilting his head to the side. "I like the art."

"Aww, you're not the kitchen," a third voice suddenly said. Both Titan and Iceman finally pulled their gaze away from the giant oil painted centerfold to the new person and immediately cringed.

"Dude! What the fuck!" Iceman shouted, and covered his eyes. Or rather, held his head.

The man stared at them for a moment, confused. "What?"

"Dude, GQ! Why are you naked?" Iceman shouted, then immediately followed that with another muted, "Oww! Goddammit!"

"And covered with vomit?" Titan asked.

Titan watched as GQ looked down at himself. It seemed to take several moments for him to process the image he saw. Eventually, he shrugged and scratched at the dried puke. "Why is there a dining room in the garage?" he asked.

Titan and Iceman looked at each other curiously. Titan could tell he was still drunk, so it was entirely reasonable to assume GQ was as well, which was impressive, given the amount of vomit he was covered in. "S'nice car," GQ mumbled.

Iceman turned his head, and Titan followed his friend's gaze to find that yes, indeed, there was a dining room in the garage. Or at least a garage in the dining room. Or, at least a Lamborghini in the dining room through a hole in the wall. "That is a nice car," Titan agreed.

Iceman got up from the ground and stumbled over to the car. Titan tried to follow him, but succeeded only in rolling off the table. "Umph," he groaned as he hit the stone tiled floors. Behind him, GQ marvelled, "Hey, my pants!" and wondered off.

Trying once again to get up, Titan rolled over to the wall and pulled himself up. Suddenly, he found himself face to breast with the naked woman from before. He apologized, and awkwardly patted her on her stomach. She, of course, said nothing. But she offered a very pleasant smile. Eventually, he made his way over to where Iceman stood by the car. His entire backside was covered in black goo. Titan mosyed up by his side as they examined the Lamborghini convertible. It was yellow. "Dude, mane, you drove your car through a wall," Titan said.

"That's not my car, bro," Iceman said.

"Oh," Titan nodded. Then, "Did I drive my car through the wall?"

"You don't drink and drive," Iceman said.

"I do," said a hand waving from the seat of the convertible.

Titan leaned forward to get a closer look. He had never before seen a talking hand. "You drove your car through a wall, Hand."

"Hawk," the hand corrected. "And it's not my car."

"Hawk! Hey!" Titan cooed. He leaned forward to find his friend laying down in the front seat.

Hawk waved again and sat up, looking at the car as if he had never seen it before. "Nice car," he said, then looked up to examine the other two men. To Iceman, he asked, "What happened to you? You look like you fell into a tar pit."

Iceman sighed, "I need a drink."

"I have a joint," Hawk offered, and Iceman immediately thrust out his hand. "Isn't tar flammable?"

"Probably," Titan agreed and looked at Iceman's crude-covered hands. Iceman tsked and put his hands away, giving up on the joint. Titan looked back at Hawk and asked, "Where are we?"

"This ain't your place?" Hawk asked.

Titan shook his head, "We're at a hotel."

"This isn't a hotel. This is a mansion," Hawk said. Titan nodded. "This isn't your mansion?"

Titan shook his head again, and started to tilt dizzily to the side. Iceman held out one of his hands for support. "We're in a hotel."

"He's still drunk," Hawk said to Iceman, to which Iceman replied, "Yes, I know."

"I'm still baked," Hawk replied disinterestedly, and wrapped his hands around the steering wheel of the car, fondling the leather.

It was at this point that GQ wondered past them, now clothed in surprisingly vomit-free slacks, towards the hole in the wall. "Whoa," he said calmly, "We're really high."

"No, just Hawk is high," Titan corrected.

GQ looked back at them with an empty, befuddled stare. "No, like, we're literally really high."

Once again, Titan and Iceman looked at each other curiously, and stumbled over to the hole. Moments later, Hawk climbed out of the convertible and joined them. "Dudes, this isn't a mansion. This is a penthouse," Iceman said, as they all stared down at the ground a good forty or fifty stories below them. Judging by the traffic, it was a relatively busy day, all the way down there. Too bad, none of them knew exactly which day. "Dude! How did we drive through a wall fifty stories off the ground?!"

"I don't know," Titan shrugged. "I'm sure it was awesome," Hawk said. "What the fuck did you assholes do to my house," GQ screamed.

No, not GQ. A fifth person. Curious, Titan couldn't remember a fifth person from... well, from the last time he could remember something. He turned around to see a relatively short, overly groomed man looking extremely unhappy. Behind him, two rather large, under groomed men reached into their pockets and pulled out something shiny. Titan wasn't sure what it was, but he did know it made a really loud bang. Then, a moment later, he found himself on the ground, having been pulled there by Hawk. Suddenly, a moment of clarity hit him, though he wasn't sure why. He looked behind him to see that Iceman had pulled down GQ as well.

Then, there was another two loud bangs. "Holy fuck, man! They're gonna kill us!" Iceman cried. It was then Titan realized the bangs weren't just bangs, they were gun shots. They were being fired at by who ever owned this penthouse. He was clearly not pleased at the window renovations in his dining room. And, they were hiding behind the Lamborghini car door. Before he could speak, he felt motion behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, Titan saw Hawk scrambling into the car. He reached over, and Titan could hear the engine hum slightly as its electric battery was activated. Then Hawk yanked himself back out of the car and started to dig around on the ground. Titan handed him a small but heavy stone statue with pointy ears, as if he knew instinctively what Hawk was looking for, but he had no idea how or why. Hawk took the stature and smiled, and threw it in the car. Then, the car ripped away from them, and sped silently towards the gun shots.

Then, there was another loud bang. Or, really, more of a ker-boom, crunch, cra-cra-crash, shatter shatter. In fact, it wasn't anything like a bang at all. But, there was no time to think about that, apparently, as he was dragged to his feet by Iceman. And, then they were running, through a door, and down a narrow hall, up some stairs, and then through another door. Each of them was dragging the other, like a chain. A retreating chain, running for it's life from people shooting at it with guns. Hawk was in front, then Iceman, then him, and behind him, he was dragging poor GQ, who seemed to have awaken the least of all of them.

"Shit! This is the roof! Why the hell did we run up the stairs!" Iceman shouted. It no longer seemed to be hurting his head. Or, if it did, he no longer seemed to care.

"There!" Titan said, surprising himself. He looked down his own arm to find himself pointing at window washing scaffolding. Soon, he was shoving GQ into the basket and hopping in afterwards. Iceman and Hawk both pushed the basket over the ledge of the building, and then they, too, hopped inside. Titan powered up the electric motor and pressed the down button. With a loud hum, and much cheering on from Iceman, they began to rapidly descend down the side of the building at a breathtaking ten centimeters per second.

"Uh, guys, this isn't working," Hawk said, looking up. Titan and Iceman resisted the urge to look at each other first and instead immediately turned their attention upwards. The two large men with guns were standing at the ledge of the building, looking down on them with a vicious smile. As they pulled their guns forward and took aim, Hawk kicked his foot out and struck the scaffolding motor. "Hold on!"

And then they were descending the building at a much more rapid pace - a horrifying ten meters per second. Perhaps with another per second in there somewhere. Titan couldn't quite remember his high school physics. They were falling really fast, and he was too busy trying to figure out who exactly was screaming like a little girl. Probably him. Definitely Iceman. It sounded like Hawk was laughing, but he was high, so that wasn't too surprising.

Suddenly, GQ crawled over and jerked hard on a lever jutting out from behind the motor. The scaffolding started to scream and squeal, and Titan could smell the smoke of heated metal. In his mouth, he could taste copper, but he was sure that wasn't from the scaffolding directly. Then there was a jerk and half of the basket came to a halt while the other half kept moving. Iceman was suddenly launched up and over the edge. "Jake!" Titan cried out and reached out for his friend. He caught one arm, and Hawk had caught the other.

"OmigodOmigod!IDon'tWannaDie!IDon'tWannaDie!" Iceman was shouting. "Hold still, I can't get a grip," Hawk was shouting. "Nicknames only," GQ was shouting.

Then, GQ slapped him across the face. Titan, shocked by the assault, lost his grip. Iceman swung down, and the motion wrenched his arm from Hawk's hands, too. And then he was gone.

"Jake! Oh my god!" Titan cried out. Then GQ slapped him again. "Caralho! Quit fucking slapping me, boco! Jake's dead!" Then, with a smile, GQ slapped him again.

"I'm okay!"

"What?" Titan asked, and looked over to find Hawk laughing. He leaned over the edge of the basket and looked down. Jake, Iceman, was lying on the pavement below them. Ten feet below them. "Oh god! Ja-- Iceman! I thought you were dead."

"I'm okay," he said quietly.

"How's your head?" Hawk asked.

"Surprisingly okay," Iceman replied.

Then the cops showed up. Titan had never been so happy to hear those sirens before.

++++++++++

"...and then Jake flipped over the side of the basket thing, and we were all like, 'Jaaaake! Nooooo!' And then we were grabbing his arms, and trying to pull him from his certain death, and you fucking slapped me, cara!"

GQ laughed, "Sorry."

"Sorry! You caused him to let me go! I could be dead now because of you, asshole!" Iceman grumbled.

"Man, this is been the best weekend ever," Titan smiled, and leaned back against the disgusting stone wall.

"Does anyone remember why I'm covered in tar?" Iceman asked.

But, before anyone could answer, the jail cell doors slid open. A man in uniform stood at the door and announced, "You four are free to go."

"Really?" Hawk asked.

"Yes," the man said, staring pointedly at Hawk. He did not appear very pleased. "The charges against you have been dropped. You idiots are lucky. Apparently, the owner of the penthouse you destroyed was smuggling Vulcan antiquities."

"Vuclan what?" Hawk asked.

"Antiquities," Iceman repeated. "Old shit. Like, museum shit."

"Oh. That's bad?" Hawk asked.

"Yes," the man grumbled. "That's very bad."

"Why does the Coast Guard care about Vulcan antiquities?" GQ asked.

"I'm not the Coast Guard!" the man shouted. Hawk snickered.

"Excuse me, can you tell me what time it is?" Titan asked. "Fourteen hundred hours," he replied, calming down.

"What time is that?" Iceman asked.

"2:00 PM," Hawk and the man said simultaneously.

"Oh shit! I get married in, like, two hours! We gotta go!" Titan exclaimed, jumping up from the long wooden bench. He turned around and looked at Hawk, "Dude, mane, can you come? I know we just met this weekend, but that was the best time I've ever had. I would love it if you could come to my wedding. You don't need a suit."

"I got a suit," Hawk replied.

"I'm afraid he can't go," the man at the cell door said.

"What? Why not?" Titan asked.

"He was supposed to ship out for duty to a new assignment ten hours ago."

"Dude, Hawk, you're in the Coast Guard?" GQ asked.

Again, Hawk snickered. "No, dammit. Haven't you ever seen a Starfleet uniform," the man yelled, "Starfleet! Not the fucking Coast Guard!"

Hawk smiled and nodded. "Sorry," he said to Titan. "I hope it goes well, though. Thanks for letting tag along with your bachelor party."

"Hey man, us Brazilians gotta stick together," Titan said.

"I'm actually from Titan," Hawk shrugged.

"Dude, you took his nickname," Iceman said.

Titan grinned. "Well, anyways. Good look on your starship or whatever," he said, reaching out to shake his hand. "What's your real name, Hawk?"

"Oreias," he replied. "Dominic Oreias Aquillo Carneiro."

"Fatherly Advice"Edit

Lieutenant Nathan Everett
Chief Tactical Officer, USS Miranda

Rear Admiral Jacob Everett
Starfleet Corps of Engineers, San Francisco

Stardate 2387.520, approx. 0400 hours

It was the insistent beeping that first woke him up. He tried to ignore it, hoping that eventually it would stop and he could return to his slumber, but the beeping continued on, uncaring of his wishes. Finally, he gave up the fight and pushed himself out of bed with a quiet groan. He muttered to himself as he untangled himself from his companion and stepped over to his desk nearby. The computer monitor located on top of the desk was lit up, the screen flashing with the Starfleet delta and the words 'INCOMING COMMUNICATION' scrolling beneath it. Settling into the chair in front of the desk with a sigh, he shook his head and accepted the communication, wondering who the hell could possibly want to talk to him at this hour.

The image on the screen changed to reveal an older man dressed in a Starfleet admiral's uniform. He was sitting down in his office, with the sunny backdrop of San Francisco behind him. As he appeared on the screen, he grinned. "Nathan! It's good to see your smiling face." The admiral blinked. "Well, your face, anyway. What's with the death-stare?"

Nathan Everett rolled his bloodshot eyes. "Uncle Jake," he mumbled in greeting. "What're you doin'?" He ran a hand over his head, unconsciously trying to smooth his hair down, even though it wasn't long enough to be tousled.

"Having lunch," answered Nathan's great-uncle, Rear Admiral Jacob Everett, as if it were obvious. "What are you doing?" Jake had grown up with his mother in San Francisco, and so he lacked the distinctive accent most of their family spoke with.

"Ah was tryin' to sleep," Nathan replied. "It's almost 0400 here."

"Oh." Jake shrugged, and smiled at his grandnephew. "Sorry about that," he added with a shrug. The smile in his eyes belied that he wasn't sorry at all.

Nathan sighed. "What is it?" He tried not to sound annoyed. He loved his uncle to death, but he really wanted to get back to bed. His new CO was due to arrive later in the day, and Nathan wanted to be at his best when he met the man.

"I just thought I'd check in, see how you--" Jake was interrupted by a quiet murmur from Nathan's bed, causing the elder Everett to lift a curious eyebrow. "Who was that?"

"Nobody," Nathan said hurriedly. He turned his monitor at an angle, as if to prevent his uncle from looking at the woman rolling over in his bed. With him gone, she had taken over his share of the covers. "Just someone Ah met durin' dinner tonight."

Jake shook his head. "Nathan, Nathan. When are you going to find a decent woman and settle down?"

"She's a decent woman!" Nathan protested. "Well, technically she's a Trill, but..."

"That's not what I mean," his uncle admonished. "Fancy genes or not, you're not getting any younger."

"Ah get enough of that from mah parents, Uncle Jake; Ah don't need to hear it from you, too," Nathan said defensively. He shook his head and tried to steer the conversation back on topic. "What'd you call me for?"

Jake shrugged easily, letting the prior topic go. "Like I said, I just wanted to check up on you, make sure you were settling in okay on the Miranda."

"Ah guess Ah am," Nathan replied automatically. "Haven't met everyone yet, but Ah've only been here two days, and it's a big ship." His tired brain caught up a second later, and he frowned at his uncle. "Wait, how'd you know 'bout mah new assignment?"

Jake spread his arms innocently. "I'm an admiral, son. We know everything."

Nathan snorted.

His uncle smiled. "Alright, I heard you'd put in for a transfer off the Kumari and found out the Miranda needed a new tactical officer. So, I figured, since I had a little pull with the Old Man--okay, not really, but he seems to tolerate my presence enough not to automatically disregard anything I say to him--I'd put in a good word for my favorite nephew."

"You what?!" Nathan demanded, nearly falling out of his chair. "Why would you do that?"

Jake frowned. "Uh...because the Miranda's a damn good ship, and I want to see my nephew's career last longer than his father's did?"

"Don't you get it, Uncle Jake?" Nathan hissed angrily. The Trill woman murmured again and rolled over in the bed, and Nathan leaned in closer to his computer, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb her. "If the Cap'n finds out about this, he's gonna think Ah only got this gig 'cause Ah've got family in high places!"

"But...you do have family in high places," Jake observed.

Nathan wished he could reach through his monitor, and across the vast nothingness between the Miranda and Earth, and smack his uncle upside the head. "Yeah, but Ah don't want 'em usin' their influence to get me plum assignments lahk this one! You got any idea what everyone'll think of me if they think that's what happened?"

"Relax, kid. Take a deep breath," his uncle replied. "It's the Miranda, not the Enterprise. I don't think people are going to care that your uncle talked to an old friend of his and passed the word along that you might be a good fit on his old boat. It's not like I blackmailed Command into giving you the job." He looked away as a new thought struck him. "Although Admiral Nechayev does owe me a favor, now that I think about it..."

"Yeah, but--" Nathan began.

His uncle interrupted him before he could get much further. "Nathan, listen to me. Starfleet is not the old Royal Navy. You don't get to where you're going because you happen to know the right people--you get there because you earn it. Whatever the Old Man might have said to Captain Elaithin, in the end it's his decision, and he must have been impressed enough by your record to bring you onboard." He smiled. "So stop whining."

"Ah s'pose yer right," Nathan conceded. "Wait, Cap'n Elaithin? Ah thought it was Cap'n Jii."

"He's a Bajoran, Nathan; they write their names backwards," Jake explained.

"Right. Ah've never met a Bajoran before."

"You soon will," Jake pointed out. "So I'd better let you go; best not to meet your new boss looking like you haven't slept in, well, ever."

"You called me, remember," Nathan complained good-naturedly.

His uncle shrugged. "Hey, it's a good thing I did. Otherwise you'd have called your captain by the wrong name and made a complete fool of yourself." He grinned at his nephew. "Take it easy, kid," he added, just before the screen went black, ending the call.

Nathan laughed quietly and shook his head. No matter what kind of mood he was in when he spoke with his uncle, the conversation always ended with Nathan smiling. Jake was the father he'd never had--the father he'd always wanted.

He stood up from his desk and carefully maneuvered his way back into his bed, thankfully drifting back to sleep within moments.

“Big News”Edit

Lt. Jamus Jaxom, Engineering Officer
LtCmdr Sean O’Hanny, Chief Enginner

USS Columbia, 4 weeks ago

Jamus was looking down at the packing crate with all his accumulated tools and gadgets packed into it wondering what he could have possibly done wrong. “I don’t understand.”

Sean O’Hanny, the Columbia’s crusty, veteran chief engineer kept shaking his head. “You don’t get it do ya lad? Yer being promoted. Yer gettin’ yer own ship. Yer own engine room, the whole nine meters.”

Jamus looked from the packing crate to the red-haired man who’d been his mentor and supervisor the last five years. “You mean I’m getting kicked off the Columbia?”

“And it’s about time too!” O’Hanny exclaimed. “You’ve learned everything I can possibly teach ya and more with the way you read through every tech update and manual you can lay your hands on. Look…” O’Hanny pointed his beefy fore finger at the Trill’s temple. “…you’ve got lots and lots of book knowledge up there. It’s time you started using some of it out there on your own.”

“But where?” Jamus asked.

“Ah, I got your marching orders right here.” The older man pulled a PADD from a pocket on the leg of his overalls. “You’re headed for the Miranda,” he read. “I hear she’s a fine ship and just about done with a refit too,” Sean looked at Jamus again, “And I hear she’s getting that new sensor suite we’ve been hearing about. You and do her well ya hear me?”

“Aye aye then,” Jamus fired off a stern salute. “I’ll make ye proud.”

“I know it lad, I know it!” Sean gave his, now former, engineer a heartly slap on the back. "Good luck to ye!"

++++++++++

Present, USS Miranda, Jamus’ quarters

Jamus’ heart was racing the moment he set foot off the shuttle and all the way to his cabin. It was a full half-square meter larger than his quarters on the Columbia. The Miranda was truly a gem of a ship.

Forcing himself to calm down he opened his packing crate and sifted through the contents. He dug out his tool bag and his favorite coveralls. There was no time to unpack the rest, there was work to be done after all!

"Snap! I've Got The Power!"Edit

Lt. Jamus Jaxom, Chief Engineeer
SCPO. Lorelai MacRae, Engineering Systems Specialist
PO3. Bryan Rice, Electricians Mate(NPC)

Main Engineering, USS Miranda

“I think we’re going to have to do something about those circuits, Bryan. The extra drain from the systems might be a bit much for them.” Lorelai said to one of the electrical specialists as the two of them crouched down beside an open panel on the upper level of the warp core gantry.

“Wouldn’t that be more of an ops job?” Asked the electrician.

“Generally, yes,” replied Lorelai, “but as this is the warp-core interface I want to make sure everything coming out of this section is at its optimum. What they do outside of here is their business. Plus, I don’t want anything to compromise the core. We’re running from power from the starbase reactors just now so it’d be the perfect time to get this done. Then we test it before the core comes back online, much easier than having to work on it mid-voyage.”

“Okay, I’ll speak to the guys in ops and make sure they’re happy with the spec before we go ahead. In the interests of good relations.” He said, snapping his tool case closed.

“Wise move.” Said Lorelai as they stood up. She glanced down to the engineering floor and saw an unfamiliar Trill in an officers uniform who seemed to be looking around the section with purpose. She nudged the electrician and nodded towards the officer. “Five’ll get you ten that’s our new chief engineer.”

“I guess you’d better go and say hello then, Senior.” The man replied. “I’ll start work when the ops team are happy.” He said as he turned and walked away.

Lorelai walked toward the ladder at the edge of the upper gantry and began to descend.

Jamus was observing his engineering crew do their work.

Yes, they were his whether or not they realized it yet.

So far he was pleased for the most part. His eyes darted around main engineering looking for anything that might need some of his personal attention. He was eager to get a status update and find out where he could help out. He fully intended to be the chief not afraid to get into the nitty-gritty of keeping a starship operational and at peak efficiency... just like he was taught on the Columbia.

The floorplan was different than Jamus was used to but he was sure he could adapt. He heard footsteps coming towards him and turned to see who it was noting the uniform and rank pips.

Lorelai approached the man. "Lieutenant Jaxom?" She extended her hand. "Welcome to the USS Miranda, it's good to have you here."

Jamus extended his hand as well, "The pleasure mine," he answered cordially. After shaking hands he asked, "You must be Senior Chief MacRae?" Judging from the ship's manifest and the rank pips she was wearing.

"Aye Sir. Senior Chief Lorelai MacRae, engineering systems specialist. A bit of a nebulous title

"Great," he said happy with his deduction, "What's the latest status on the refit?" He was anxious to get his hands on things and pull it ahead of schedule if possible.

'Direct and to the point.' Loreali thought. "If it's okay with you sir, I think we should walk and talk."

"Excellent idea," Jamus agreed. He followed MacRae and keenly watched everything going on as they strolled around the warp core and other equipment.

"The refit is coming along fine, sir. There's the usual logistical problems you get when the refit crews and ships crew are trying to work in the same space. Our main concern down here is making sure the new sensory array interfaces into the EPS. Array systems have come a long way in the last few years. It's a slightly different configuration so we've had to get some extra taps put in." They turned a corner into a small alcove. "The break room...of sorts. We're a long way from the galley down here." She turned to Jamus. "So, where were you before?"

Jamus gave a small smile, "I've been on the Columbia since graduated from the Academy. I've been fortunate to work with a very experienced Chief while aboard her. O'Hanny was one of the crustiest veterans I've ever met. I learned a great deal. Now..." he took another glance around at the activity going on outside the small break alcove, "... I get to use what I've learned and hope to learn a great deal more." He looked right at MacRae now, "If I recall what I've read, you were part of the original build team here?"

Lorelai smiled. "Is that a statement or an accusation?" She laughed.

"Yes," Jamus answered plainly letting the corners of his lips curl slightly upwards.

"You're information is semi-correct, Sir. I wasn't part of the initial build team but I was part of the team that did the ten-year refit - it was actually that project which made me apply for assignment here. That was a little over four years ago." She gesture out towards the warp-core. "That was our big job. The original core was, how can I put it, substandard for a ship of this nature so we gutted the entire thing and started again. This time it's the sensor array. Sensor technology has come a long way in the fourteen years since they built this ship so it was a long overdue move." She began walking again, taking a route around the warp-core column.

"Beautiful," Jamus nodded approvingly, "How many in our department are plank owners?"

Plank owner - the term for original crew, she had to admit it had a been a little while since she'd heard it. She liked the term though, it made her feel like a real original sailor. "Er, nearly one? The crew down here is still quite young to be honest, a large amount of rotation over the years. Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Wickstram, your predecessor, was a plank owner but he resigned his commission when he heard Captain Murdock was leaving. He said something about it being a time of change and a fresh start for the ship. Some of the higher grade petty officers have been around a while longer than me but most of those who started on the ship have either moved on, moved up or been killed in action." She didn't like saying that last part, but it was true. This ship had seen some degree of combat and death in service was always in the back of the minds of everyone in the fleet. whether they admitted it or not.

The Trill lieutenant nodded once more, "Well, I've studied all the schematics and prints I could on this ship still... I hope I don't make too much of a fool of myself while learning my way around."

"I'm sure you'll do fine, Sir. It'll just take some time to settle in, this is my fifth posting in twenty-two years and those first few months are always hard regardless of rank, position or experience." They came to a stop by another door. "I guess this is yours now." She held out her arm in an 'after you' style gesture. The panel next to the door read 'Chief Engineer'.

Jamus looked at the door. "Well then, do you think Commander Wickstram left anything for me?" he asked curiously.

"He was a design engineer so you might find some sketches and schematics in some of the drawers, although he probably took most of it with him. I'm not saying he wasn't hands on but that was where his real strength was, as I saw it anyway. You'll find a locker in there too where you can keep things like this." She tugged on her coveralls. "I assume you've got your own tools but, if you do need any there are plenty in the workshop or you can get them from the stores." She paused. "Sorry, I'm giving the full first day introduction speech, you know all this anyway. So, is there anything else I can help you with to ease you in?"

"Give me chance to go over status reports and find some coveralls," Jamus told her eagerly, "Then you can point in the direction of... what ever needs to be done the most."

"Well then, I'll leave you to it." She looked over her shoulder. "As for what needs to be done...pick something - there's loads to get done." She smiled. "I'm going up to deck fourteen to have a look at the new sensor array, I want to see how it's going with my own eyes."

Jamus nodded, "I'll be there for a look myself soon."

"Wherever I may roam."Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security

Heading into the shared offices for the assistant instructors, Amedea sat down at the desk she shared with Tosek. Not like she kept much here other than her hat when she'd come in and grab when she left for the day. The posting came through, she was now heading off for the Miranda and wherever that one went.

There wasn't time to see about swinging by home to check how Wylli'then was keeping things up and handling the others, but she had confidence in the young Romulan who'd walked into town nearby looking for work. Last word from him was the roof needed some shingling and one of the cows ended up having twins, whereas dear Janella ended up sending about sixty messages stating the same things blow by blow.

It was times like that where Amedea both regretted and welcomed the choice she'd made. She'd done much, could still do more, but things had changed, they'd changed, all of them in more ways than imagined. Some for the good and some for the 'oookay'. All in all, she knew it wouldn't be the first time she'd felt this.

With hat on head, she said her goodbyes and headed to the small apartment that was home for the final look over.

Everything was packed save for some clothes, most marked for shipping back to Mortemonde and Wylli already knew to just move them into storage when they arrived. She didn't envy him that since the storage room was already packed to the gills. When she eventually did make it home for a layover or leave, that was going to be the big project, getting all that in order.

Yet another thing not to look forward to as once she chose her status, everything save a few had to go there since it was all identifiable to who'd she been and that identity was now just consigned to the history teachers back home to ramble on while the children tried to stay awake. While like others, she had been having moments on and off of wanting to be that again. Once she'd lose herself in memory of the good times that went to the bad and worse, then she snapped out of it.

It would've been easier had her highlander lived, but he was long dead and what remained was at the memorial shrine at home and the lock of hair in her mojo pouch around her neck.

Scowling more to herself over the dwelling over the past which was never a good sign to start off on a new journey, she notified 'Fleet services about her bags, and with duffel on shoulder and a sketchpad in hand, she headed off to get some pencils going to clear her mood. The docks were always good for things to sketch.

++++++++++

Feeling rather zen as she shaded the spots on her quickdraw of a passing Trill, a booming roar of a voice hailed her.

"Heyas Big Pussy.", she said as she finished up her sketch idly.

"I heard you werrre shipping out.", the massive Caitian officer said, "You did not think that you could leave without saying goodbye."

"You know me, goodbyes are bad, but see you arounds are better.", she said with a smirk.

"Agrrreed.", Commander Barrakshasa said as he sat next to her, "Academy will be dull without you."

"It's only for now, never know what the future brings."

He nodded and paused, looking around. His tail began to twitch impishly and she saw the motion out of the corner of her eye.

"Whatever it is, no.", she said as she put her book and pencil away.

"One last time...", he said in a near purr, "Orrr..morrre prrroperrrly, until we have a chance again."

"No.", Amedea said as she stood up, slowly adjusting her duffle for better stability and begining a few initial stretches.

"You say no...but yourrr body and scent...says yes...", he purred louder. green eyes gleaming.

"Serious. We're not cadets anymore. We've got ranks, responsibilities...there's that setting an example shit."

"Trrrue...but..."

"No buts, or...well...not in public."

"Rrreally now....that is not the Amedea I've come to know so well...."

"Serious as dead-death. No."

He leaned back, sniffing as if he'd been offended, tail still twitching, "Of all the things I've come to expect from you, excitement, energy, passion...neverrr was it rrrespectability."

"Well, yeah, there you go.", she said, arms folded across her chest.

"Pity, you werrre once morrre fun."

"Oh...be that way...", she said, then suddenly darted off with a dual throated cackle.

His roar of laughter joined hers as they took off on one more impromptu parkour run through the bustling port, bounding and jumping with ease around and over obstacles and people and sending some alarm to the security present until they recognized the top two runners of the '81 graduating class still acting like a pair of goofy cadets.

Yes, it was impetuous, reckless and madcap, but what better way to start off a new journey to see where things took her now.

"Welcome Aboard"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Commander Joral Anton
Lt. Commander Cheyenne Summers
Lt. Commander K Jordan Lankin


Jordan clapped Titan on the arm and shoulder before shoving away from her and weaving through the crowd toward Cheyenne Summers.

"So, my dress uniform is about three sizes too big, I have no idea what happened," the intelligence operative complained in a low voice as she came up behind the Miranda's second officer, who waited patiently for the new captain's appearance. Summers was the only member of the Miranda's traditional senior staff to be staying on, and Jordan was thankful she was. "I think I might have gotten someone else's jacket by mistake -- it feels like I'm wearing a tent. I'm worried that if I button it, I'll never find my way out again."

Cheyenne smiled, smoothing her own jacket down her stomach. She looked down at the much more diminutive intelligence officer from her own somewhat lofty height of 1.78 meters and her smile grew into a grin. It did look as though Jordan had borrowed her mother's clothes and was playing dress up. The effect was somewhat comical, and probably accounted for the scowl on Jordan's face. She stepped behind Jordan, motioning for her to go ahead and button up the jacket. As she did so, Cheyenne tucked, rolled and pulled, finally pulling a bobby pin out of her hair and securing the jacket in back. "Okay, don't move around too much, but at least now it doesn't look like you grabbed your boyfriend's jacket off his floor on the way here. Er... you didn't, did you?" Cheyenne elbowed her friend in the side before moving back to her position at the head of the company.

Jordan was about to respond when the boatswain's call sounded. Glancing toward the shuttle's now open doors, the two women watched Elaithin Jii step out and in unison with every other officer gather in the great shuttle bay, they immediately snapped to attention. A moment later, Joral Anton appeared, coming from another shuttle, presumably.

The sight of the two Bajoran men standing before the shuttle created a hollow feeling in Jordan's throat.

Elaithin Jii looked familiar. Jordan couldn't shake the feeling that they'd met before, though searching her usually crystal clear memory she came up with nothing more than a vague impression. It would become clearer, she had faith in that, but when was anyone's guess. It had likely been nothing more than a cursory passing, and she'd probably been undercover at the time.

But Joral Anton she recognized clearly and instantly. Her trial was the first instance to come to mind, though there were certainly other moments. His was one of the few testimonies allowed before the admiral stepped in (or at least, that's what she imagined had happened, Murdock had never confirmed anything one way or another; all she knew was it wasn't looking good for a while and then suddenly, the case against her was dismissed). But this meant that Joral had records, knowledge, and while he was restricted by numerous confidentiality orders not to mention code-word clearance, Jordan couldn't help the anxious wave that crashed over her.

Joral didn't look like much -- he was tall and lanky, perhaps attractive but in a strange, angular, almost mousy sort of way, like he needed to gain thirty pounds immediately. Next to Elaithin, this was only accentuated -- the Miranda's new captain wasn't much taller than the first officer, maybe only an inch or two, but he was more solid, more muscular, looked like he could actually do damage if he needed to.

"Well," Jordan said in a low murmur. "At least my intelligence was accurate -- he does, indeed, have a very nice ass."

Cheyenne snorted faintly, with the side of her mouth quirking up into what might be called a smile. Keeping her husband firmly at the forefront of her mind, Cheyenne nodded as she agreed with Jordan's assessment. It was always nice when the captain was eye candy. Made the trips seem to go just a little bit faster. It had been a while since she'd had a CO with a nice ass, though. The comment was pitched low enough that it probably went unheard by anyone in the surrounding company other than herself, but you never knew. She dropped the smile, however faint it may have been, from her face and shook her head slightly at Jordan.

Jordan chuckled under her breath and stepped forward, following the commander as the tall red-haired woman stepped forward to greet the captain and first officer with a firm handshake and a smile.

++++++++++

"Commander Summers?" Elaithin asked as the redhead lead the party of Miranda's senior officers presently aboard to greet him. She responded with a crisp salute and Jii returned it. "Permission to come aboard?"

"Permission granted, Captain Elaithin," Cheyenne replied automatically, completing the time-honored ritual.

Elaithin nodded again, and dropped the rucksack he was holding to the deck. He assumed a more "official" mien, and produced a padd from the pocket of his uniform jacket. At this, the bosun's whistle sounded again, and all hands across the ship deck immediately snapped to attention as it was sound was piped to every room and crawlspace aboardship. The silence within the shuttlebay was very nearly deafening as all motion within the room stopped as the speakers picked up Elaithin's voice as he spoke up to officially take command of the Miranda.

"All hands, now hear this," the new captain called. "To Captain Elaithin Jii: By order of Starfleet Command, you are hereby requested and required to proceed to Starbase 616 and assume command of Starship U.S.S. Miranda, NCC-77000, as of Stardate 2387.505. Signed, Fleet Admiral Victor Murdock." The words sent a bit of a thrill through the Bajoran - again, as they would any officer. All of this ceremony was rooted in history, and came as naturally to command-track officers as breathing. It was, after all, the moment they looked forward to their entire careers. Command - and not just any command, but command of a starship. Elaithin's blue eyes met Summers' green ones as he finished the words. "I relieve you, 'Commander."

"I stand relieved," Cheyenne answered promptly, knowing her part of the script as well as any other officer. "Welcome aboard the Miranda, Captain."

"Thank you, 'Commander," he replied, and raised his voice once more. "All hands, as you were."

The near-frenetic level of activity on the shuttlebay deck resumed, and the officers and senior crew nearby relaxed from their positions.

"Captain," Cheyenne began, indicating the woman on her left. "May I introduce you to Lt. Commander Jordan Lankin, your chief intelligence officer on board?"

"'Commander Lankin," Elaithin nodded, taking the woman's hand. There was a brief flicker in his eyes as the name registered, and Jii realized that he’d never looked into what had become of her after the Federation Day Trials. Belatedly, he realized that the Old Man must have taken her in, given her a home here on the Miranda.

Well, if she was good enough for Victor Murdock, she was damned well good enough for Elaithin Jii. “A pleasure,” he finished.

"Captain Elaithin," she replied with a nod and a firm shake. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"I apologize that I don't have more introductions for you, sir," Cheyenne continued, "but I'm afraid the rest of your senior officers either aren't aboard or haven't checked in yet."

"In the middle of a refit, that's not really a surprise, 'Commander," Jii grinned. A small cough came from behind him, and he stopped. "Oh yes, 'Commander Summers, 'Commander Lankin, may I introduce the exec? This is Commander Joral Anton. Prophets only know why I agreed to take him on, but he's here, so we may as well make use of him."

"Take me on?" Joral muttered. "You made me come."

Cheyenne turned towards the new exec, saluting him swiftly. After he returned the salute languidly, she reached her hand out towards him, shaking his briefly. "Pleasure to meet you, Commander."

Joral took Commander Summers' hand with a cordial expression, which froze on his face as soon as his mind fully registered the name of the shorter of the two female officers. Retaining his facial expression, he asked, "Commander, could you pardon us for just a moment?"

As Summers and Lankin shared a brief glance, Joral looked at Elaithin and motioned towards the shuttle with his eyes. When the other joined him, the Executive Officer, whispered, "Jii, what the hell is that woman doing here?"

"Summers?" Jii asked with raised eyebrows. "She's the SO. The person who gets your job if you screw it up. Or... did you mean Lankin?"

"Yes, I mean Lankin!" Joral ran a hand through his hair, trying his best not to look too frustrated. "Look Jii, I know the Old Man has a soft spot for her, and I've seen enough data to convince even me that she was on our side, even if I still think it was for her own reasons. But for Prophets' sake, that woman tried to kill me, dammit!"

"She’s hardly the first," the Captain said, clearly fighting back a smile. “And I doubt she’ll be the last. I tried to kill you a time or two.”

"Oh don't start," the XO replied. "When we were kids doesn’t count anyway. Just… don't be surprised if one of us has an airlock accident."

"The past is past, Anton. And unless you want to slingshot around a star or the Orb of Time grants you a trip, it's going to stay that way," Jii replied seriously. “And if anyone has an airlock incident, it had best well be the both of you. Clear?”

"Clear. But you may want to tell her that." The younger Bajoran glanced over at the two women still watching them. "And besides, the Orb of Wisdom was pretty damn nice to me..."

++++++++++

As the two ranking officers stepped aside for their brief whispered conference, shooting glances over their way, Cheyenne leaned towards Jordan.

"What the hell was that about?" she asked. XOs didn't usually freeze at the sight of a senior staff officer. Obviously there was something there between the two of them, but Jordan's face gave nothing away.

"I am just so damn pretty," Jordan deadpanned, shifting her gaze up the few inches between them, raising an eyebrow with Vulcan precision. Her lips betrayed the ghost of a smile as she turned her attention back toward the two men whose conversation seemed to be tapering off. "And we're back folks..." She smiled at the men brightly, turning on the rare but very real warmth of which she was (perhaps unbelievably) capable. "It's always nice to put living faces to names. Or holographic projections." She glanced at Joral. "It's been a while, Joral. Have you lost weight?"

"No... my weight has remained the same," the XO replied, noting with satisfaction the mild response the veiled insult received. "You looking quite healthy, Lankin. Picking at bones is clearly working for you."

"Huh. The news media had me thinking I *was* the bones." She cocked her head slightly. "Guess it goes to show you shouldn't believe everything you see on vid-castings, right? And I am *quite* healthy these days, thank you for noticing." She smiled again, blinking once before she looked to Elaithin. "Captain, I have to apologize. The Commander and I have had a somewhat unique relationship to say the least. Being the... hero of Federation Day, I'm sure you've heard a little bit about it, right?"

Jordan ignored the sharp nudge of Cheyenne's elbow in her ribcage.

Elaithin coughed slightly at that. Oh, this is going to be interesting. In the Romulan sense of the word, he thought. "Right. I believe a tour is customary, 'Commander Summers?"

"Right this way, sir."

"Common Ground"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Dr. Robert West

Robert's arrival on the ship had come without much fanfare, not that he would have noticed. The usual hustle and bustle of a ship getting ready to leave port was simple background noise to him. The only thing he was interested in, currently, was familiarizing himself with his sickbay.

He had to admit, the thought of it being *his* sickbay was quite appealing, considering he never expected to leave Starbase One and the Pathology department there. Truth be told, he was surprised he had been assigned to the Miranda. It had come on so suddenly and without much warning. Captains coming into new commands were usually given their choice of senior staff officers, so he had no idea why Jii had asked for him. Just another question to file away for a later time. Right now, *finding* sickbay amid the chaos was a much more important task.

Unbeknowst to the good doctor, of course, was the fact that the man on who his thoughts at least partially centered was walking nearby. "Doctor West?" an unfamiliar voice called out.

Robert stopped in his tracks; the unexpected voice has knocked him out of his own stream of thought, and momentarily confused him. He looked about with an odd expression on his face as he attempted to locate the source of the voice amongst the throng. He finally laid eyes on it.

If his study of the manifest wasn't in error, he was about to meet Elaithin Jii, the man who mysteriously requested his presence on board the Miranda. "Um....hi?" Robert managed after a moment (he was still a bit out of it), "I mean, Captain? Uh...sir?"

The Bajoran officer smiled in what Robert recognized, with his keen observation skills, as an amused manner. "I thought it was you, Doctor. Yes, I'm Captain Elaithin. Pleased to meet you," he said, offering a hand.

The doctor studied the hand for a moment, and seemed to find himself. Suddenly, he was full of life. "Captain!QuiteAPleasureToMeetYouIWasWonderingWhenIMightGetAChanceToTouchBaseWithYouAboutTheAssignmentIHaveSomeQuestionsThatI'dLikeAnsweredIfPossibleAboutHowThisCameAboutItReallyTookMeBySurpriseToTellYouTheTruthINeverThoughtI'dBeOnAStarshipItIsQuiteAChangeOfPaceFor...."

The Captain's expression very quickly shifted to an expression of astonishment as Robert pumped his hand with an almost forceful eagerness.

"Uh... come again?"

Once again, Robert was thrown off his game, reverting to a more deliberate (and slow) style of speech. "Ah...I'm sorry...sir. Sometimes I get...well...a little carried away with...things." he apologized, releasing Jii's hand.

"That's uh, that's all right, Doctor," the Captain replied, and began to massage his hand. Robert skillfully pretended not to notice. "Perhaps we could continue this in Sickbay? I'd just as soon get my physical done now rather than have you badger me about it."

Robert's expression brightened again, "AhYesThatSoundsPerfectWeCanGetThatOutOfTheWayRight...." Robert wasn't sure, but he thought he heard a heavy sigh as the Captain followed him.

++++++++++

Not too terribly long later, they had found sickbay and finished the routine physical. Truth be told, West was rather proud of himself for restraining the rest of his questions that long. Perhaps he hadn't done the best job hiding it, however, because the Captain soon remarked on it.

"I think you said earlier that you had some questions, Doctor?"

Robert, determined not to allow the conversation to spiral out of control, talked with what sounded like heavy restraint in his voice.

"Yes...sir. I think...I think the most *pressing* question is...well, if you don't mind...my asking of course...but I think Starfleet Medical thinks...thinks you're insane for having me...as your CMO." the doctor managed in his newly-found casual(ish) voice.

"So...I can't help...but wonder....why, exactly, am I here?"

"Oh, well that's fairly simple," the Captain replied with a wave of his hand.

"It is?"

"Yes, Commander Joral - my first officer - recommended you. He said you treated him once, and you made an impression. He thought that you were probably the best Doctor in the Fleet."

Robert thought for a moment, and then he did something that he hardly ever did. Something he hadn't done in ages.

He laughed.

"Sir...I...I'm sorry. While I don't recall....Commander Joral's visit....I can't help but wonder...well....sir...have you looked at my...transcript from Starfleet Medical?" the doctor stifled his outburst.

"I have," the Captain replied, and his expression grew solemn. "And I'm aware you have some... issues. But examining your record, you truly are one of the best doctors in this fleet. And I expect we'll be visiting some interesting places, Doctor West. A man with your... unique perspective could be very useful."

Robert straightened as if on instinct, and when he spoke, he sounded almost forceful.

"Make no mistake, Captain," he began the pauses in his conversation suddenly absent, "I know my work. I love my work. And I will swear by my work on all levels. Let's just say sometimes I have...well..."patient relation" issues."

"That's all right. There are times I have "doctor relation" issues. Counselors, for example."

"Counselors?"

"Can't stand 'em," the Captain replied.

Robert laughed again, a feat so remarkable that had anyone been around who could have appreciated the unprecedented nature of the event; they would have recorded it in the annals of history as a monumental occasion.

"I think...sir...that we have some...common ground."

The Captain smiled that time, and reached forward to clap Robert on the shoulder (who couldn't stop himself from jumping a little at the sudden contact.) "It's a start."

“I Know What I'm Here For”Edit

SCPO. Lorelai MacRae, Engineering Systems Specialist
Cmn. Maria Griffin, Fabrication Technician (NPC)

Fabrication Workshop, Engineering Section, USS Miranda

Lorelai was still in the main section of engineering and, despite it still being early, and the place was already hotbed of activity – the perils of working around the clock. The refit on the sensor array was taking up a lot of resources in the workshop and she had to wonder if, when she was doing refits and construction back at Utopia, she had got under the feet of the ships’ crews as much as the Starbase engineers were getting under hers.

It wouldn't be so bad but, seeing as she'd be one of those who'd have to make the repairs if it went wrong, she felt she should be taking an active role in its installation. This made it a much more present problem in her mind.

So here she was, in fact it was more or less the same position she'd been in twenty-two years ago, working in the workshop. The big difference this time was that she was watching other people at work, while singing quietly along to a tune playing around in her head.

“Drove downtown in the rain, nine-thirty on a Tuesday – just to check out the late night recor…” She stopped mid-flow, her eyes drawn to a young crewman working on a cutter. It looked like she was cutting some insulation trunking for the new EPS taps.

"Watch that cut, apprentice." She said walking over. She looked down at the ducting and then leaned down looking along the line of the cut-edge. "It's not straight." She said.

"Awww, hell!" The young woman said in frustration, banging her hands on the bench. "I'm sorry, it's just..." She choked back her words. “…it’s just too damn hard!”

“As the Dabo-girl said to the Vedek?” Lorelai replied with a look of sympathy. The crewman smiled at that, but it was a forced smile. The kind that you might make at a funeral or after failing the biggest exam of your life. You feel you should show appreciation for the attempt to cheer you up – even though inside you just want to burst into tears and let the world end around you.

Lorelai put a hand on the young girl's shoulder and looked at her, she couldn't have been older than eighteen and she was on the verge of tears. "Hey, don't worry. It's not the end of the world." She paused. "What's your name, hen?"

"Hen?” The young engineer asked, wiping her eyes.

Lorelai looked confused and then realized what she had said. “Sorry, my native tongue giving me away, it means girl. Not in an offensive way, quite the opposite in fact.”

The girl sniffed a tear back. “Maria Griffin, Senior Chief."

"I’m guessing this is your first assignment Maria?"

She nodded. "Probably my last at this rate." She replied.

"We'll have no more talk like that. How long have you been out of basic, three weeks? Two weeks to get out here so you've been on duty for a few days tops?” Maria nodded. “Three weeks into a two year apprenticeship, you can't make your mind up that fast." She picked up the trunking. "I started out in fabrication and remember being just like this - unsure, worried that you'd get yelled at for doing a bad job, am I close?"

"Yeah...I guess so. I just...I just don't want to blow it so soon. You see all these guys in the shipyards doing what they do, big important projects, and I want that to be me some day."

"It can be." Said Lorelai. “But you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run." Lorelai tapped her rank insignia on the collar of her undershirt. “See that, including basic it took me fifteen years to get Chief, another four to make Senior. Yes, at times it was tough but you can do it. You made it out of basic so now you have to start learning again.” Lorelai looked down the uneven segment. “I remember when I started, getting used to working with an established crew and fitting in, it's hard, I know that. You feel like the pressure is on and you have to perform. So, you get nervous, you're always on edge, you rush and that's when mistakes seep in."

“I'm just not sure this is what I want to do, Senior.” Maria said.

“Well, the only person who can make that decision is you.” Lorelai replied. “This is a good place to learn though and with the large crew change there are going to be plenty of others in the same situation as you. I'm not going to loose my temper with you, if you were a PO-three I might...but not with an apprentice. All you need is a little practice.” She pointed over to a pile of material in the corner of the workshop. "Feel free to use the sprue and off-cuts, it'll only be going for reclamation."

She took the trunking in her hand and placed it on the cutter. "Now, slow, even movement. No rush." She stood behind her and took Maria's wrists in her hands, guiding them along. The cutter ran through the trunk like it wasn't even there. "Just like that. Now, you try."

Maria took another and ran it on her own, slower than she had been before. Lorelai watched her all the way and, when the off-cut fell, she looked down the line of the edge. "A perfect cut." She handed her the next piece. "That's all it needs, less nerves and a little more practice."

“Thanks, Senior.” Maria said, smiling. Lorelai thought it was strange that cutting a piece of metal could cause someone so much pleasure – then she realized that it wasn't strange at all – it was the same look that all engineers got, the look of satisfaction on a job well done.

“No problem, Crewman. It's what I'm here for.” Lorelai said. “When these are done you should take them up the deck fifteen so they can get them installed.”

“Understood, Senior...and thank you again.” Maria said, setting the cutter for the next piece, looking more focused now.

Lorelai nodded and left the young apprentice to it; It was the old tortoise and the hare story - slow and steady wins the race. She'd be okay, given a little time.

'Speaking of time.' Lorelai thought to herself. 'I need to go and see how much is left to do on that array.'

"New Directions"Edit

CPO Joseph Greene
Master-at-Arms

Lt Adan Kadoor
Chief of Security

As he sat in the bar on Earth with a cold beer in his hand the people watching was it's usual traffic of humanity, some more appealing then others, but generally the group was academy cadets who seemed to be more interested in the idle gossip of the Academy and less in the work necessary to be Starfleet officers, at least for this point it was to be expected.

Joe however had some time off, with family and colleagues before shipping out and figuring out on a new type of ship, this one was the USS Miranda.

More things changed, he thought, as he finished his beverage. When he was that age he thought he knew everything hell half of the time he wondered more about his stupidity.

But that was the past, and he had to look foreward.

He had paid the bill but he had some spare latinum from the last poker game he was in so he left a couple slips for the waitress and walked off.

-Starbase 616-

The trip had been a long one, not quite the ass end of space as it was known but you could see it from there.

THe base itself was bustling with crew moving off and on, Joe had taken the time to actually get IN uniform so people who knew better gave him a bit more berth, while some of the Academy cadets who were still learning seemed to be more nervous like lost puppies.

It was funny really those cocky kids he saw in San Fran were suddenly looking like they'd piss themselves if he looked at them crosseyed.

Moving through to the transporter room he waited his turn as crowd thinned. Soon it was his turn.

Adan had received word that their Master at Arms was ready to arrive. With nothing else to do, he figured it a good idea to welcome the guy aboard. After all they'd be working pretty closely together, and when it came to security operations you needed a sense of community.

When the doors to the transporter room opened, he caught the blue haze of a transport in progress. "Welcome aboard the Miranda, Chief."

"Good to be here sir." Joe stepped off, saluted the Federation Ensign then turned, "Permission to board sir."

"Permission granted." He extended his hand. "Lieutenant Adan Kador, Chief of Security. I hear you're our new Master at Arms?"

"'Yes sir." He shook his hand, "Joseph Greene." After the hand shake he handed his order padd, "Guess we'll be working together."

"Certainly looks like it. You'll be happy with the staff we have so far, pretty professional group. Lieutenant Sinistrati is the second in command so far, have you met anyone from the guard detachment yet?"

"Not yet sir. I'm sure we'll get acquainted real fast." Then he paused, "Lt Sinistrari, Dark hair, skull piercing?"

"That's her." Adan remembered the unique features easily, they weren't things easily forgotten, especially when compared to the blonde hair and blue eyes of Erlena. He smiled. "I think you'll like it here. I take it you and the Lieutenant have met?"

"Yes we worked together on Starbase 120."

"Good assignment?"

"Yes, Starbases are a different place to work, especially a trading hub like that one."

"Good to hear it. Hope you don't have too much trouble adjusting to a starship assignment though." He lead the Chief into the security center. "This is the brains of the operations so to speak. Dispatch terminal, waiting room, interrogation room, the basics. Armory is through that door, and the brig is further away updeck, but close enough at hand. Have you had a chance to set up shop at home yet?"

"Just stepped off, going to locate the goat locker next and find quarters." Joe looked around, this was a very well designed facility, "But an intital tour is very good."

"Well there's not much more to show. Like most starships, Miranda's security features are mostly automated. Our physical security experts can give you the run down of what those include, but you're probably already familiar with the standard fare. Forcefields, internal sensor grids, the works. Have you met anyone else from security at all, barring Lieutenant Sinistrari and myself?"

"I've been traveling from Earth for the last couple days, it's been a bit hectic I was going to meet the crew as soon as I could, but I suppose I will."

"Nah, settle in first." Adan shrugged. "They'll still be here when you're done. Like I said it's a pretty solid group. Good qualifications... why don't you settle in and if you have any questions, we'll meet up later. I'm thinking a night of drinks before we move out might be in order."

"Sounds like a good idea sir, always a good way to get to know your colleagues."

"Absolutely." Adan clapped the Chief on his shoulder. "Good to have you aboard. I'll let you know when we head back to the base."

"Good to be here sir." Joe shouldered his duffle again and headed for the hang all this e door now he needed a place to set his stuff.

"Bunking In"Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security
Lt. JG Samantha Hendershaw, Sciences (NPC)

In her quarters, Samantha was playing her music a little too loud having gotten checked in and was unpacking her stuff, it wasn't a lot but sadly it made the room look like a small hurricane had hit as she prioritized what went where tossing things in drawers.

All the while her back was to the door and she was letting the loud rock music play as she worked.

After checking in with the officer on deck that she arrived at least, Amedea headed to her room assignment. Mostly she hoped her roommate wouldn't be one of the psionics, things never boded well between her people and them since pretty much any besides Vulcans and Romulans really were too sensitive for the innate aggression of her kind.

The door swished open and Amedea was welcomed to one of her own's version of something probably Metallica. Couldn't mistake that playing as if hell itself was at one's ass roar.

Samantha tossed some clothing on one of the beds then turned, "Oh....hey."

"Looks like we're sharing.", Amedea said as she tossed her hat over to a table and unzipped her bag.

"Cool." As more clothing dissapeared she flopped on the bed, "So what do they call you?"

"Amedea.", she said as she set aside sketchbooks, semi folded clothes and a tightly wrapped bundle.

"Samantha, Friends call me Sammy usually." She extended her hand.

The corner of her mouth twitched, but Amedea turned around and returned the handshake firmly, "Nice to meet you and hopefully I won't get on your nerves too much."

"Can't be too bad... I mean as long as my music won't drive you insane." She paused and studied the skull, "Damn that had to hurt."

"Hurt, meh. But it did make for my first day at Academy a going in with two blackened and bloody eyes."

"I would say so, that just looks painful, but..." She shrugged, "I've seen other folks with that, a science guy at my last posting and couple of ops folks."

"There's not a huge amount of us in the 'Fleet, but there's a goodly number that we don't stick out badly.", Amedea said, "But over time, that'll change."

"Cool." She replied the subject seemed to be dropped, "Hope the music ain't too loud I forget sometimes."

"It's loud only if it leaves my ears ringing for a week straight.", Amedea said, "But then, I can still read lips with some luck."

"Ok I think we'll get on fine then."

"Should warn you.", Amedea said as she resumed putting things away and eyeballing a small table off on what was looking like her side of things, "I keep odd hours, but I tend to be quiet. And if you're going to have company, let me know and I'll make myself scarce."

"I'm occasionally quiet, will keep to my self, and if you have company same thing applies." She was relaxed, "Though if we both have company, we'll figure something out."

"Won't have to.", Amedea said as she looked more at the table, "I keep to myself." She paused before going on, "You want that table?"

"Wasn't planning on it you need it for something?"

"Like to."

"Ok cool have at it." She went back to unpacking, then she looked over

Amedea carefully unwrapped the bundle, revealing a foot tall statue of a serene skeletal figure clad in azure robes. She set the statue on the table, setting up a few artificial flowers at it's feet, and a few small hand done sketches of people. Last thing added was a small faux candle.

Her curiousity got the better of her and she moved closer, "What's that?" She asked before she could stop herself.

"She's Sweet Death.", Amedea said as she fished out a rosary of skulls and draped it carefully around the statue's shoulders, "She waits for us when we die, guides us to the Gates of Death to make sure we meet up with our loved ones who went on before us. Also keeps them company until we get over there too."

"Ahh." She looked at the sketches, "You draw these?"

"Yep.", Amedea said as she took out another one of a couple, by the resemblance, her parents, "All from memory."

"Well they're very good, you got a hell of a memory."

"At times, I wish I didn't.", Amedea said with a smirk, "I also paint, but didn't have the travel room for my canvases, sent those home."

"I'm not that artistic but I can cook, need to get access to an oven and let it go."

That made Amedea's eyebrows twitch briefly as it brought up something she'd forgotten, "Something that slipped my mind, don't care of you sneak something in to cook with or food here, but check with me on anything of mine since we tend to sometimes eat things most consider spoiled or on the way to rot."

That got a laugh, "Well I appreciate the advance warning as opposed to letting me find out on my own, though it would keep your roomate from stealing your care packages."

"It's a taste thing.", Amedea smirked as she went back to putting clothes away, "All the plenty around us and damn if sometimes you find you really crave a spoiled salami sandwich with a dash of mold."

"To each their own I guess, mom always told me it takes all kinds of folks."

"There is that.", Amedea said as she got the last of her clothes put away, mostly uniforms and a couple sets of civilian clothes that looked well worn and patched with thick embroidery. She set her sketchbooks atop a small set of shelving with the pencils.

Once their room was tidied as best they could Samantha leaned on her bed, "No clue who else we'll get."

"We'll see.", Amedea replied, "Really doesn't matter to me."

She nodded, "Well You hungry?"

"Not particularly, but I can shuffle around to get an idea on things since I've got time before I have to go official on."

"Ok then." She shrugged, "I think I'm due in a couple hours or so, I'll see you later then."

"Will do.", Amedea said.

"Meeting one's posse"Edit

Lt. Adan Kador, Chief of Security
Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security Officer

The check in the armory wasn't too bad. Yes they didn't have nearly enough in terms of spares, but at the same time they were still in dock and could probably get quite a bit yet.

Adan was about to submit the supply requisition forms to Starbase 616's Logistics manager when he caught out of the corner of his eye someone walk into the office. Seriously... were there 'really' issues this early? "Welcome to security, how can I help you?"

After having bunked in, Amedea decided to just go check in since she still had that report for physical and all still left to do. While she'd never seen one like her addressor before, his uniqueness did make her want to run back to her quarters for the sketchbook.

But that was for some other time. Work was work after all while she chose this.

"Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, reporting in ready for whatever.", she said with a polite nod, the lights glinting off her status studding.

"Take a seat Lieutenant." Adan gave a respectful smile back before going for her profile on the computer. His staff was still in the process of reporting in, so it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. "I see you come to us from the Mortemonde school... what made you chose security Lieutenant?"

Seeming to look inward as if to find a way to phrase things, she took a breath, "It's the closest to what I know best and can do pretty much in my sleep."

"Always a good reason." He gave a quick nod, scrolling a little down. "178 reprimands... impressive. Someone at the academy hate you or something?" They were minor infractions at best, and completely offset by her action on the Antares, but in his experience Adan had known those questions like that gave you the best perspective on someone's character.

"Well...that was kinda...wasn't anything I was really looking into...but it pretty much started early on at Academy when I was running late for a theory class. With my people, you have to get somewhere in a hurry, you do whatever it takes. So, I was hauling tetas running, jumping over anything in the way...partially sprinted up a wall, flipped over a balcony. Got to class in time, but the captain of the parkour team saw me on the run and wouldn't leave me alone 'till I joined. Since I was on the team, have to keep in shape so I just toreass around campus like that...and some more...stumpish types felt it was a disturbance...even with how many trophies we raked in.", she said as she ran a hand through her hair.

He chuckled. She was definitely full of... what was the Terran term? Apoxy? Yeah, apoxy. "Well I'm sure they have their reasons... whatever they were. You came highly recommended I see, from the Antares?"

"Been there, been on 'base 120...and did some time as assistant instructor at the Academy in survival training.", Amedea said with a smirk, "Still plenty for me to see in 'fleet."

"I couldn't agree more, and judging from things I'm glad you're here." He shut the console off. "I'll be straight forward with you, until about... eight hours ago, I was an Ensign and assigned as Assistant Chief. We were expecting Command to assign a Chief... that never happened, so we all got bumped up a notch. Though I'm Chief, you technically have more seniority. I'm going to be looking to you for advice on leadership in all likelihood. That said, I've done my time in the Corps, and I've spent years in law-enforcement and paramilitary operations back home, so I do know what I'm doing from a technical standpoint. I think you'll be a good fit here, and as far as I know you're the next highest ranking officer, so I think that makes you my deputy, barring someone else being sent."

Something in her eyes softened at his admission and she spoke frankly and from the heart. "I have done much in my life, but much I simply can't speak on.", she said as she tapped the skull stud on her face, "But any advice, insight or anything that you need, just ask and it's yours."

Inwardly she did feel for him, getting thrust up to a position of status and probably having that same feeling she once had of 'what the hell am I doing?'. It was only proper for her to have his back in all things.

"Thanks Lieutenant. My name is Adan Kador by the way. When we're in the office feel free to call me Adan. In fact I'm still getting used to the whole L-T thing so it'd probably be better to go by name. Do you have any quesitons for me?"

"Not much other than shifts, Adan.", she said, "I can come up with some skill honing classes for the department if you think we'll need them. After all, never know what existance is going to throw at you."

"That might be a good longterm idea, for the short term I think we're going to have our hands full with departure preparations. Once we're under way though, we could definitely use someone with your expertise to handle hand to hand training and the like." One less thing to worry about was always welcomed after all.

"For the interim, you're going to be assigned as the duty officer for Beta shift. The standing orders are fairly simple. See to it all standing security procedures for pre-departure are made. Security checks on the crew, security checks on cargo and personal items, ID checks, the routine stuff. Beat duty is normally 6 hours, reserving two hours for training daily, at your discretion."

"Well..since you'd find out anyway, ", Amedea said with a sigh, "I do have a long...really long history with erratic sleep patterns. Generally I sleep for a couple to few hours, and end up puttering around, stop by the department to see how things are, work out in the gym, crack out the sketchbook until I crash out again, so I'm pretty much covered as far as daily training goes."

"So long as it doesn't effect your health or job performance, I don't think your sleeping habits are going to be 'too' big of an issue. Especially right now when there's so much to do. If there's nothing else, I'll let you settle in."

"Unlike many, I have no problem with seeing the medicos when I know I need it.", she said with a smile, "And I'm already bunked in so I figure I'll take a lookover of the department and see when my report in physical's due."

"Not a bad idea." He returned her smile, remembering coincidentally that he also needed his medicals updated. In that case, welcome aboard the Miranda. See you in a couple of hours."

"Will do.", she said as she got up, "And may things be eventful, but not too eventful."

Adan chuckled. "From your lips to the Prophets' ears."

"Introduction"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
LtCMDR K Jordan Lankin

Starfleet Intelligence's liaison to the USS Miranda was not known for being a stickler for protocol. Her particular branch of Starfleet wasn't especially strict in that regard anyway, but her little piece of that world took that to the extreme -- ranks could get you killed, and seniority and respect were always based more on actions and time served than the politics of promotion.

When the Old Man was in the CO's readyroom, she usually would just walk in. He'd never disparaged the tactic and thus, she'd seen no reason to curb her customary brashness. But perhaps she thought that Elaithin Jii would not necessarily appreciate it. So she stood there, staring at the door, contemplating the bridge's customary brightness and chaos. Then, she sighed and pressed the call button. A moment later, the doors opened.

When she stepped through, the bridge crew exchanged looks. It was peculiar.

++++++++++

"Captain Elaithin," Jordan Lankin said, taking a somewhat awkward stance at attention, her hands behind her back. She'd changed out of the dress uniform and into a black ensemble that was not quite general issue -- but that wasn't unusual in her type of intelligence work.

The Bajoran captain was busy removing several small items from a similarly small case and placing them on his desk. He paused at her enterance, setting down what looked like an ancient Earth firearm, and then turned to face her.

"Commander Lankin," he said with a nod and leaned back onto the desk, supporting his weight with both hands on the edge. "What can I do for you?"

"I wanted to just -- I -- what... is that a Colt Peacemaker?" Her forehead creased as she fully entered the room, moving toward the desk, her eyes focused on the piece of nineteenth century Americana held in the captain's hands. "Is it authentic or from a kit?"

The captain smiled, a half-smile that was accompanied by a rather strange expression on his face. "Oh, it's certainly authentic."

"Really?" Her expression and voice were clearly impressed as she approached and held out her hands, raising her eyebrows in an unspoken question. He hesitated, but then passed the weapon to her and she examined it, shaking her head. "You know how few of these there are anymore? Where did you get it? It's in great shape. Looks almost… new. Not hundreds of years old. I thought they were all in museums... or my... my father's study..."

"I got it in 1897 - I think that's the right year. Earth calendars confuse me sometimes. And that, 'Commander, is a very long story that I can tell another time," he smiled. There was something in his eyes that showed he had noticed the catch in her voice, but he didn't say anything about it and neither did she. "What brought you here?"

"Well that's one long story I'm going to have to hear," she said, smiling a little. "Philosophy of time travel makes my head spin, but there's always interesting adventures when you get to the more... personal level." She paused, giving up the weapon so he could put it in its place. She then sighed. "I wanted to... apologize, I guess. For the awkwardness in the shuttle bay. I'm usually more professional than that, and it was uncalled for. Not the impression I was trying to make with the Miranda's new captain. I'm sorry."

He smiled again, wider this time. "Elaithin Jii," he said, and extended a hand. "Happy to meet you, 'Commander"

She smiled and took his hand. "Jordan Lankin," she replied. "It's a pleasure."

"You could make it up to me, you know," he hinted.

"Oh really?" she asked, settling into one of the chairs across from the captain's desk, slouching deep into it -- she crossed her surprisingly long legs out in front of her. "Make it up to you? How's that?"

"Dinner," he answered simply. "The Captain's mess cook isn't aboard yet, and I find myself remarkably free this evening."

That caught her off guard and the ghost of surprise flickered over her features. She drew a deep breath as though she was going to say something, but she paused for a moment.

"You know... I think I'm free as well. There's a great place on 6-1-6, actually. Pretty decent Betazoid food, which is usually hard to find off the planet. It's pretty casual, lots of options. Or... if you'd prefer, there's a Bajoran traditional restaurant. Either one, maybe... 19.30ish?"

"Haven't tried Betazoid food before," he admitted, and then frowned for just a moment. "Wait, aren't they vegetarians?"

She winced. "Yeah," she said. "It was a sticking point for me too, but somehow they pull it off. Not like the Vulcans." She smiled. "But let's go with Bajoran then. It's my favorite anyway." Jordan paused, studying his face, and then the realization fell. "Or if you had somewhere in mind... I'm sorry to be so -- I've been in command mode all day. Practically my whole department is transfers now, and they're all green. Hardly more than starbase service in the lot."

"Not at all," he shrugged. "I'd never been out here to 616 until this morning. I thought I was going to have to hit up the Old Man to find out where the good food is."

Jordan scoffed. "I love Victor Murdock like a father. But let's just say that he thinks haggis is fine cuisine. You're much better off sticking with me."

The Miranda's new commanding officer grinned. "Well, alright then," he said, "it's a date."

"Bedside Manner"Edit

Dr. Robert West
LtCMDR K Jordan Lankin


There were many things that Jordan Lankin needed to take care of, post haste. Between all the new crew members coming into her intelligence center and all the new crew members coming onto her ship, she was pretty swamped. Add to that the shock of seeing Joral Anton once again and the surprise invite from the new captain, and Jordan was pretty close to going out of her mind.

But first things first. A new CMO meant that there were new guidelines. He wouldn't necessarily understand that some things just weren't okay.

She strode into sickbay with her usual hasty speed, tossing a thick auburn curl over her shoulder. The nurse at the admittance desk half stood, about to say something, but trembled and settled back down as the intelligence officer continued through toward the CMO's office.

Jordan braced herself on the doorframe, presenting herself almost like a classic movie star, and looked at the tall, somewhat awkward blonde man sitting behind the desk.

"You're new. So let me set it straight. I come in for my physicals once a year. That is all. I just had it two months ago, so regardless of whether or not *you* preformed it? It stands. I have ten more months before I have to worry about you. Are. We. Clear."

From behind his desk, Dr. West regarded the young intelligence officer with an expression that, to the untrained eye, would have appeared completely empty. Internally, however, there was quite a bit of activity going. Robert systematically sized her up, noted her stature and physique, paid attention to her rank stripes and deduced precisely to whom he was about to speak. He quickly brought up the mental image of the 'commander's personel file (which he had, of course, memorized), and began to repeat the information to himself within his head.

Of course, all of this was being done with a blank, silent expression that lasted, and lasted, and continued to last as if Time itself had suddenly decided to give it's two-weeks notice retroactively and walked out on the job.

Jordan continued to stare him down, her eyes narrowed, arms folded. She's won staring contests with Vulcans and a human medical officer, no matter how (what was the word someone had used?) "zany" he was, wasn't much of a match.

Quite suddenly, and with not even a token semblance of a warning, Robert launched.

"LieutenantCommanderKittyJordanLankinStarfleetIntelligenceFieldDirector12thFleet27YearOldHumanFromBostonMassachusettsFormerOperativeOfSection31FiveFeetSevenInchesInHeightWeightOfOneHundredAnd..."

"Wait -- stop," she said, raising a hand, pressing it to his chest as he lurched toward her. "First, stop. No more chattering like that. Seriously. And second, you've read my file -- you don't want to launch yourself at me like that, it could hurt you. I spook easily." Her large hazel eyes widened.

Robert paused for a moment, temporarily stunned. His mind went clear at the jolt of being interrupted and it took him a few moments to readjust back to whatever it was he considered "normal."

"Ah... yes... my apologies... 'Commander..." he managed, after a few seconds, and then, as if the previous exchange had not even occured, he added "I'm sorry... did you... need something?"

"Thank you," she replied, eyes narrowing again, curiously as she studied the man. "My mind processes things quickly, but that's pretty intense." She paused, waiting to see if he was going to react. "I came to underline the fact that I will show up to my physical examination yearly. Once a year. No more barring catastrophe. And I've already fulfilled that obligation this calendar year."

The words Kit used after "physical" may as well have been nonsensical baby talk, for all the good they did, as Robert essentially didn't hear them. They word served as a trigger for his thought process and he instantly sprang to life once again.

"Oh yes, the physical of course!" he began, attempting to slow down his pace a bit. It was something he was trying to work on, although it wasn't perfect, "Not too worry aboutAnyOfThat'CommanderWeCan take care of that RightNowNo problem."

"Wait, no, that's what I said!" Jordan protested, following the man who had taken off. Not that she had much choice -- he's grabbed her wrist as was leading her toward a medical bed.

Robert stopped then and guestured for her to sit, "QuiteAShipIsn'tIt?ICan'tBelieve how lucky I've been ToGetThisKindOfAssignment they said I'd never GetOnBoardAStarshipSomethingAbout being too strange, whatever that mean PleaseTurnYourHeadToTheRight thank you."

He continued his steady-rapid-steady verbal delivery as he deftly handled his medical tricorder with remarkable swiftness and skill. Indeed, Jordan scarcely had any idea what was happening at all, so mesmerizing was his oddity. She tried to snap herself out of it, to get a word in edgewise, but it wasn't taking. She was sitting there, solidly, perfectly immobile and sane, yet felt like she was veering head-first into the crazy ditch.

After all -- how long could one person continue to speak without stopping to take a breath?

"Right then, we OnlyHaveOneMore thing to take care of, OnlyTakeAMoment just lie down here." As he spoke those words, his hands went to a hypospray situated on the table beside him.

"Oh HELL NO," Jordan said, the sudden jolt of adrenaline enough to kick her out of the confused shut-down her mind had undergone in self-defense. "If you come within TWO FEET of me with that, I will neck pinch you so fast you won't know WHAT HIT YOU."

For the next 42 and a half seconds it appeared that Jordan had actually *broken* Robert. Not only was he no longer speaking, he was no longer doing *anything*. He stared at her with (if it were possible) an even MORE blank expression than he had used in his office. But this time there was no mile-a-minute internal monologue, no great deductive reasoning. For all intents and purposes, Dr. West was a vegitable.

43 seconds later, as if God had cosmicly rebooted him out of a Blue Screen of Death, he looked at the hypospray in his hand, and then to Jordan, and then to the hypospray, and again back to Jordan. This continued for the next several seconds as his brain ran through its start-up procedure (Enable Program "Awkward Glance," Enable Program "Auctioneer Voice," Enable Program "Captain Tact," etc.).

Finally, after a full minute of complete silence, Robert responded, "...come again?"

"Put. It. Down," she stated, solidly. "And step away from the hypospray or I. Will. End. You."

Robert, with an expression one might use to indicate that someone had shot your pet, placed the hypospray back on the table.

"But... 'Commander..." he managed, "you must have... inoculations. There's too great... a risk of... of shipbourne illness... without them."

"Indeed. Which is why I get one hypo and ONE HYPO ONLY each year for my inoculations. I just went through that special hell two months ago. You are not coming anywhere near me with that," she said, gesturing with a long, well manicured index finger. "I do not like hypo sprays. And you're not zapping me with it. I do not know you and you are not going anywhere near me with that!"

Robert was at a complete loss. He hadn't delt with anything remotely resembling this situation before. Technically, as the CMO, he could *order* Jordan to take the hypospray... but the thought never entered his head, so thrown off his game had he been by her outburst. Thinking quickly, he instead settled on an alternative idea.

Striding back towards his desk, he opened a drawer and pull out a small tube containing some type of pills. He walked back to the 'commander and handed her the bottle.

"Here," he said, finding his steady voice again, "these can be used as a... reasonable substitute for the innoculations."

She stared at him. "Have you listened to me at all?" she asked. "I got my inoculation. Two months ago. It's still in affect."

Robert seemed to almost roll his eyes at the 'commander (he was doing all kinds of things no one thought possible that day, it seemed) before responding, "Yes 'Commander...you got the standard innoculations for standard viruses." he pressed the tube into her hand as he continued, "But this ship is so packed...that the threat of...spreading a cruise sickness is...to put it mildly...severe."

"I've never had any problem before. And I have been on this ship for 18 months."

"I understand... 'Commander..." Robert seemed to actually be growing slightly impatient, another thing he was not terribly well known for, "but these are... the rules... and I think you will agree that... the pills are an adequate... compromise to the hypospray."

"Yes, I agree, and I think we should keep this in mind for a later point," she said, an edge creeping up in her voice as well. "But. I am perfectly inoculated. I am rarely if ever sick. And I do not feel that I need to double-dose in order to ease your concern."

Internally, Robert couldn't handle it any more. Something inside him was seething. This intelligence officer was telling him how to do his job, telling him she didn't need to follow the rules of medicine. He could handle a lot of things with scarcely a look of concern on his face (indeed, he often didn't realize when concern was warranted), but this woman was too much.

"'COMMANDER LANKIN," he shouted. It sounded extremely odd, as if the tone of voice coming out of his mouth didn't fit the man creating it, "You WILL take one of these pills, ONCE a day, or you WILL submit to innoculation. That. Is. An. ORDER."

"I will take the goddamn pills but I will not *take* the goddamn pills," she said, eyes flashing as she stubbornly dug in her heels. "And I will not SUMBIT to an INOCULATION before my TWELVE MONTHS are UP! " She was shouting now, face beginning to flush.

What happened next was fast and rather ugly. As if by instinct, Robert scooped up his hypospray and flipped it upright, ready to use. Without thinking any further, he launched at the 'commander at full speed, reaching for the neck, intent on inoculating her.

And then he went down like a tall, laky sack of potatoes.

The small intelligence officer stood over him by the biobed, staring down at his unconscious form as the nearest nurse gasped and ran over.

"I warned him," Jordan said, readjusting her shirt as the nurse looked up at him. "It's not my fault he didn't believe me and calm the frak down."

Somewhere, deep inside the unconscious mind of Dr. Robert West, a singular thought was present. The though was consuming all of his subconscious mind with relentless aggrivation. As he slept, there was nothing else but the thought:

"I do not believe that we are going to get along terribly well.

“Gazer at Stars"Edit

Lieutenant Gazer at Stars

Heyer Array, Izar System

"You gonna tell him?"

"I guess. He kinda creeps me out."

"Why? Is it the fur or the tail?"

"No..." Yeoman Christoper Hauss though of the Lieutenant currently in charge of the Heyer Array and stifled a shiver. "It's his eyes. They freak me out, the way he looks at you."

"Like what... he doesn't like you?"

"He likes me just fine, I guess", Haus said, remembering the last time he had to deal with Gazer . "It's just... well... when he looks at you, you get the feeling he's looking at his next meal."

++++++++++

The Kzinti's rat-like tail danced in the air behind him as Gazer at Stars finished the software upload that corrected the small irregularities that had plagued the Hayar Array for some weeks. Almost a dozen years old the facility was beginning to show its age, and now modifications to its operational programs were required to compensate for metal fatigue, radiation exposure, and the general wear and tear if inter-system flotsam. A meteorite the size of a small marble was the latest culprit, striking the tip of the array's main spar with enough force to bend the alloy. The analysis of the damage and subsequent programming of the "patch" was a tedious project, but Gazer didn't complain - the final outcome would be a worthy accomplishment, and in the mean time he didn't have to endure the stink of other people.

When the reboot was finally done, Gazer permitted himself a rumbling purr of satisfaction. The small neutron star of Cassiopeia A flickered upon the main viewscreen in a wild array of false colors - the greenish hues of x-rays melded with the crimson of infra-red and the pale white of visible light creating a familiar kaleidoscopic image of the massive supernova remnant. The picture was crisp, and even the radio-signature of the neutron star was coming in clean.

Gazer's large green eyes were dilated with the colorful image, and he took a moment to enjoy its magnificence. Of all the astronomical bodies in the cosmos supernovae fascinated him the most, and Cassiopeia A was a jewel among them. The Hayar's re-calibrated scanners could now pick up signs of the nucleasynthesis that the stellar explosions had caused, showing traces of plutonium an uranium isotopes. The original star was gone, but the small traces of such heavy elements were the tracks and spoor that told of a giant had once existed.

His sensitive ears flickered when he heard the high-pitched whine of transporter effect followed by the loud and clumsy shuffling of a human-like biped, and Gazer knew that his reverie would come unpleasantly come to an end. The interruption annoyed him, and he let out a deep rumbling growl that was certain to spook the new arrival.

~Let it~, he thought.

Sure enough, the pale face of Yeoman Haus was accompanied by the sour-sweet small of his restrained fear - the stench of which Gazer had come to loath. Further, the human's thoughts and conflicting revulsions sickened the large feline and the pounding in the back of his brain that he had been free of for weeks began to return.

"Yeoman..." he growled with unfriendly undertones."

The sound of the Kzinti's animal-like voice only served to increase Hauss' discomfort. "Ah.. Lieutenant. The upload's working then?"

"Hrrrarrr... your purpose, Yeoman?"

"Orders from Starfleet, sir." Hauss politely offered Gazer a sweat-covered padd.

With deliberate caution and slow, unhurried movements Gazer took the device from the human careful not to pop a claw. His luck, ever a mix of good and bad, was proving true this day. It was a CSO post, but rather than independent research he was being assigned to a starship - in all likelihood small and cramped, typical fare for the Federation fleet.

Hauss had no idea what was on the padd, but he knew it wasn't exactly good when the Kzinti's pink, hairless ears flattened themselves against Gazer's head. "Well, if that's everything sir..."

Gazer nodded and the yeoman left, both grateful to be rid of the other's company. He read the name of the ship on which he would be serving, but the Miranda had no special significance to him. He doubted that another Hero would have served on such a vessel - the number of outcast Kzinti in the Federation could be counted with the claws on his right paw - but he was the only one accursed with telepathy. He could almost imagine being shoulder-to-shoulder with the monkeys, marsupials, rodents and herd-animals that made the bulk of species serving in Starfleet, and the thought of their combined odors made him shudder... but not as much as their alien thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears.

A shiver ran down the Kzinti's spine, and he reached down to one of the small cylinders attached to his belt. Deftly, with the claws of thumb and index finger, he drew a small spherical pill and placed it quickly under his tongue, tasting the drug's bitterness as it dissolved in his saliva. The kau'rik would numb his mind from the thoughts of others, even if it did make him more irritable than normal.

Orders were, after all, orders and he was, after all, a Hero.

"Hangin' Tough, Part 2"Edit

Lieutenant Dick Winters
Operations Officer

The room outside Commodore Sink's office was rife with activity. Men, women, and aliens of all shapes and sizes bustled back and forth, carrying padds full of duty assignments, requisition orders, transfer requests, and daily messages intended for officers of every trade. Winters smiled at the efficiency of it all. He had always held the belief that Operations was one of Starfleet's dirty little secrets. They weren't as glamorous as Command, Medical, or even the Sciences, but without them, the fleet itself would most likely fall apart at the seams.

"Commodore Sink will see you now," said a voice among the chorus of voices that filled the room. This distinctly female voice caught his attention more than any other as he had been waiting nervously outside the Commodore's office now for the better part of half an hour. He stood up and gave her a quick nod to let her know that he was ready.

As they walked through the door, Winters quickly looked around at the familiar surroundings. Over the past 3 years, he had attended many meetings held by the Commodore. Of his favorite decorations the Commodore kept, where the class photos of the Headquarters Operations staff that were taken each year and adorned the walls. Many of the faces stayed the same from picture to picture, each seemed to get just a little bit older.

Commodore Sink sat at his desk, engrossed in what must have been the most interesting piece of reading that he had ever seen, given the way he had not once taken his eyes off it since they walked in.

"Lieutenant Winters, sir," the yeoman announced as she walked around the desk and handed a padd for him to sign. Winters stood at attention the entire time as he watched Sink sign the form without even looking up.

"That'll be all, Janet. Please be sure we are not disturbed," he said and with a small bow of her head, the yeoman left the room.

The doors slid close behind her, leaving the two men in total silence. Sink still had not looked up, which only added to the uneasy feeling that Winters had since he received the summons. "At ease, Lieutenant. Have a seat, Dick," Sink said, finally looking up from his reading.

Winters quickly took a seat in one of the two chairs in front of the Commodore's desk.

"What the hell is going on, Dick?" The verbal assault had begun. "It doesn't take a genius to see that you and Sobel don't get along. Hell, the entire division knows it. Now, I know that you've done your best to not make it an issue on your part, but despite all that, it's as obvious as the latest Playboy pin-up that you two share different views of command.

"Now, I've got non-coms coming to me telling me that they'll walk if this Court Martial goes through. Do you know the position this puts me in? I have to decide whether to send them off to be shot in front of a firing squad for dessertion or to forget the whole damned thing ever happened.

"This business with Sobel has to end. As of now, you've ruined the plans that I had for this division. I was set to promote you and send Sobel off somewhere nice and quiet where he could terrorize the junior officers where I didn't have to see it. Now, because you are in the position of the offender, I can't so much as budge an inch without looking like I'm playing favorites."

Winters wondered if he was going to come up for air at any moment.

"So, I'm left with the only option that will end this little feud between the two of you and I'm sending you off to serve aboard the USS Miranda. You transport leaves in 2 hours. Go pack your gear and be ready. I'll be talking to Sobel shortly and we'll take care of this Court Martial business outside of the courts. Dismissed!!"

Stunned, Winters sat for a moment, but quickly vacated the office lest he be subjected to another lecture. He and Sink had always gotten a long very well, but he was right, Winters had put him in a very compromising decision and for as much as he hated it, he agreed with what had been said. It had never been his intention to allow his diapproval of Sobel to affect those serving around him. As it was apparent that it had, it was time for him, the lesser rank of the two officers to move on.

-5 Days Later-

Staring down at the padd that had provided him the results of the supposed Court Martial, Winters couldn't help but smile. Apparently, Sobel had left Sink's office minus his left butt cheek and a warning that any future unfounded Court Martial attempts and Sobel would find himself in front of a firing squad. Sink had finished the message in congratulating him in handling his own session with better poise that Sobel could have ever imagined to have.

Moments later, the transport had set down inside the Miranda's shuttlebay. "Welcome to Miranda, Lieutenant. The Captain has requested that you report directly to him before proceeding to your quarters," the pilot of the transport indicated as he powered down the systems.

Winters nodded in acknowledgement as he grabbed his duffle bag and stepped out on to the hanger deck. It had been a number of years since he had served on a starship and hoped that this time would be better than the last.

"Exercise Confessions"Edit

Dr. Jerry Wolfson
LtCmdr K Jordan Lankin


"Do you ever feel like everyone around you is buzzing around and going back shit crazy, but you're standing perfectly still and have no idea what the hell is actually going on?"

The woman standing next to him in the turbo lift was of slightly below average height, perhaps half a foot shorter than he was, with dark auburn brown hair. She wore a black uniform -- but it wasn't quite standard issue. She looked up at him raising an eyebrow.

"Story of my life, that," Jerry replied, smiling at her. "Hectic day?" He paused for a moment, realizing that he'd made an error. "Sorry, generally introduce myself before I go on like that. Dr. Jerry Wolfson. Call me Jerry."

"Yours too, huh?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Well. You know what they say about misery I guess. 'Commander Jordan Lankin. Call me Your Majesty."

"Your Majesty, huh? Can't quite see the crown from here, but as you wish, my liege. Pleasure to meet you." He executed a bow, reminiscing a bit about his childhood and his gran's insistence that he become a proper gentleman. If only she could see him now. "Hope your subjects aren't running you too ragged."

"Of course not. They're my *subjects*, they're here for my every beck and call," she replied, smirking. "The other monarchs on the other hand are a little... crazed. It's always like that when they change up the whole staff. I'm due to meet all my new people in a bit, which is just so exciting."

He laughed, rather heartily. "Tends to happen when half the crew gets swapped out for newcomers. Bit easier where I am. Most of the staff is new, including the CMO. Suppose it's different when you've been here for a while and are getting an influx of new subjects yourself, your Majesty." He made it a goal in his life to know as much as possible about the people on 'his' ship. Made it easier when he had an idea of who they were when they ended up in sickbay and under his care. Or, even better, when they ended up in the recreation area.

"An irritating amount of my staff is brand new -- most have never served outside of Central. They might have been assigned to an embassy. Maybe. *MAYBE*." Her eyes widened as the turbo lift opened. "This your stop?"

Jerry blinked, at her for a moment before he turned to face the open doors. Recreation deck.

"Yep. Wanted to have a look around to see what I've got to work with here. My last berth had a rather pitiful recreation area until I got hold of it. Suspect the Miranda might be the same. Never doubt the importance of being able to relax, Your Majesty. Playing games, reading, exercising, and whatnot are just as important as our other jobs." He grinned. "I wish you luck in dealing with your newcomers. I've no doubts that you'll be able to get them into shape in no time."

"Actually, the rec area's pretty nice," she said, stepping out with him, her face brightening. "The Old Man was a big proponent of it, had this philosophy that you had to take care of your body in order to take care of your mind, or some such. My favorite is the endless pool -- we have six. I'm a big swimmer, do a mile's worth every morning."

He whistled in amazement. "Blimey, makes a wonderful change from my last post, let me tell you. Glad to hear that Admiral Murdock feels that way." He looks around at the recreation deck and his smile broadens into a grin. "Oh, yeah, I can definitely work with this. Specialty's in sports medicine and I tend to get assigned to oversee the needs for recreation wherever I get assigned."

"Interesting," she said. "I don't think I've ever been somewhere with a sports medicine specialist. But I generally hide from people trying to get me into their version of 'in shape.' People always give me a hard time for my ass." She made a face. "I can't ever figure out if they think it's too big or two small, but I'm fine with it."

"Oh, I'm not just in sports medicine. Got a bit of xenobiology and general practice in there, too. Don't care much for telling people what version of 'in shape' they should be, though I'm absolutely positive there's absolutely nothing wrong with your arse. Starfleet regs tend to take care of fitness levels and most officers and enlisted realize that if they want to keep their posts, they'll take care of themselves. You've nothing to worry about, at least from me, in those regards."

"A relief. I was a little concerned." She glanced at him. "I suppose I should confess that I just knocked out your boss," Jordan stated, dryly. "Vulcan neck pinch. That man is... high maintenance. I wish you luck."

He blinked. "Do I want to know why you knocked him out?" Probably wouldn't, but he might want to know just what to avoid doing around her.

"Came at me with a hypospray," she replied, flatly. "This after I warned him exactly what would happen. He just... snapped. Launched at me like a crazed man. I'm sorry, you just don't do that to people. Especially paranoid intelligence officers used to having their mortality made clear to them on a regular basis." She raised an eyebrow. "I'm sure he'll be fine. Nothing more than a headache. And hopefully, some learning so it doesn't have to happen again. I don't like doing that. It hurts my hand. Not to mention the paperwork." She frowned. "I'm glad there were witnesses, otherwise there would be an assault charge -- can you believe it? But it's been written off as a misunderstanding. I've been given a *warning.* As though it was my fault."

It was hard to tell how much of this was accurate, she said it so nonchalantly, her voice completely deadpanned and her expression betraying nothing. To be safe, Jerry made a mental note that if he was on duty and she came into sickbay, he was going to be a little sneakier than that. Lunging at an intelligence officer?

"Blimey. Well, s'pose Dr. West'll know not to try that again when you're around. What was in the hypospray?"

"Oh, it was that, uh... inoculation cocktail you have to take on your yearly physical," she replied, shaking her head. "Which, might I add, I just took two months ago. It's not like I'm nearing 90. And I don't have a compromised immune system. So I don't need it twice. And let me tell you -- that once a year? More than enough in my book. He wasn't listening, like he locked in on the mission and was completely immovable." She sighed. "I know people like that. But they're usually in my line of work. Or they're engineers." She frowned as though contemplating something deep. "Anyway -- I hate it when doctors don't listen to their patients."

He frowned. Why would the bloke do that? Double the dosage? Only thing he could think of was if the inoculation was a booster for what was in the usual medical cocktail. Was the doctor concerned about some sort of cruise-born illness? Didn't make sense though. He certainly hadn't seen any new instructions to give the crew booster shots if they'd already had their physicals. He'd have to ask about that the next time he saw Dr. West.

"Dr. West strikes me as a different sort of man. Not the typical doctor. Brilliant mind. But different. You won't have to worry about me coming after you with a hypo without a very good reason. And even then--" he smiled, showing his teeth. "--it'd only be with your permission to approach."

"Permission to approach. I like that," she said, nodding.

"Glad you do. Always like to listen to my patients. I try to put myself in their shoes. Sometimes the medical practice can be downright scary if you're not in the right frame of mind," Jerry replied.

"I think that's a good way to be," she replied. "Might have to encourage you to do a little generalized medicine." Jordan brushed back hair as she continued to follow him around the recreation deck, marveling somewhat and the excitement he displayed about everything there. "So, do you have any other interests beyond pilates instruction and zapping people with hyposprays?"

"I never zap," he replied, aghast. "Just press and hiss. Zapping is so undignified." Jerry winked at her before he continued, "Tai Chi, poker, billiards, sailing, oh, the sky's practically the limit. Interested in lots of things, me. How about yourself?"

"It always feels like zapping," she replied, smirking. "I like a little bit of everything, too. Bit of a pool shark, honestly, don't let me tell you otherwise. So, if you ever want to grab a game at either the bar or the rec center, let me know." She paused a moment and looked at the small chronometer on the inside of her right wrist. "I should get back to the ducklings. I leave them alone too long, they might unmake interstellar peace. Or create it... Either way."

He smiled. "Pleasure to meet you, ma'am, and I might very well take you up on that offer. I'm always up for a game. I look forward to seeing you again." He sketched another bow.

"Don't ma'am me," she replied. "It's 'Your Majesty' or 'Jordan', one or the other. Those of us in the black uniforms are usually a little less tuned-in to ranks. Track me down. We'll grab a drink. It was nice to meet you Jerry."

"Nice to meet you, too, Jordan," he said. "I'll do that."

He would, too, he though, watching as she left. It was always nice to, hopefully, make a new friend.

"Welcome to the Intelligence Center"Edit

LtCmdr K Jordan Lankin
MWO Roger Vernikoff

Military organizations were the only place where one got their job before meeting their bosses. It was a concept that always amused Roger throughout his long career in Starfleet. It was rather simple, really. One finished their training either in boot camp or the Academy, go for further training if necessary, then go to their first assignment. And then they get to meet their supervisor or manager as they process into their new assignment position.

And once again, here I am, Roger thought wryly, although unlike the days when he was merely a young crewman there was no nervousness preceding his meeting with the Intelligence Department director. He arrived at clear sliding double doors that led into the Miranda's intelligence center and paused before walking in. Behind the large desk that horseshoed around the back wall across from the doors, the large, circular anteroom was sparse. The small Betazoid woman behind it looked up at him.

"Vernikoff, here to see Lt. Commander Lankin." Short, sweet, and to the point.

"You're right in time, the spiel is about the start," she said, pressing a button as she stood. "Follow me please." She waved a hand and led him through the doorway on the right-hand side of the desk. They opened with a click and a whoosh, clearly on some sort of sensor.

"The doors are all on sensors," the woman stated. "They determine who you are and what level clearance you have. If you're not supposed to be here, you're not admitted without the company of someone who is. Weapons are not allowed without the Boss's okay, and she has to enter in the codes. Otherwise, a crazy amount of alarms will go off. We have some of the most sensitive detection scanners in the fleet." As they walked through into various circular rooms, certain panels blinked off. "The displays are similar to the doors -- if someone who enters the room is not cleared for the data displayed, they will temporarily darken until that individual leaves. It takes a little while to get used to. Pay attention to the lights above the doors." She motioned as they passed through one short hallway. "They will tell you whether or not it's safe to enter. If it's red -- don't go in unless you have high-level clearance for the materials in that room. That means someone working there needs not to have their work interrupted."

Roger simply nodded and offered a small smile, waiting patiently for her to continue.

"There are eight chambers. One is dedicated to tech ops, one is dedicated to clandestine operations, and the rest are primarily analytically focused -- each with its own specialization that shifts as the needs of the fleet demand; chamber three is always focused on the needs of the ship's current mission." She glanced over her shoulder. "This will also be covered in the orientation padd, but you'll find it's actually easy to stay on top of it, when you need to."

She led him into another circular room -- it was larger than the others, clearly the center of the intelligence center. The perimeter was wrapped with offices, each with tinted windows that would inevitably be able to darken as needed to prevent people looking in. The middle of the room was filled with panels and consoles, and a group of people surrounding a smaller, thin woman with long thick hair that shone a tint of red in the ambient light of the room -- it was the contrary of the rest of the ship in almost every way, the fixtures darkly polished, even the translucent displays were darkly treated.

"Hello," the woman said, glancing at Roger and his guide as they came up, though she was clearly speaking to the group. "And welcome to the Miranda's Intelligence Center. This is what we refer to as the Bubble, or the Prime Chamber. It is the heart of our operation. I am Lieutenant Commander Jordan Lankin, and I am the intelligence field director for the twelfth fleet and the chief handler for clandestine operations. Many of you have heard of me already, so I will say nothing more than that the rumors are 79% accurate -- and I'll leave it to you to deduct what that means. To my right you have Lieutenant Titan Call, the senior analyst on board. Lieutenant Soda Moaella is the tech ops division chief. And Lieutenant Commander Vielan Tofir heads our small liaison contingent. When we are done here, they are to whom you should report unless you are in my specialty.

"That said -- my door is always open for any of you. If you have any concerns or questions, please don't be afraid to come to me. I am more than happy to talk with you.

"Most of you are new to ship-based intelligence work. It is a little bit different than working at an embassy or at Central. At an embassy, we operate separately from the diplomatic corps that staffs it. We're there to provide necessary support and information, but by and large we do not answer to their command structure nor do we take their orders. At Central, we are surrounded by people in our own fields and there is little interaction between the various branches of intelligence below the upper ranks. As you can see, we all work together here and rather closely. While each of us has our specialties, that does not separate us from the others in this room.

"And while even on this ship we are an independent unit with our own command structure, we are still expected to work within the naval tradition of the regular Starfleet. This means... that we will acknowledge the commanding officers aboard, and, unless it directly conflicts with our mission at hand, we are expected to follow their orders. We are beholden to their code of conduct, and are expected to maintain appropriate decorum. Alternative duty uniforms are permitted, but they must remain to regulation.

"You must keep in mind that ship-based operations of this nature are new and somewhat unusual. Most of your shipmates have never served directly with intelligence personnel. They may not trust you, and they may not interact with you the way you would expect. The general rule, however, is to obey the rank regardless of the uniform's color unless you are ordered to give classified information, at which case you should refuse the order until their clearance and need-to-know is established."

She paused, clearing her throat. "If there is an issue that arises," Lankin continued, her voice elevating, "and you are unclear how you should proceed, come directly to me or to your division chief. If you feel you are receiving an order you should not, or that a situation is compromising the sensitivity of your work, you are not to address it on your own. That is why we are here. We will evaluate the order and take action from there. Do not ever. Expect to receive special treatment or believe that you are above the law of this ship simply because you wear the black uniform. The captain's decisions stand unless you hear otherwise from my verbal command, and mine alone. The only time I would give a contradictory order is if it comes directly from Central. Do I make myself clear?"

There were nods around the room as those gathered listened to her monologue. She surveyed them, her gaze floating over each of the faces.

"As Crewman Mairella has no doubt explained to you, we have a complicated security system designed to protect the sensitive information we deal with daily. Beyond those of us gathered in this room, only the ship's captain and senior members of Starfleet Intelligence Command are allowed uninvited access. All others, including visiting admirals, senior diplomats, and intelligence officers not serving on this ship, must be logged and have an official escort. In high-ranking cases, whether other members of the senior staff or of visiting brass, that escort must be either myself or one of the division chiefs."

The woman glanced at the other division chiefs. "Am I missing anything?" she asked. They didn't seem to have anything to add, and she returned her attention to the crowd. "Ship-based service is a privilege. If you are here, you are among the best in your field and have been handpicked for front lines service because of your qualifications and experiences. This is a tremendous privilege and the Miranda is easily one of the best ships in the fleet. Know that it is hard and demanding work; we expect a lot from you and will not settle for anything but your best. But also know that you would not be here if we did not have every confidence in your abilities. If you have any questions, we'd be glad to answer them. Welcome aboard. You are all dismissed."

"When Tea is Just Tea"Edit

LtCmdr K Jordan Lankin
MWO Roger Vernikoff

After the dismissal, the field director glanced at the tall Commander Call standing next to her, said something inaudibly, and moved into the largest office in the circle.

Roger silently followed her and stood while until she navigated around her desk. As a personal rule he never spoke until doors were closed, people were sitting (or standing in their positions, depending), and everyone had each other's full attention.

She glanced up, cocking her head and studying him a second.

"Mr. Vernikoff," she said, as though his name suddenly dawned on her. "What can I do for you?"

"I needed to ask you about what exactly you expect from me here," he asked in a no nonsense manner. After 30-plus years, he was well aware of when it was time to build up to a conversation, and when he needed to get right to the point.

"That's an interesting questions," she replied, settling in her chair and pressing a button on a small kettle sitting on her desk. "What do you want me to expect from you?"

Now Roger offered a thin smile. "It was too easy for me to get this assignment. There are other Master Warrants out there who are a lot younger than I am." He dropped his voice an octave to indicate that he was about to impart something sensitive. "I also know that you signed off on my orders personally. I'm no rookie, 'Commander; I know when something is up. Felt it the moment I walked onto this ship.

"Would you like some tea?" she asked as the kettle began to whistle softly.

He was about to say something else, but was caught off guard by the question. He knew better than to turn down her offer. It's how she was going to give him his answer. "Thank you, I would."

"Hand me the cups on the shelf behind you, if you would," she said, opening a small box and filled a couple small bags with loose leaf tea. "It's Bajoran black tea, one of my favorites."

Roger turned and saw the cups she was referring to. They, like the entire Intel Center, were onyx in appearance. He approached her to hand them over.

"Bajoran black tea?" he said. "It's been a while since I've had some."

"It can be hard to get outside the Bajora sector," she said. "But I like what I like." She accepted them from him and poured the hot water, handing one off. "Why are you here, that's what you were asking?" She shrugged. "I don't think age matters -- youth, years, doesn't mean you're more or less valuable. It's experience that matters, expertise. I didn't pull any strings, if that's what you're implying. Your name came across my desk and I was impressed by the work you've done with the pirates and the smugglers. You have good recommendations, a strong skill set. I think it will be... useful, with where we're heading, the types of missions the ship will get."

In the intelligence field, one lasted longer when they were able to read between the lines and the lies. Inferences, double-speak, misdirection. It's all a part of the job. And Roger read enough of what she was saying to know that he got his answer, both directly and indirectly. "Have you ever tried the desert ginseng tea from the Fenris system?" he asked.

"No," she replied, "I'm not a big fan of the ginseng. Or any of the herbal teas -- I prefer the strength of a good black tea. I steep it longer than I should, no sugar, no milk, no fruity stuff. Just the tea." She paused. "Why don't you trust that you're here because you should be?"

"You don't know what you're missing. Fenris desert ginseng is almost as hard to get as Bajoran black tea, but to each their own, I suppose." A pause. "It seems that I'm over analyzing. I apologize." He hoped that dodge would help him close the door he opened with his question about being here.

"Sometimes, I think, even veteran members get wrapped up in the intelligence mythos," she said. "It's easy to look at us and see us as nothing more than self-involved individuals attempting to prove how intelligent we are by keeping the upper hand on everyone. Playing mind games, always aiming toward a deeper purpose. Cloak and dagger. Vague meanings. Cover of darkness assassinations. Hiding in the shadows. Puppeteers. We know, on a conscious level, that there's so much more to most of us than that, so much more to what we do, and that really, ninety percent of all that is exaggerated anyway. We know that we exist for a reason, that our work is important. There's more than what we show the world, what people outside see. But sometimes it's hard not to fall into it. Sometimes tea is just tea, Mr. Vernikoff, a question just a question."

It took several moments for Roger to allow what Jordan said to sink in. Finally, he smiled (a warm and genuine one this time) and replied, "You're right, Commander. Sometimes things are just as they appear to be."

She sipped her tea, large hazel eyes watching him over the rim. "Out of curiosity," she said, after a moment, "why did *you* think you'd been assigned here? I've found that people rarely approach me, especially about things like that, without a clear reasoning behind it. What conclusion had you reached?"

"My brother," replied. That was always the reason in the past. His inside track on the Quads, Orions, child smugglers, and other assorted organized crime was his brother. Roger had painstakingly tracked a decent number of Kenny's former associates. Cut deals. Traded information. It always seemed to come down to his brother in his past assignments.

"Ah," she said. "What's the saying? 'We all have our crosses to bear'... I'm not going to lie and say the connections you have aren't of interest because you already know they are. But as far as I'm concerned, you've built a career that goes beyond them. We all have to start somewhere, Mr. Vernikoff, there's always some motivating factor or some incident that influences where our lives go, what our careers look like. Yours is your brother and his... activities, and mine... well, mine is what it is." She smiled slightly. "You're here on your own merits, for your skills. You're just going to have to trust that, I suppose. I can't promise the activities you've tracked for so long won't come up -- in fact, I'm sure they will on occasion -- but like I said in the introduction and will again, ship-based service is different. There are new opportunities, the chance to react to changing situations. It's different from traditional analytical work, and different even from the traditional field assignment. I think you'll find it interesting and hopefully, a little bit of a challenge."

"I guess we'll see what happens." He looked into his now empty cup. "I really don't mean to impose, but would you mind if I helped myself to a refill?"

"Of course," she said, standing and accepting his cup. She refilled it with the water, and added some fresh tea, then handed it toward him. "If you had no other questions for me, you may take it with you -- just make sure I get my cup back." Lankin smiled, eyes dancing brightly under her office's soft lights.

"Thanks, I appreciate it," Roger answered, taking the dismissal. "I'll see you at shift," he added and left with cup in hand.

"The Time Always Comes"Edit

Admiral Victor Murdock
LtCMDR K Jordan Lankin

Three months ago...

USS Miranda
Admiral’s Ready Room – Deck One

The admiral always had the best Scotch that money could buy. Of course, he never bought it for himself. It was the go-to gift for anyone looking to get on his good side, to butter him up for some sort of favor: diplomats, captains, admirals, politicians, they had all received the memo. Even Jordan had been guilty of the old fall back once or twice, appearing at his door with a bottle of Macallan 30-year-old single-malt, a pair of glasses, and frayed nerves. She had no idea how all the alcohol managed to be consumed; the admiral could hold his own -- he was a Scotsman after all -- but hardly was he an alcoholic. She figured he listened to a lot of young officers trying to find their way.

They started the weekly check-ins years ago, though at that time 'weekly' was a misnomer and they were rarely in person. In the 'old days,' they never spoke about work, not directly; they talked about family and friends, ambitions, things they wished they'd done differently, or grand plans for the future. When the Wonderland Project ended and the trials dragged on and on, they became one another's confidant. He supported her, listened to her concerns, and bucked her up when the discouragement caught up to her.

They'd been through a lot -- the ghost and the admiral. He played the fatherly role the way her own father had never been able to; he didn't keep secrets, didn't keep her at arm’s length, never portrayed himself as anything other than he was. If she disappointed him in some way, he never let it show. Jordan had always been close to her real father, but it was an artificial kind of close -- she and Colin only allowed the other to see a certain side of themselves, the perfect side, and the image of father or of daughter that they believed the other wanted or needed to see. But Murdock wasn't like that. He saw her flaws and forgave her for them. She liked to think she did the same for him.

"You should just tell me," she said.

He looked up at her questionably, raising a thick salt-and-pepper eyebrow that was more salt these days. Jordan wondered when that happened -- back when they first met, he'd only just started to go grey. It was amazing how fast it had happened, how fast he aged.

"Think I'm keepin' somethin' from ye, do ye, lass?" he asked, that insufferably small smile passing across his lips. "I don't know what it is yuir on about."

"Whatever it is you don't want to tell me... I'll just find out eventually, I always do." She took a sip of the Scotch. She'd never cared for the drink, but over the years she'd gotten better at controlling the wince and even had started to like the distaste. "It's like trying to keep my birthday present a secret."

"An act at which I fully intend to succeed," he commented.

"Maybe one of these days I'll let you," she replied, smirking, raising an eyebrow. "So what's the big secret?"

The Admiral started at his glass thoughtfully for a moment. A moment that lasted just a bit too long for Jordan's peace of mind if she were truthful.

"Ye heard about the C-in-C offer from Bacco?"

She scoffed. "Yeah, I think I heard something about that," she replied with a dismissive roll of her eyes. "You're going to go from the captain's chair to the torpedo tube, Admiral; we all know that. I can't believe she's actually wasting her political capital on something that's not ever going to happen. She doesn't have it to spend -- it's not like she's the most popular president the Federation has ever had."

"I'm takin' it, lass," he said softly.

It caused her a momentary pause and she cocked her head, studying him. Jordan felt a range of emotions play across her face as she considered his expression and the weight that hung in his voice.

"Tell me you're not serious," she stated, though it was more a plea than an actual hope. She knew him well enough so she realized exactly how serious he was -- this wasn't something he would bring up as a joke.

"As a heart attack," he answered. "I'm old, Jordan. I've earned my day in the sun. And Bill Ross is all wrong for the C-in-C job in any event. Starfleet needs a stronger guiding hand than Bill's comfortable using. "

"I won't disagree with that," she said, shaking her head. "You know my opinions about Ross and... but you realize she's just using you for reelection, right? I mean, with you as her adviser to... following every..." She shook her head. "Victor. You can't give up the Miranda." Her voice was soft, the barest of whisper as she dropped her hazel eyes into the Scotch soaked ice cubes that remained in her liquid-less glass.

"Trampin' about the universe is a game for the young, 'Commander. Jamie and I have been split apart too much these last years," he said solemnly.

Ah, the crux of the matter. Jordan tightened her lips until they all but disappeared into a small line across her face, her brow knitting together as she nodded her head softly.

"I can respect that," she replied. "Of course I can. Family is important. But... what about us?"

"Us?" he raised an eyebrow. "Who's 'us', then?"

"There are many people here who rely on you, Admiral," she said, her voice hardening as she reverted to his title in something more serious than the lighthearted tone she usually employed with the word; observing military rank had never been her forte, she'd spent the bulk of her career even further outside of it than was already tradition of intelligence. "We're your family too."

"Aye, no denyin' that," he acknowledged. "Yuir as dear to me as me own daughter, Jordan, that ye know. I've never said otherwise."

"When is this going to happen?"

Murdock frowned at the swiftness to her tone. She wasn't responding to the news well at all, and it was clearly upsetting him. There was a sad look to his face as he answered. "A few weeks."

"Who's going to take your place?

"That Elaithin lad. Ye remember him?" She didn't even hear the name. It was selfish, she knew, but she couldn't help it and swallowed the last drop or two that melted from the cubes before she set the glass down on the side table.

"Well. Congratulations on your promotion. If you excuse me -- I need a drink."

"Lass -”

"A drink I can get drunk to, Admiral," she replied, standing. "I'll see you in the morning."

"In Which Ladies Do Lunch"Edit

Cheyenne
Jordan

Jordan often found it astounding the amount she could sometimes accomplish in a single day. Not only that -- but what she could often accomplish before lunch. The fact that she slept about four hours a night and was on duty by oh-five-thirty was beside the point. As she moved through the hallway, filled with bustling members of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers and confused-looking crew carrying bulging rucksacks, she reflected back on the day thus far. Already, she'd debriefed a team coming in from the Klingon Neutral Zone, finished two reports for Control, greeted the new CO and XO, had a meeting with her senior staff, video conferenced with the seven junior field directors scattered across the 12th fleet, apologized to and been asked to dinner by the captain, been attacked by and consequently knocked unconscious the new CMO, met the rather handsome new recreation chief, initiated her new department recruits, and sent a letter to her mother.

And currently, she was running perfectly on time to a 13:45 lunch date with the ship's second officer.

"Who said Wonder Woman doesn't exist?" Jordan said, grinning as she dropped down in a seat.

Cheyenne put down the padd she'd been reading to occupy herself. Jordan wasn't late - was she ever? - but she'd been early for their lunch date. She'd been wrapping up some paperwork in her office when she decided to take it on the road, and finish it up in the mess. It felt good to get out of her office sometimes, especially these days. New transfers across the board, from the captain on down to the lowliest crewman. Sometimes it got on her nerves. New blood was all well and good, but it interfered with her routine. Now she had to go through the hassle of creating a new one. She smiled at her own silliness, transferring the smile to Jordan.

"Wasn't me. Why're you Wonder Woman today?" Cheyenne asked, reaching for her drink.

"I am kicking ass and taking names," Jordan chirped brightly. "It's a wonderful feeling to be completely on the ball."

Cheyenne laughed. "That must be nice. I got lost somewhere in all the paperwork from the new transfers. At least half my department's been replaced, not to mention this freakin' refit that we're dealing with. I'm glad the captain and XO are here. Now I can focus on my department and try to take the Wonder Woman title from you."

"I think, sadly, it can only be enjoyed by one woman," Jordan said, "and I plan to hold to title as long as possible. Sorry. Shall we get food?"

"Sure. It's been a long time since breakfast. I gotta tell you, this getting up early thing is for the birds. Or maybe those crazy Intel people. That's one of the bad parts about being one of the high-and-mighty's on the ship. Have to work the early shift." Cheyenne stood and followed Jordan through the increasingly-empty room.

"Hey now," Jordan said, scoffing at the off-hand jab. "You get used to it. Then you wonder how you ever spent so much time sleeping."

"Somehow I doubt that," Cheyenne replied. "My mom always told me that I'd get used to getting up early when Lila was born. That's a big fat lie, too! I was never so thankful when she started sleeping through the night! Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who lets me sleep in and took the early shift when it really mattered. I get more done at night, after 2100, then I do when I'm fuzzy-headed and desperate for coffee in the morning." Cheyenne grabbed a plate from the hopper and looked over the choice for lunch.

"I find it's a different kind of productive," Jordan said, making a face as she surveyed the options as well, and, sighing, selected some innocuous-looking pasta dish from an unknown origin. "But I guess I've never had to worry about the husband-and-children thing."

They went through the cafeteria-style line with the other officers and retook their seats with relative ease; it was one of the reasons they met later, to avoid the massive amount of traffic.

"So. Thoughts? Concerns? Expectations?" Jordan questioned, lifting an eyebrow as she squeezed lemon into her unsweetened iced tea. "Lot of changes going on. Makes me antsy."

Cheyenne took a bite of her pasta and spinach dish, talking around her food. "Met with the captain this morning all by my onesome. He seems all right. Other than a nice ass - which does seem to improve over time - have you got anything new on him?"

"Not really. I went up to The White Zone to apologize. I don't like getting off on the wrong foot and the shuttle bay this morning was not my finest moment," she said, shaking her head. "But it was a pretty quick little meeting and I haven't had much time to do any more probing. But! Ask me after tonight. Apparently, we are having dinner. Which is interesting. So we'll see. I'll probably come back with a lot of farm-boy stories, some explanation of why he joined Starfleet, and perhaps a mess of ideological ramblings half of which I'll disagree with."

Cheyenne looked at her, raising her eyebrows at the other woman. "Dinner? Interesting. Yours truly didn't get invited to dinner. Is it some top-secret agent thingy, or something else?"

"Who knows. I'm sure he'll make his way through the whole senior staff eventually, just probably though I was the one to keep an eye on," Jordan said, waving a hand. "And the Captain's mess is supposedly still closed so I think the Old Man mentioned something about the fact I know all the good restaurants." She frowned, picking at something on the roll she'd picked up. "Which, looking at this meal I think will be good... I really hate the new chef learning-curve."

"Well, that's not nearly as fun." Cheyenne took a bite of her pasta, followed quickly by a gulp from her glass. "And our new XO? What's the dish there? What's with the hostility?"

"Hostility?" Jordan mocked, wide-eyed, hand brushing her chest. "Hostile? MOI? *tsk* Never."

"C'mon, you know I'm not gonna leave it alone. Might as well share. Something. Anything. Throw me a bone here!"

"It's not too exciting, Chey -- he thinks I'm evil and I think he's an asshole."

"We-ell..." Cheyenne drawled, smiling across the table. The intel officer picked up the roll she'd picking at and threatened to throw it across the table. "Okay, so he's wrong on the evil part. It must be exciting. How often does the XO of a ship take a look at an officer and look like he wanted to throw her out the nearest airlock? Why do you think he's an asshole? When did y'all run into each other before?"

"There's the small matter that he was a key prosecution's witness at my trial," she said. "For High Crimes Against the Federation -- you may have heard about it? And before that, well... he tried to kill me."

"Well, I have to say, that wasn't the answer I was expecting. Old boyfriend, yeah. Ex-boss, yeah. Either one of those."

"Old boyfriend? Please," Jordan scoffed, though Cheyenne continued over her.

"But trying to kill you... No, wait, I can see that, too. In all seriousness, though, is there going to be a problem between the two of y'all? Can you tell me any of the history behind it, why he tried to kill you?" Cheyenne chased the last of the pasta around on her plate and forked it into her mouth.

"Nothing to tell. Come on now," Jordan replied, shaking her head, "if I had a credit for everyone who's tried to kill me over my career, I'd buy my own little moon and leave you all to surfing space dust. I have a name all picked out -- Jortopia." She nodded a little too seriously.

"Ah," Cheyenne said noncommittally.

"There won't be a problem on my end though. But enough about me. What are *your* thoughts on the new XO? You've probably spent more one-on-one time with him than I have."

Cheyenne shrugged and ate another forkful. "You know, I actually haven't met him yet, beyond the initial greeting in the bay. I probably should touch base with him soon."

"Yeah. And give me the DL."

"Give you the down low? I thought you were supposed to be my pipeline to the info, since you're the intel officer and all."

"See, people have that misconception. Yeah, we do a lot, but most of the time, we're just recruiting poor schmucks to do it for us. 'Hey -- I have this nice moon called Jortopia; it'll be yours if you give me all your government secrets.'"

"Really." Cheyenne eyed the roll on her tray. It looked kind of stale, but still edible. She picked it up and ripped a piece off. Edible was about all that could be said for it.

"You'd be surprised how well shit like that works," Jordan said, waving her spoon at Cheyenne before dipping it back in the yogurt -- she'd given up on the Pasta Surprise after only a bite. Which wasn't unusual. The intelligence officer loved food, but she was a very picky eater. Of course, Jordan called it 'having high standards'.

The two women were quiet for a moment while Cheyenne finished devouring her roll. "So what about the rest of the new transfers? Have you met any of them yet?" she asked.

"Just my guys," Jordan said. "It'll be an... interesting cruise, that's for sure. I have to approve all of them, of course, but sometimes people and their dossiers are two very different things."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. There was this one guy back on the Schrodinger, looked great on paper, but his first day on shift... Well, it's a boring story, but suffice it to say, after they got the goat out of the captain's Ready Room, he was transferred to a starbase in no time flat!" Cheyenne looked at her watch, an anachronistic old piece that had been a graduation gift from her father. "Well, I have to get going," she said, throwing down her napkin down on her plate. "I have a hot date this afternoon with a devastatingly handsome man and an adorable little girl."

"She is that," Jordan agreed, smirking. In fact, Cheyenne's daughter might have been the cutest child she'd ever seen. And there was stiff competition.

"You really should come have dinner with us one night soon. Lila would love to see you again," Cheyenne said as they stood. She carried her tray to the waste container, scraped her plates and stacked them in the tubs with the other dirty dishes.

"I will, I promise," Jordan assured, standing up and following her friend. "And before we ship out. It'll be good to see Lila again. And the hubby of course. Though, I don't think he approves of our friendship." She nudged Cheyenne with an elbow as they moved out of the mess hall. "Stay sane, don't let the paperwork eat you alive."

"I'll try. Same to you, Jordan," Cheyenne said. "And I want a full report on that dinner. Business, romance, who cares? I want gossip! I give you some, you give me some, don't forget!"

And, like they did nearly every day, the two women departed in different directions down the Miranda's corridor.

"Starbase Love"Edit

Lt. JG Iniara Sola
Chief Communications Officer, USS Miranda

Lt. Aron Vira
Ship's Counselor, USS Basilisk

If there was one place Iniara Sola loved, it was starbases.

Sure, planetary spaceports were great, going home to Janara City was even better, and there was nothing quite like a vacation in the wilderness of some mostly unexplored world. But the one place she loved to be, more than anything in the galaxy, was a starbase.

She supposed then, it was rather fortuitous that she'd spent the last two years stationed on a starbase. The thousands upon thousands of people she'd encountered on Starbase 58, with their strange languages, cultures, mannerisms...sometimes she felt like she'd learned more about the world outside her doorstep in the last two years than she'd learned in the twenty-three years before that.

Which was why, at the moment, she wasn't exactly thrilled to have been transferred back to a starship. Sure, starships went places, and sometimes they encountered interesting new people, but as she'd learned during her year on the Gorgon, most of it was the same old same old every single day. A starbase didn't go anywhere, so that meant all the interesting people had to come to it. And come they did...whether it was subspace communications in dozens of languages that she processed all day on duty, or the myriad travelers that she watched and spoke to all evening off duty.

If you ever got bored on a starbase, all you had to do was head to the Promenade. A dozen bars and at least as many eateries filled with every species imaginable meant there was never any shortage of interesting people or situations. But if you got bored on a ship, you went to the same crew lounge or the same mess hall or the same bar (if the ship even had one) and watched the same people do the same things. Sure, there was a certain novelty to a ship-based posting when you were new there, and ships did get to see different places, but that novelty only took a few weeks to wear off, and then you were stuck in a routine or, Fates forbid, an honest-to-goodness rut.

Leaning forward and propping an elbow on the small cafe table, the only open one she'd found on the patio of Starbase 616's sole Betazoid establishment, Iniara made the conscious decision to put those negative thoughts out of her mind and focus on all the fascinating things going on around her. Besides, her fellow Betazoids nearby would probably appreciate it if she'd cheer up and stop projecting her negative emotions to anyone within fifty meters who was capable of picking them up.

Sliding the provided menu over she leisurely scanned its contents. Tomorrow she'd be transferring aboard the USS Miranda, so she might as well make the best of her time here. At the very least, she could enjoy one last taste of home before she resigned herself to day after day of uninspired Terran-style food. Settling back into her chair she contemplated the relative merits of a simple salad or something more complex, idly watching the throngs of people, military and civilian alike, moving about in barely organized chaos.

Something tickled the back of her mind then, and she frowned slightly. The feeling went away after a second, then returned a few seconds later. It felt familiar, but different somehow, like someone was trying to hide something from her. She closed her eyes, head twitching slightly to the right as she focused on the sensation. After several more seconds she recognized it as the light, almost unintentional touch of another telepath, one who was coming her way. The feeling steadily increased, and Iniara smiled slightly to herself as the other person closed the distance between them, the closeness making it harder and harder for him to conceal his intentions.

Opening her eyes she noticed, not unexpectedly, that she was no longer alone. Standing before her table was a young officer who looked to be right about her age. His uniform concealed a well-built, wiry body, the blue of his jacket and the small square cross within the Starfleet insignia at his breast marking him as a member of the medical profession. Slowly, deliberately, he crossed his arms over his chest as he shifted his gaze down to look at her. Sandy brown hair framed a mischievous grin, the expression dancing across his inky black eyes. In spite of herself, Iniara felt her slight smile widening to mirror the man's full grin.

~Hello, Imzadi.~

~Fancy seeing you here,~ Iniara replied, watching his movements with some interest as he slid into the chair opposite hers. Leaning back into her own chair she folded her arms loosely, the movements closely mirroring his. ~You never *could* conceal yourself from me, Aron.~

~Sue me for trying,~ Aron replied, a light chuckle escaping his lips. ~I wanted to surprise you.~

~Which brings me to my next question: what are you doing here? I didn't think the Basilisk was nearby.~

~Next sector over, actually...in the middle of some geological survey. It's been a while since you saw me off for my tour aboard Bassie, and, well, I kinda missed you. Can't a guy return the favor for his girl?~

~I suppose he could,~ Iniara concluded, her somewhat sarcastic grin softening into a genuine smile. ~It is good to see you again.~

~So, lunch then?~ Aron continued, one hand already motioning for the waiter. ~I'm starving.~

~Actually, um...~ She paused, her abstract thoughts giving Aron a clear idea where she was going with this before she finished her response. ~Honestly, I'm not really that hungry.~

~Not for food at least, eh?~ he countered without missing a beat.

At that, Iniara couldn't help but laugh out loud. The sudden noise from the otherwise silent pair startled a few nearby diners. Aron was Betazoid and had been born in the same city (and in fact the same hospital) as Iniara, but as a consequence of his parents' jobs he'd spent just as much time growing up on Earth as he had on Betazed. Because of that, he'd picked up some interesting mannerisms from his time around humans, some of which would definitely be called vulgar or scandalous by the more traditional segments of Betazoid society. Iniara had long ago grown used to it and didn't mind it too much; after all the trait was something that made him more attractive than the average Betazoid man, at least to her. Still, his forwardness sometimes surprised her.

After a few seconds had ticked by, Aron raised an eyebrow theatrically, leaning forward and propping his chin on a hand. ~Well?~

Shaking her head and chuckling, Iniara grabbed the hand and pulled him to his feet. ~Your quarters or mine?~

~Well, I just got here...and I was kinda hoping to bunk with you,~ he revealed as he allowed himself to be dragged away.

~You're incorrigible, you know that?~ Iniara countered. Still, she tugged on his arm, drawing him closer to her, relishing the feeling of his body pressed against hers in the crowd as they slowly pushed their way to the nearest turbolift.

Aron smiled and leaned closer, his breath tickling her ear as he whispered, "Yes ma'am; I do believe I am."

Morning had almost given way to afternoon before either of them stirred. Iniara was first, her eyelids fluttering slowly open as the fog of sleep cleared from her brain. Momentary confusion over the unfamiliar surroundings was soon replaced with the memories of the previous night. A slow, steady heartbeat thudded in her right ear, and she realized after several seconds that it wasn't hers. Smiling contentedly, she savored the feel of Aron's smooth skin against her cheek, and the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest as he slept.

Surrendering to her body's need for movement she carefully moved one arm, which had until that point been draped lazily across his chest, raising it skyward and stretching out the muscles. The rest of her body soon followed as she rolled slightly away, being careful not to disturb him as she moved into a sitting position.

No longer warmed by the heat of Aron's body or covered by the standard-issue Starfleet bedsheets, the unexpected coolness of the bedroom's gentle breeze raised goose pimples along her back and arms. Closing her eyes, Iniara inhaled deeply, tightening and relaxing the muscles of her back, and took a moment to enjoy the sensation of cool air against bare skin. She wanted to savor every moment they had left, because all too soon they would be going their separate ways. Aron would return to the Basilisk and Iniara would be off to the Miranda, and only the Fates knew when they would see each other again.

As they had every other time she'd been in this situation, Iniara found her thoughts once more returning to her future with Aron Vira. Their parents had arranged their pairing when both children were just a few days old. Both were the youngest of three, the children of families that commanded a similar level of influence within their respective Houses, and they had been born only three days apart. Their families lived near each other, and as children they both traveled in the same social circles and had developed similar interests and goals in life. As they grew, their parents told one another over and over that the match had been very suitable indeed. Not every arranged pair succeeded in Betazoid society nowadays, but when Iniara and Aron had bonded as imzadi in their teenage years, the expectation had been that they would someday marry and start a family. Iniara still hoped that would happen, but more and more she wondered when-- or if-- it ever would.

They'd grown up together, at least during the times Aron's family had been living on Betazed, so both had assumed they'd enter university at the same time, graduate together, then settle down and start a family soon after. But Iniara's mother had remarried when Iniara was fifteen, Iniara had then gone to live with her mother and stepfather on the Hawkwing, and Aron's family had moved back to Earth at about the same time. Then, two years later, both found out that they'd each independently decided to enter Starfleet Academy. The Academy had brought them closer together, and it had awoken in both of them a desire to use their talents and abilities to help others, but it had also revealed fundamental differences and created a strange rift between them that remained unexplained to this day.

Iniara had expressed a preference for work aboard starbases, claiming that it let all the interesting people come to her. But the real reason, the one she never told anyone, was the simple fact that starbases and other fixed installations didn't go anywhere. She loved excitement, but she also needed stability. On the other side of the spectrum, Aron had developed quite a sense of adventure from the years he'd spent on Earth and around the more reckless and impulsive natives of that planet. He'd gone into counseling because he genuinely enjoyed helping others with their problems, but he'd decided to do it in Starfleet because that would take him more places in a year than a civilian job would in his entire lifetime. For him, stability was alright, but what he really sought was excitement and the thrill of the unknown that lay just past the next star or planet.

But even that didn't fully encompass it. Working around such a difference was hardly a problem in this day and age; her parents had even had a similar arrangement when her mother was in the Diplomatic Corps. Although she was more than a little reluctant to admit it, Iniara knew it was just an excuse, a reason she gave because she was unable to put her finger on anything else.

They were in love, that much was plain to see; it was written on both their faces for anyone to read. They shared a bond far deeper than anything a non-telepath could experience or even comprehend. They had the same outlook on life, and similar goals, and they'd known each other for so long that almost nothing remained hidden between them. But, as she had slowly come to realize over the past few years, love was a powerful force, maybe the most powerful in the galaxy, but sometimes it just wasn't enough. For them to build a life together, to join as one and forsake all others until the end of days required...something more.

So engrossed was she in these thoughts that it took Iniara some time to realize that a new sensation had joined the tickle of the cool air against her back. The light touch of a single finger tracing its way delicately down her spine alerted Iniara to the fact that Aron was no longer asleep. ~Hey.~

Turning to look at him over her shoulder, Iniara smiled slightly, a touch of sadness creeping in at the edge of the expression. ~'Morning.~

Aron looked at her for a long moment, studying her expression, feeling how it reflected and then contradicted the emotions she was taking no effort to try and hide from him. He knew this ritual well, knew that after the joy of the reunion, then the entertaining banter, and finally the near overwhelming contentment of just being near each other again, inevitably there came the frustration over their impending return to real life, the loneliness that crept in, and the growing feeling that what they were doing, or the way their relationship was going, simply wasn't the way it was meant to be.

Aron was a trained counselor with several years' experience, the head of his (admittedly tiny) department aboard the Basilisk; he should have had no trouble working through this problem. He'd helped countless fellow crewmembers through all sorts of problems during his time in the 'Fleet, but when it came to dealing with his own troubles, he found himself strangely ineffectual. Every attempt they'd made to move past this road block had thus far ended in failure. But, he would be damned if he didn't try at least once more.

Reaching forward, he covered Iniara's closest hand with his own, then looked back up, fixing her with a gaze that was far more serious than she'd seen from him in a long time. ~Come with me.~

The sudden realization that she'd been projecting her thoughts so openly hit her like a slap in the face and her reflexes kicked in, causing her to withdraw into herself. More than anything she hated keeping things from Aron, but these negative emotions weren't any fault of his. They were hers alone, driven by something she couldn't yet understand, and there was no reason he needed to suffer because of her own insecurities.

Aron squeezed her hand gently, drawing her back to the present. ~I'm serious, Iniara. Come with me.~

Iniara hesitated for a moment, not wanting to open herself up again just now. "To the Basilisk?" she responded vocally, her normally smooth contralto still rough from sleep. "It's..."

'It's a survey ship and I'd be completely useless there,' she wanted to say. But instead, all that came out was, "I'm not so sure that would work."

"Then I'll come with you to Miranda," Aron countered, pulling himself into a sitting position beside her. His free hand found hers and he pulled them close to his chest.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" she asked, trying to lighten the damp mood that had settled over them. "Zipping all over the quadrant on that ship..."

His expression softened into a half grin. "Damn right I would. I'd counsel nothing but discontented pets all day if it meant I could be with you all night." He paused, the grin falling away. "I want to make this work, Iniara. I want to make us work. Not just for our families, or our people, but for us."

"I know," Iniara agreed, her shoulders sagging as she sighed tiredly. "I do too. It's just..."

"Tough to fix things when you don't know what's wrong?" he finished. She nodded once, the simple motion telling him more than words ever could. "It's okay," he continued, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into a tight embrace. After a moment he smiled softly as he felt her relax into him. "We'll figure it out."

++++++++++

Later, as she boarded the shuttle that would take her to her new home, Iniara thought back to what had been said between them, and what both had still left unsaid. Peering out the nearest window she wasn't the least bit surprised to see Aron standing in the crowd, the unmoving blue of his uniform standing out against the sea of red roiling all around him. She knew he'd stay there, never wavering, his gaze fixed on the shuttle until it had exited the bay and passed completely from view. That was just what he did; what he always did.

And that was when she realized the most important thing about their relationship. No matter what happened, he would always be there for her, and she for him. He would be there to watch her go, and she would be there when he returned. Even if they were millions of light years apart, they both would take with them the knowledge that someone out there cared more about them than anyone else in the universe, and that they would always be there for you no matter what. That was what it meant to be imzadi; to know someone as no other can, to love someone in spite of themselves, to always be there and never desert, not even if the apocalypse itself was beating down your door.

Although she couldn't help but wish for more, for the time being, it would have to do.

"Hello Again"Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security Officer
CPO Joe Greene, Master-at-Arms

Overall, the department wasn't too bad. Amedea had seen worse thinking they were in better shape, but then, this was the Miranda and so far crew was seeming a noticeable notch above the rest.

She watched some new crew walk in to report, and went to go check on how they were with phaser power cell packs when she heard a voice she'd not heard in years. They weren't close friends, or really friends by the definition, but more like acquaintences plus. She'd worked with him and if they bumped into each other offshift they'd actually have a more than 'hi' conversation.

Joe was working on another report this one was to confirm what they were missing so he could get it filed then call in a few favors and see what he could get for supplies, usually it worked.


Moving in the 'ghost step' as her people called it, really no more than just being nimble and quiet, Amedea snuck up behind him and impishly let out a discreet dual throated cough.

He jumped a bit at the cough, "You know Lieutenant, if I hadn't been paying attention, I would have heard you I have before."

"That's what you like to think.", she teased, "It's good to see you again."

"Good to see you too." He chuckled, "Small universe eh?"

"More like the more you travel, the more you can be happy to see again.", Amedea grinned, "Have you met our boss yet?"

"He's an interesting kid, nice guy." He shrugged, "SO yea I have."

"I see potential there.", Amedea said, "In time and seasoning, he'll be fine."

"That's how it is with most dept heads, just need time to settle in."

"Agreed.", she said, "What have you been up to since the base?"

"Not a lot got promoted since we talked last, ended up on a border defense scout for a while talk about cramped."

"I know all about cramped, been there too many times.", she chuckled, "I've been at the Academy, assistant teacher on Survival. Guarantee we've got some fine graduates able to make it through anything."

"Good... more of our cadets need to learn how to survive without few of the luxuries we deal with on a regular basis. Makes for more realistic survival."

"Well, you remember when we had that accident in engineering and the base had no power for that time, people were panicking as if it was the end of the world. I lost count how many were actually crying in relief when things got back online. Thankfully that was a no casualties other than the basic bangs and bruises."

"I mean people were wondering how to patrol without people to patrol. So I had to tell them that was a fun conversation."

"I still laugh over that 'free trader' who thought with the power down he could smuggle those Berengarian dragon eggs through.", she smirked widely, "The look on his face when he realized I was up in the rafters watching him was priceless."

"And when we locked him up he complained that you cheated."

Amedea laughed loudly, "Cheated how? It was easier to walk the rafters than trip over cargo and I knew he was up to some mierda already."

"Well he ended up being sent to the Berengrians and they don't like egg smugglers."

"How about that time when that shipment of whatever those little furballs with the teeth broke out of cargo on layover. You guys woke me up to help corral them and we were running all over tryng not to get bit and I was so tired and out of it, I missed that one gnawing away on my shoulder."

"Ouch those things are nasty."

"You were nice with sickbay and then out for pancakes.", she said, "Think I fell asleep in my syrup though."

"You did." He remarked, "Fast out cold snoring, cooks thought you were insane."

"That, ", she said, "Is fairly normal with me or any of my people."

"It's a good habit to have though I do discourage sleeping during breakfast."

"You've seen some of my people, we can sleep at the snap of fingers.", she said, "Hell, that time we were waiting for that skin trader to dock, me and Durango Bob were leaning up on the wall crashed out and still snapped up phasers ready when it locked in."

"A good skill to have, sleeping on a dime is definately worth it. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down and never lie down when you can sleep."

"You know what shift you've got?", she asked.

"Not a clue they're still backfilling from the Non Comissioned end so they'll move me around."

"Well, if we're on the same one, great, otherwise hell, we'll still work together.", Amedea grinned, "It's good to have familiar faces around."

"Definately, familiar faces make things better."

She nodded and noticed the time, "I gotta run, have my physical to get done and you know how I hate taking up the medico's time. See you around?"

"You know it."

"Error Five"Edit

K. Jordan Lankin

"Why? Why do you do this?"

There was no reply necessarily, just an exhausted and muffled futttzzz from the console as the intelligence officer pressed at where the manual 'restart' button was supposed to be. The display blinked and momentarily brought a jumble of hazy, distorted images before it shorted out again, groaning as it blanked.

"No. No no no, don't you make that sound at me," Jordan Lankin said, pressing hard, jabbing at it now. "Come on," she pleaded. "Please behave. I'm doing everything they told me... Please? See -- I'm dropping my hands, I'm backing away... I'm addressing this sensibly... Computer -- restart terminal Omega-7-C."

There was a quiet hum, a few more flickers, and then -- nothing.

Jordan closed her eyes, counting to five, slowly. "Computer, please run diagnostics on terminal Omega-7-C."

[Cannot comply. Terminal Omega-7-C has encountered Error Five. Please contact operations administrator for further assistance.]

"No! Don't you give me THAT!" she exclaimed. "That is a NON ANSWER! I looked it up! R.T.F.M.'ed -- Error Five means that there is an error! And I know that! WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS *WHY* THERE IS AN ERROR! WHY!"

[Cannot comply. Terminal Omega-7-C has encountered Error Five. Please contact operations administrator for further assistance.]

"ARGH! FRAKING PIECE OF SHIT!" The last four words of the intelligence operative's shouting were punctuated by four harsh bangs to the malfunctioning display, which resulted in a series of high-volume blips.

"Boss, maybe you should just contact Ops..." Titan's voice said, suddenly from behind her. She could hear the smirk behind his words and idly, she wondered what they paid him for, exactly, aside from making her life more irritating.

"I am NOT going to contact Ops!" she exclaimed. "I've contacted Ops SIX times in the past WEEK because of this WRAITHS DAMNED PIECE OF SHIT!" The last part she yelled at the large display, leaning forward toward it, hands fisted at her sides, her face reddening -- she looked like an overgrown seven-year-old having a rubber-vs.-glue argument. "I've had it up to here!"

"What're you going to do?" Titan demanded, sipping his coffee, raising an eyebrow. "Fix it yourself?"

"You know -- that's exactly what I'm going to do," she said righting herself and brushing past him in the general direction of the Tech Ops suite on the other side of the intelligence center.

"That's what I -- what? Wait. BOSS!" Titan exclaimed, stopping mid-stride toward his office and turned, then jogged after her. "You can't fix that."

"Sure I can," she said. "And I'll do a better job than the crackerjack 'experts' they've been sending me, too. The wraiths-damned 'nerd herd' has yanked me around long enough... making me dependent... they come in, do the same exact thing I've been doing and bam! it works fine, no problemo..." She muttered under her breath, almost like a mad woman as she crossed through the sensored doorway into the Tech Ops pod. "I'll fix it my own damn self and then we'll see..."

"Boss," Titan said, caught up a moment as the yeoman at the door confiscated his coffee cup. "Can I remind you what happened last time you tried to fix something?"

"That involved plumbing," Jordan dismissed, shaking her head as she moved from work table to work table, examining the tools and drifting like a specter around the officers settled there, each tinkering with who knew what kind of intelligence gathering toys. It was impossible to say what went on in here. "There's no water attached to *that* particular terminal."

"I wasn't talking about -- some people are fix-it people and some people are have-it-fixed people. You're the latter. You look at something the wrong way and it breaks. No one else has ever had problems with that terminal, but the moment you touch it, it starts..."

She whipped around. "Are you saying this is my fault?"

"No, I'm not."

"Are you saying I'm what -- some kind of computer hex?"

"Not... not a hex, necessarily."

"You're back on the list," she stated, whirling back around and opening one of the tool cases. The officer sitting at the workstation -- a very large Brikarian named Ralkan who had the gentle temperament of a house cat -- was about to say something, but thought better of it and murmured something that sounded like 'be glad to help...' but it was more or less as inaudible as the whirl of the life support system.

"But I just got off the list," Titan protested. "All I said was that while you have numerous talents that exceed those of a great many people, your skills with anything electronic leave... something to be desired."

"That's not true."

"PADDs weep when they see you coming, Jordan."

She looked at him and blinked, setting her jaw at angle as she folded her arms. He watched her finally begin to give in and she dropped the tools back in the case.

"Fine," she said. "I'll leave it be. Why did I ever give up Callahan?"

"Because he didn't want his kid being raised by his mother and you're a big softy?" Titan said.

"Yeah, I'm a cuddly bucket of fluff," she muttered, patting Ralkan on the shoulder before she moved out of the Tech Ops hole, and glowered at the terminal for an extended moment. "Are we getting another one?"

"You could try. But it'll take a few months. Those things don't come cheap -- or easy."

"No, I mean a Callahan."

"Oh. Yeah. New guy. Mo' says he's pretty good. Corn or Horn or Trumpet or something. I don't have your memory," Titan said, moving toward his office now that the crisis seemed averted. "He starts Thursday."

"Thursday," Jordan murmured, collecting her padd from the terminal. "Okay. I guess you can sit there in darkness and think about what you've done until then." But it was all she could do to resist the urge to smack it again.

"I'm Here, Now What?"Edit

Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer

Starbase 616

Jacen walked through the chaos of this particular station with a smile. He'd finally gotten off of Earth to his first ship assignment. Not that he minded the year he spent as an aide back at the Academy, but he was just finally out in space!

This was the first time he'd ever been off Earth and he loved it. Granted he'd done his zero-g training and shuttle pilot training, but he'd always seen his homeworld, never being out of sight of it meant to him that he's never really left. But now he had and he couldn't wait to get to the Miranda.

He carried all he'd need for now. Uniforms, some clothes and a few mementos from home. Mother wouldn't let him leave without them, so he had little choice. Though it was funny how he already started to miss Earth a bit, mainly Baltimore. Something about home made him smile, he was still green and he knew it. But he had his chance and he planned on taking it.

He looked forward to everything. He wasn't to thrilled with a rommie, but that could go several ways, it all depended on him and the meshing of personalities. After a few turns, right and wrong ones, he found the shuttle he was looking for. He didn't even look back as it left 616 for Miranda, he'd seen enough of it anyway.

He was that kid in the candy store, eyes big with anticipation. After all the paperwork and getting his PADD, he'd be off to his new quarters and ready to start his new assignment.

"The Calm Before The Storm"Edit

Lt. Jamus Jaxom
Lt JG Aurelia Jaxom

USS Miranda
Mess Hall

They had first met in a corridor of the USS Colombia, both of them hurrying to get to their destination and neither of them looking where they were going. The resulting collision had been inevitable and naturally had ended with a coffee date in the mess hall several hours later.

This time around was no less comical but she rather doubted it would have the same outcome.

Aurelia picked up the computer PADD that she'd dropped and pushed herself off the ground with as much dignity as she could muster. Jamus remained still. Apparently he had seen her first and the shock had frozen him to the spot ... where Aurelia had almost run him over. She needed to learn to stop trying to read and walk at the same time.

She took a deep breath, told herself that she was a grown-up and a professional, and was not terribly surprised when 'what the hell are you doing here' came shooting out of her mouth. Aurelia felt the points on her invisible scoreboard subtracting.

Over and over his mind told him, 'Be the bigger person, don't insult her. Be the bigger person, don't insult her.' So, for once since they'd split up, he didn't start off with an insult to her maturity, clumsiness, or anything else.

"What am I doing here?" Jamus asked as calm as he could be, "I've been assigned here. I belong here. What are YOU doing here?"

Aurelia sighed. "I don't suppose that when you say 'assigned here' you mean something like 'assigned to the station' or 'figment of your imagination'?"

"I mean assigned anywhere within a light year of my assignment," Jamus replied cooly.

"I'm stationed on the Miranda as well. Science and Counseling."

Jamus' face remained neutral but inside his emotions churned away. This had to be some kind of cruel, torturing, cosmic joke. The absolute 'last' thing he needed was for his ex-wife to be on the same ship as he was. He gave a resigned sigh. "Fine. For your own safety then, stay out of my engine room.

That was a another really bad joke, the Trill thought to himself. He wasn't even allowed to go into his own engine room. Through some snafu or other, neither he, nor any of his staff was allowed to enter the actual engine room. Captain's orders he was told. So, until he met Captain Elaithin, he settled for checking other systems and upgrades to the Miranda. The situation was infinitely frustrating but Jamus knew it would get ironed out soon enough.

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. Like I would step one foot in there." There was an awkward silence as Aurelia tried to decide what to say next. They hadn't really ended on a good note. The last thing she had told him was to drop dead which had been both childish and spiteful. And, she'd realized later, conjugated incorrectly. She was pretty fluent in Trill but still made the occasional error, usually when Jamus was involved. "I can't believe you left the Colombia."

Surprised by the non-acidity of Aurelia's reply, Jamus' eyes narrowed a bit suspiciously. "I was kicked off to be honest. O'Hanny decided there wasn't enough room on her for two chiefs. Since he was there first I got promoted to another ship."

"And here I thought it would take nothing short of death to pry you from that engine room."

"You can bet on it on this ship too," Jamus said firmly.

Aurelia tried to smile but it felt more like she was pursing her lips. She felt a definite conflict in her thoughts and again wasn't surprised with her less than diplomatic reply. "You always were a man who knew his priorities, Jay."

Before he could answer, Jamus thought better of it. He knew there was a veiled insult in there somewhere and it would be best not to bait her further. What would be the point? A snappy retort would just make things worse than they already are and all he wanted to do was his job.

"So do you as I recall," he finally told her as he turned to leave.

Aurelia opened her mouth to retort and then closed it just as quickly. She could resort to screaming at him like a harpy or she could try for nice and say that she was just as bad at time management. She hated the former, didn't quite believe the latter.

"What do you say to a truce?" She said to his retreating back.

Jamus stopped in his tracks and turned on his heel. "Truce?" he asked genuinely sounding surprised.

"Yes."

"How can there be a truce when one of us didn't even know there was a fight going on?" he asked not quite believing what he heard. "I've never started anything."

And she had thought Vulcans were too literal. "I mean as in I'll do my best to be civil and you'll do the same."

Jamus' eyes took a quick glance around the room avoiding hers. A thousand different things ran through his mind. Was this a trap? Was she serious? Did she really mean it? When his focus finally returned to Aurelia he answered, "Okay. Fine. I think that will be a good thing. A fresh start as they say?"

She thought that might be a bit much to ask for but just nodded. "Sure, a fresh start. Well, um, I'm going to get something to eat. I'll see you around."

"Good luck on your new assignment," Jamus said before turning to leave. He wasn't sure what to make of the encounter. Time would tell if Aurelia meant what she said. Until then, Jamus simply expected to keep working and doing what he did best.

"You too," Aurelia replied heading in the opposite direction.

Well, she thought. This is going to make the war a bit more challenging.

"Old Times"Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security
Ensign Steven Russell, Security

'When the hell did everything need paperwork on top of paperwork?', Amedea thought to herself as she paged through the roster screens trying to get them more organized for Adan since she really did feel for the guy with having all this on his plate. It made her wish for how this sort of thing was handled before she made the Choice where you just told someone to go do it and check off with whoever and if they didn't you could give them a good crack or two with a weighty stick until they learned.

Dealing with this on top of what she still felt were the most stupid gripes from incoming crew over roommates just made her want to liberate something potent from the galley and just start drinking.

Feeling her head begin to throb, she unthinkingly pulled out a pack of her Laughing Skull cigs from home and was about to light up.

"You know, those things will kill you," Steven said as he looked into the office as he walked by. "Lung cancer or some shit."

"Name me something that's either not going to kill you, is immoral or at least fattening and I'll show you something too boring to have in your life.", Amedea smirked as she put her pack away for later, "Anything new other than the same crap so far?"

Steven stopped and thought, "well, there are always hookers... o wait... immoral." He took a step into the doorway, "same shit, different day. I swear, these recruits I have on my team didn't get trained. It is fracking ridiculous! None of them can shoot, run, fight had-to-hand. It is not like we are at war, yet Starfleet can't train their security officers!"

"Hey...", she said with a hint of mock protest, "I worked with what I had. But in all serious, did talk with our poobah about getting some uptraining schedules going. By the end of it they'll be able to take down anyone with a straw and survive off crap that'd make a denebian gutter worm puke."

Steven smirked. He liked this woman for some strange reason. She seemed to actually know what was going on. "We shall see. Not like some of us who got tossed into a war. These guys have it easy!"

"I missed the war your people had.", she said as she leaned back in the chair and stretched, "But mine had thier own going on for...shit...at least a decade from what we're guessing, likely more. As things got worse keeping up things like calendars kinda got pushed on the backburner."

Steven nodded. He wasn't going to prod for more information on whatever war she was in. "It was no cake walk. Was sure there for awhile I wasn't going to make it. Stuck in caverns on Betazed for months on end waiting for Starfleet to decide how to retake the planet. I don't miss eating dirt to curb the hunger."

"I was a little partial to shoe leather, you can chew on that longer.", she said with a remembrance sigh, "Rubber tends to taste like ass." Inwardly she was rather pleased that there was at least someone good and seasoned around other than Adan, a solid enough triumvirate to get the department ready for anything.

Steven nodded. "Lets just not get into another war where we have to eat dirt and leather. I think I lost 50lbs in those caves. Took forever to get back."

"I hear ya on that.", she said, "Compared to what I was when we first met the Federation, me now, that's fat."

Steven laughed. "I can understand that thinking." Seven looked her over, "you always refer to meeting the Federation and some large war. You look human enough, and there hasn't been a big war that I have heard of, besides the Dominion and some others."

Amedea seemed to look inward briefly as if finding words to use, "Our war was confined to just us, and we were pretty much ignorant of the rest of this.", she started, hand gesturing around, "We pretty much bumped into each other at the ending of our war. Despite us with a paranoia that makes Tholians look downright welcoming, the Federation groups still offered us help and over time, we've rebuilt a shit-ton and about ten or so years ago after we kept nagging, we were finally admitted into the clique. Home's fairly close to the Romulan side of the Triangle, so we've got a good sized bunch of them that started originally with getting the main structures organized that now call our home..home. I really haven't been back there since my Choice, but from what I hear, looking like our next generation's going to be mostly pointy ears."

Steven grimised a little. "Just what we need, more pointed eared little bastards."

"We're not complaining. We're happy to actually have things safe for the little ones to be able to run around and have whatever normal's supposed to be.", she said honestly, "After all this time, we're still working on remembering what the hell that was."

Amedea shrugged, it was all neither here nor there, "Me, I've got this for now until I decide to head off for something else, though that's not all that likely."

"That is good. I need someone to help with all these green recruits!"

"Well, I need to take a break from these rosters so, kick back and tell me what you've got in mind?", she said, "We hash out enough, be a solid something to have the poobah thumb off on."

Steven walked in and sat down. "Nothing much. Just hard for me sit here, standing still, it seems. I am used to being out on the lines, smelling Klingons... shoot them. Not to mention I am still getting used to the fact that I am an officer now."

Amedea nodded, understanding what he meant completely, "It's custom for my people that one's Lord...Leader..whatever you want to title it, that they have to be right up there in the lines fighting along with everyone else. We're extremely soured on the lead dogs sit far away and behind a desk concept, even though it's different here and all. At the Academy, I was often bickering with the department head for the Security training about rusty skills and got the we'll worry about that later schpiel. For me, I'm best with hand to hand combat and survival with only a toothpick in your teeth and holding your fun bits in hand. If we can get a wider diversity for further training going on, it'd be a good start."

"Well I can do the weapons and hand-to-hand. Now all we need is something that is good at recon and infiltration."

She hmm'd softly, mulling things over, "Well, in a make do until better comes along. I can do some with recon and infiltration, but it's more the no holds barred-who dares wins style my people are good at. It's not easy for most to try that route."

Steven nodded in understanding. "I got my recon experience on the fly, not really good at it. Back then it did the job, but now days, I doubt that."

"It's peacetime or the quiet before storms, depending on how you look at it.", she said, "In war, anything goes as far as I'm concerned, but peacetime needs that finesse stuff that I know, I suck at for the most part."

Steven nodded, "well, don't tell the border planets we are at peace. They will just laugh."

"Hell, my people are just waiting for the faintest fart in our direction from the Klingons end to give them some more payback. They had the balls to try to take us on as if we were on your level and we still handed them thier asses...and whatever else got skinned off them. Of course now we've got better tech even with the Romulan beater ships they gave us that they were going to scrap. We've got them packed with surprises over the years."

Steven grinned and stood up. "Well I have to get back to training these kids."

"And I need to get back to these rosters. But draft up something, I'll add to it and we'll roll from there.", she said with a smirk.

Steven nodded and headed out of the office.

"In Which She Has A Date, Part 1"Edit

Cheyenne Summers
Richard

Cheyenne looked in the mirror in her quarters on board the Miranda and ran a brush through her hair. Then, she leaned forward from the waist and flipped her head down, then flipped her hair back, smoothing it down over her shoulders. Looking around, she grabbed her lip gloss from the counter, shoving it into a pocket of her slacks.

Cheyenne checked her appearance one last time, then smiled. "Perfect. And only running ten minutes late. Oh, well," she said to herself, checking her watch. Richard and Lila should be waiting for her right about now in the dining area on the starbase. She headed out the door to her quarters and down the hall, heading for the turbolift.

Cheyenne had a standing appointment with her husband and daughter for dinner at a restaurant, once a week. She was home most nights for dinner, but it was still a treat. Today, with the problems with the refit, various meetings with all and sundry - so it seemed - she hadn't had time to run back to their quarters on the base. Instead, she'd had to get ready on the Miranda.

She stared at the numbers at the top of the turbolift as they ticked off the levels, waiting for her deck to arrive. Her mind wandered to Richard and she smiled, as she always did when she thought about him. It still amazed her that after nine years, it was still an involuntary reaction to smile when she thought about him. His blue eyes still sent a shiver up her back when she wasn't expecting it.

When she'd first laid eyes on him, it was her first posting outside of the Academy. She was a little older than most of the other Ensigns, with more life experience under her belt. Richard was the Chief Science Officer on board the Schrodinger. Normally, the Chief Science Officer and a lowly ensign in the flight department wouldn't have much to do with each other, but they kept ending up together. At first, she'd flown the shuttle for a research trip that he'd taken, to take a closer look at some local nebulae. He'd admitted to her that he never flew himself anywhere, due to a distressing tendency to get lost and/or somehow crash the ship.

++++++++++

8 Years Previous, USS Schrodinger

"'Commander Summers? I'm Ensign Fraser, your pilot for this trip," she said, holding her hand out to be shaken. The man approaching her had striking blue eyes and a head full of dark hair. He was also tall, standing at least 10 centimeters taller than her own 1.78 meters. He reached out and shook her hand, pumping it twice and letting go.

"All right, Ensign. All of my equipment should be aboard, so I'm ready when you are," he replied. Cheyenne stepped aside to let him precede her into the shuttle. She wasn't surprised when he headed back to the stoarge area, presumably to check his equipment. She slipped into her chair and began her pre-flight checks. "Commander, we are getting ready to depart, so you might want to finish up and strap yourself in."

"Understood, Ensign," came floating up from behind her.

"Schrodinger, this is the shuttle Debye, requesting clearance to depart."

"Permission granted, Debye. You have 20 hours before you need to be back on board," came the response from shuttle bay control.

"Understood, control. 20 hours for return. Debye out." With that, Cheyenne initiated the sequence that lifted the shuttle from the shuttlebay floor and took the craft out through the monstrous doors of the shuttle bay. The field protecting the opening allowed the craft through into the inky black darkness beyond. Cheyenne brought the shuttle out and around the bottom of the ship is a wide arc. As she came out from underneath the ship, the beautiful striations within the nebula became visible and Cheyenne drew in a breath.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Summers asked her as he slid into the co-pilot's seat next to her.

"Yes, sir. I don't even know if beautiful covers it. It is simply amazing!" she almost gushed, looking around her as she manuevered the shuttle closer. It would take them almost three hours at warp three to coem close enough to the nebula for the commander to take his readings, and Cheyenne knew that the view would just grow more amazing the closer they got.

"It's one of the reasons that I love being in space. All of these divine images, right in front of me. I grew up seeing pictures of nebulae, star clusters, far-off galaxies, and it always left me feeling so... small," Summers told her, gazing at the nebula himself.

"I understand what you mean, sir. I had the same feeling myself when I was growing up,"

Cheyenne replied, kicking the shuttle up to warp three. "Our ETA is 2 hours, 57 minutes to arrival, sir."

"Very good, Ensign," was the short reply. There was silence in the shuttle for a time, as both grew preoccupied, Summers with his upcoming research Cheyenne presumed. She made no comment as she checked the various readouts and panels in front of her, keeping an eye on the environmental controls, the internal gravity controls, and the autopilot. All of these things in a shuttle were fully automated and inf act did not need anything from her, but an instructor had told her it was better to be hyper-aware and obsessive about checking the gauges and controls than to have an Incident. Cheyenne always felt like she could hear the capitalization whenever he warned her of Incidents. She'd run through several simulations from this instructor in which the oxygen levels crept too high and the computer didn't register it, or some other such instrumentation failure. After the first three spectacular crash and burn endings, she'd learned her lesson.

"All right!" Summers said loudly, bringing high hands together with a resounding clap that almost Cheyenne jumping out of her seat. "Sorry," he said with a chuckle, slightly quieter. "Now, I understand from Lieutenant Perkins that you are a physics buff, particularly astro-physics."

"Well... yes, sir, I am. I got my bachelor's degree before I joined Star Fleet in physics." She was surprised that he'd thought to check with her boss about her interests.

"The only reason that I bring it up is because you might be interested in the goals of this little jaunt. Here, look at this..."

As she leaned towards him to look at the panel in front of him, Cheyenne noticed that he smelled very good. She glanced at him quickly out of the corner of her eyes as she listened intently to his description of his research and what he hoped to find in the nebula.

++++++++++

Just under three hours later, they dropped out of warp to the incredible of the nebula. Colors from every part of the spectrum twisted through the clouds as electrons were excited. As soon as the shuttle came to a stop relative to the cloud, Summers' hand flew over the controls attached to the wall above his equipment. He imagined the slight shudder in the shuttle as his equipment pack was launched from the shuttle into the nebula, sensors twitching with increasing activity. He held his breath until the readings began to come back to the screen in front of him. He exhaled explosively as the data begun to fill the screen and sort itself into appropriate columns, exactly as requested.

"Does everything look like it's running okay?" the ensign called from the pilot's area.

"Working like a dream," he replied, not taking his eyes off the readouts. He felt her come up beside him and lean over, almost against his arm, to look at the data. He shuffled aside slightly to give her more room.

So far in the trip, he was very impressed with this ensign. He'd nodded in appreciation of her looks when he'd first pulled up her service jacket and photo to see who was going to be driving him on this trip. She was pretty, but but no prettier than any other dozens of ensigns he could name. It was her short history that had him more interested, although he would admit that smart and pretty was an unexpected bonus in a shuttle pilot. His normal chauffeur was some lanky boy, only interested in the internal workings of the ships, not the magnificent mysteries to be seen outside the window. He'd been intrigued by her decision, with her background, to pursue a flight track instead of the sciences. From what little he knew about her, she'd be a welcome addition to his research staff.

And on the trip here, he'd only been more impressed. She'd listened quietly, asking insightful and intelligent questions with a forthrightness that interested him. By the time the shuttle had arrived at their destination, he'd assigned her a task in the research, one that was pretty important. That task didn't come to the fore fro several hours in the data gathering, however.

With a reassuring pat to the side of the screen, Richard stepped back and turned towards the cockpit area. "Well, there we go. Sensors are sensing, data is gathering. We should have some interpretable data within the next couple of hours. Until then, I need some coffee." He stepped around the ensign towards his pack, which, in addition to multitudes of scientific equipment, held a giant thermos. He unslung it and pulled it in front of him, heading to seat. He looked at Cheyenne and helf up the thermos invitingly. "Coffee?"

"Sure," she said, finally tearing her eyes away from the display and making her own way back to her seat. She accepted the small travel cup of coffee from him and leaned back in her seat, glancing once at her dashboard in front of her to reassure herself. He filled his own cup and recapped the coffee, trying to make sure that the coffee stayed hot as long as possible. They would need it later in the trip.

"So, Ensign Fraser, do you mind me asking why you aren't in sciences? I was just thinking to myself that with a background like yours, you'd be welcome in any research group in the 'fleet. You'd even be able to pursue a master's or doctorate degree, if you wished. Why flight control?"

"Well, sir-" she began, but stopped when he held up his hand.

"Please, call me Richard. I'm a scientist first, an officer second. Unless the Captain is around," he said with a wink.

She smiled. "And I'm Cheyenne. When I first graduated with my degree, Star Fleet wasn't even on my mind. I wanted to take a little time off from school, work for a year or two, then pursue a graduate degree after that. I ran into some... personal issues after graduation, though, and ended up wandering around aimlessly for a while. For a long while, actually. When my father decided it was time for me to get my head back on straight, I thought about it, and decided to join Star Fleet. I wanted to actually make a difference and help people, outside of a lab. No offense meant, sir." She coughed. "Um... Richard. What with the tensions with the Klingons, not to mention the Dominion War had just ended, I wanted to make sure that I would be in a position to help protect my family if I was needed to. So, I joined Star Fleet. I chose flight control because I've loved to fly since I was a teenager. I used to try to fly anything that I could get my hands on. It made sense to me. Flight also can be used as a step into command track, so that was a bonus as well.

"I keep my hand in my science. Things like this help, and I maintain contacts at Penney-Atmos, the university where I got my degree. I have subscriptions to journals, yadda, yadda, so I haven't completely turned my back. Sciences just wouldn't allow me to get what I needed to out of Star Fleet, and Flight Control would." She took another sip of her coffee.

"Well, that makes sense. And it's always good to have a back up career, just in case a terrible case of peace should break out in the quadrant, and your sacrifices for hearth and home are no longer needed," he said with a smile, tipping his own cup back to get the rest of the coffee.

"What about you, Richard? Why do you even need a pilot for these trips? Is it for the company? It must get lonely out her, especially on research trips longer than a day or two." Cheyenne took another sip of her coffee and set the cup down next to her. She crossed her legs and clasped her hands at her knee, looking at him intently.

"I used to be my own pilot. For two, no, three trips. It only took three trips for the Captain to ground me, and insist that a pilot take me anywhere I want to go. If I understand correctly, he also made a note in my service jacket for any other future commanding officer," Richard say wryly.

"What?!" Cheyenne said, laughing out loud. "What did you do to the shuttles? It can take a lot to get grounded from flying!"

"Well, the first time I got lost. I thought that it was completely understandable, getting lost, but the captain insisted that the computer should be able to prevent that from happening. I told him not to blame the poor computer, because I programmed the wrong coordinates for the return trip. The next time, the captain had someone from navigation program the coordinates in himself, but that was when the warp drive stopped working. I have no idea what happened, but I was out in the middle of nowhere - "

The computer beeped in the background, continuing in it's mindless way to collect the data as it had been told to, completely ingoring the interactions between the two humans in the cockpit.

++++++++++

The computer beeped softly into the still air of the shuttle, indicating that the current processing job had come to an end. It waited for further instructions as a tousled head lifted itself lazily from the floor of the shuttle.

"Oh. Wow, I guess I'm done collecting data. That went a lot faster than I thought it was going to," Richard said, lifting himself to a seated position. He looked down at Cheyenne, still stretched out on the floor beside him. He stood, stretching his arms up, rising up on his toes. Several pops came from his back, and he let out his breath explosively when he came back down solidly on his feet. He looked around the shuttle. "Where're my boxers?"

Cheyenne eyed his form appreciatively. "You don't have to get dressed just for me," she told him, sitting up herself.

"Yeah, I'd feel shy in front of the computer. Plus, I don't think I could present these results to anyone, much less to the captain or at a conference, without thinking that I was naked when I finished collecting the data. Ah, there they are." He leaned over and grabbed a pair of boxers - Property of Starfleet emblazoned in bright red letters across the butt - from the couch along the wall. He slipped into them, then stepped over to the computer, taking a seat in front of it.

With a smile, Cheyenne looked around for her own clothes. The job had gone much more smoothly than she'd imagined. Not only the... immediately previous activities... but Richard was a very easy man to talk to. It felt like they'd talked for hours, only pausing when the computer demanded his attention. Moving from the cockpit to the floor, while not very romantic to be sure, had seemed like a completely natural transition.

She grabbed her pants from the back of the pilot's chair and pulled them up over her legs, sealing the waist before turning to look for her shirt.

By the time Richard joined her, fully dressed, in the cockpit, Cheyenne was plugging the return coordinates into the navicomputer. "So, did you get what you needed?" she asked him, turning to look at him with a smile.

Richard put his hand on her shoulder and dropped a kiss on the back of her neck before taking his own seat. "I think so." I think I have enough data to leave, as well."

"Good, because it's time that we were getting back. Our window is rapidly closing.""All right, Ensign. Take us back to the Schrodinger," he said with a nod.

++++++++++

Present Time, USS Miranda/Starbase 616

The lift came a stop and the doors slid open. Cheyenne stepped out, turning down the corridor She moved towards the hatch that connected the Miranda to the starbase, headed home to her family.

"Candles, Kzinti, and Psych Evaluations"Edit

Lt. Kaori Lokai
Lt. JG Aurelia Jaxom

USS Miranda
Counseling Dept.

Aurelia adjusted the chair before sitting down. Such were the drawbacks of sharing an office but otherwise she and Inez Eines got along fine. Inez had agreed to putting up several pieces from Aurelia's collection of art and she'd agreed to the aromatherapy candles - after making sure their office was a designated smoking area - and dressing up the couch with colorful pillows. And they'd both agreed to never play anything that resembled the current rage with counselors on Earth - a mixture of sappy music combined with Vulcan chants nicknamed 'New Meds' or 'Need Meds' depending on its audience.

Overall, Aurelia thought they had created a warm and welcoming atmosphere for their clients - a place where one could feel safe and comforted.

"Hi Kaori," Aurelia said when her boss entered the office.

"Hi." She looked around a bit before she sat down in an empty seat. She noticed the candles first. She had always thought that the candles added that special feel to the room. "I like what's been done to the place. Kudos to you both." She added with a smile, "I ought to have you decorate mine too." She didn't have much of anything to decorate with, well, at least, not yet.

Aurelia returned the smile. "I'd love to lend a hand. How is your day going?"

"It's going good so far. I've been catching up on the psychological profiles of the senior staff. We have some interesting people on this ship including a Kzinti...chief science officer I believe. I can't wait to read his profile." She leaned forward in her seat, "How about your day. Going well?"

"Pretty good. It's going to be a light day since my two o'clock canceled. I thought I'd read up on that new study about stress and living aboard starships. Possibly prepare a packet on 'avoidance' for my two o'clock." She also leaned forward. "To be honest I feel a little intimidated by the chief being a Kzinti. I don't know much about his culture not to mention they seem a little ... aggressive."

She gave a slight laugh, "They do at that. People are usually uncomfortable with that which they don't understand. We, unfortunately, aren't immune to that. The best way to get over it is to talk to him." She had a thought, "Maybe I should assign him to you for his psychological evaluation." Kaori gave her a smug look.

"Conflict of interest," Aurelia shot back. "Since I work in Sciences as well, it would hardly be fair to either of us." She gave an equally smug look. "So neiner, neiner."

"Oh my God! Did you just neiner me? Yeah, that's real mature."

"I know you are but what am I?"

They both looked at each other and busted up laughing. 'Seriously though, we really need to get started on them."

"I know," Aurelia said with a slight sigh. As much as she liked counseling, mandatory psych evals were rarely any fun. "I'm just not looking forward to the hostility. I'm definitely celebrating with chocolate when they're over."

"Add caramel to the chocolate and I'll join you in the celebration." She rubbed her blue slanted eyes, "I really could use a nap but I have more files to read. It helps to have a point of reference. Is there anything you need from me that you can think of? "

"If you get me a list of names I can start scheduling the evals," Aurelia replied. "Otherwise nothing I can think of."

"Good. I'll get that to you ASAP." She stood up from her chair, "But right now, I need to run. Perhaps we can do lunch or something."

"Sounds like a plan," Aurelia replied, turning back to her computer PADD. She had decided to forgo the study of starships in favor of "My 3 O'Clock Chased Me Around My Office With A Bat'leth (How to Deal with Trouble Patients). She was always a bit suspicious about some of the cases presented but the book usually managed to put her in a good mood.

Kaori left the room, leaving her to catch up on her reading.

Aurelia turned to Chapter One - How to Deal with Sarcasm.

"Hellos and Matters of Greeners"Edit

Lt. Amedea, Sinistrari, Security
Ensign Jacen McAlister, Sciences

On the scale of things, patrol duty was one aspect of the job Amedea never found boring. Even on a posting that was as safe and secure as can be, it gave one the chance to see who else was here as well as get a better grasp on the layout of things that she felt surpassed what one could get from reading schematics. Since it had been quite a while since she last had a starship posting, patrol duty was really filling out it's secondary agenda of getting used to the layout.

As it was, she'd already seen a couple other Mortemondeans, one in janitoral, a couple from the mess halls. A mental note filed to actually sift through the files to see how many were actually here.

She turned down a corridor, noting she was in the recreational/social section, seeing some go to the gymnasium. Passing the chapel, she wondered who'd they'd gotten to represent the faiths of her world for the holo-chaplan.

Jacen was walking toward the Chapel in his cloak and reading over a PADD. Not paying attention, he rounded the corner and into the woman in front of him. While neither fell, he did drop his PADD, "Oh Gods!" He had his hand on her arm to make sure she didn't fall and released her when she didn't. He looked down and got his PADD, making sure she hadn't dropped anything either, "I'm so sorry. Are you alright?"

Amedea couldn't help but chuckle. "Please, I've been hit harder in my days. Question is, you okay or do you need a sit down?"

Jacen smiled, "No, thank you though. I'm good." He brushed his cloak, "I'm just off to the chapel, more to see what it's like. But I figured I could do some meditation while I was there. I tend to practice in my quarters, but sometimes it's nice to get out."

He looked past her to the chapel, "Did you just come from there?"

"Not quite. On patrol but also taking advantage of learning the layout of the ship more. It's been years since I've been on one, been at the Academy on the teaching roster before this.", she said as she looked into the chapel, "Can't get much blander than that set up though."

He nodded, "Amen to that. But I guess that HQ can't show support for one belief over the other." He looked at her again when the Academy mention finally hit him, "That's where I remember your face from! I never had one of your classes, but I was the aide to the Science Head for the last year. I sorry you had to leave, hope a ship posting will be as enjoyable for you."

"And this is always remembered.", she said with a smirk as she lightly tapped the skull stud bolted in, "But I was feeling the wanderlust so I put in for whatever ship posting was still good and here I am. We'll see where the road takes me as we say back home."

"That's right, your Mortemondean. I've always admired your people, I'm sometimes envious, but I guess that is usual for some poeple. I've also been envious of Bajorans too, but that's another story."

"With us, we know what works for us and don't particularly care or bother about the rest. Bajorans, I've always considered them the wildcards. Decent, but you really don't know until the card's turned over. I've been around good ones and others that had the stick up the ass so there you go."

He smiled again, he really liked this one, "I know. I had a classmate that was all about his Prophets being the only way to believe. But there are always those types in any species."

He put his PADD in a pocket and took a relaxed stance, "So what do you do for down time? I'm always looking for a workout partner and to be honest, your really the first person I've met, besides my rommie."

"I usually hit the gym, but I do sketch and paint a lot.", she said, "And outside of shift, I tend to keep odd hours anyway so I'm more or less constantly going."

"Sweet. I still don't know what shift I'm on yet. I don't report for duty until the Department Head shows up and I think I beat whoever it is by a day or so, not sure. But I can understand constantly going, I'm the same." He really liked this one, she seemed something of a kindred spirit, or it could just be his imagination, "People sometimes think I'm running from something, but I just can't stay still. I need something to keep me busy or entertained."

"I'm on beta for now, that can change as we get more reporting in. We've got a lot of fresh ones so we've got to break them in on how to be seasoned. Don't think your group in Science gets that problem.", she said.

He chuckled, "We may, depending on who we get in. Don't let the blue shirt fool you, Sciences can have dictators or tree huggers as much as any group. I've got a friend on Starbase 12 who runs his department with an iron fist." He thought about how he'd react to someone running his new assignment like that, he hoped not though, "I"m just as fresh as your newbies, so I'll need to be seasoned along with 'em, I'm sure. But from what I remember of your reputation as a teacher, I think your greeners will be in good hands."

Amedea still couldn't quite envision what sort of hardassery would happen in Sciences, but then, what did she know? "Well, green or seasoned, we all have to have the chops to've been assigned here.", she said with a grin.

Jacen grinned back, she was a character and he knew he'd need that on a ship posting, someone to keep things interesting, "I guess. But all I got is my MIT background and my four years at the Academy, so I must have done something right."

He looked back at the chapel, "I better let you get back to your rounds before I get you in trouble. My first day here and that wouldn't look good to the higher ups."

"Perhaps I'll see you later in the mess hall, if not, well, I'm not hard to find.", she said with a smile, "See you around then."

He bowed slightly with a friendly smile, "You got it. Take care and keep the other greeners in line for the rest of us." He waved to her as he made his way into the chapel.

"A Different Sort"Edit

Dr. Lt. West
Dr. Lt. Wolfson

He didn't so much sit as he sprawled on the chair, thumbing half-heartedly through a combination of the latest medical journals (boring) and entertainment magazines (slightly less boring) stored on the well-used PADD. The available library - at least in this part of the ship - was rather limited. How was someone like him supposed to keep entertained while they waited? Admittedly, there was always nurse-watching, but that got old rather fast when some of these people looked like they could be his kid.

Exasperated, he tossed the PADD onto one of the small tables set beside the chair in the tiny waiting area and checks the time on the chrono set in the wall. The CMO should be arriving at any time now. Unless, of course, the bloke decided that he wanted to really unpack first before he meandered in here. That was always a possibility. Not everyone was as fond of putting off the unpacking until the last possible moment as he was.

The rest of sickbay seemed to be in as much of a lull as he was. No patients were waiting to be treated on the beds and the nurses and other staff were off filing paperwork or one of the dozens of little jobs that any clinic has to perform during a day. He was about to ask if there was anything he could do to assist when the doors to sickbay swished open to reveal someone who was actually taller than he was. Not by much, mind, but there was definitely a noticeable difference. The bloke was blonde-haired, blue-eyed and he noticed that his uniform had the rank bars of a lieutenant sewn onto his sleeves. This must be the new CMO. West something or other, right?

He gave the man a minute to take a look around the sickbay before he stepped forward, holding out his hand. "Dr. West? I'm Dr. Jerry Wolfson. Your ACMO."

As a matter of fact, Robert *had* been unpacking. After giving the Captain his physical, he thought it would be best to go ahead and settle in before looking over sickbay completely. The process didn't take long: his quarters were essentially a glorified walk-in closet, but that didn't much matter. He fully expected that a great deal of his nights would be spent in his office anyway.

Robert regarded the middle aged doctor before him with an expression that seemed to suggest he was deep in thought about a completely unrelated matter. In fact, it was the expression he always wore when his deductive mind was in full swing.

"Wolfson..." he began, slowly, "...yes...yes....the Engineer-turned-Doctor?" he didn't take the hand being offered him, as if not noticing it was even there.

"Aye, that's true," Jerry replied. The bloke had probably read his dossier. "Pleasure to meet you, sir." He dropped his hand, not taking offense at the lack of the traditional hand-shake. Bit odd, mind, but the man must have a lot on his mind. Shaking hands was probably the last thing he was thinking about.

Robert stared blankly into space for several moments...enough to make Dr. Wolfson wonder if that was the end of the conversation. Then, as if nothing were out of the ordinary, his gaze returned to the mildly confused ACMO.

"Quite a ship, quite a ship..." he off-handedly remarked. Then, because his curiosity couldn't contain itself, "Tell me, doctor, have you by chance heard of me before from anyone?" his expression was one of extreme interest. Not ego, but genuine curiosity. He wanted to know if his new ACMO had any preconceived notions about him from the get-go.

Jerry blinked. Blimey, this man was rather full of himself. No...maybe not so full of himself. Insecure? "To be honest, sir, I don't care about scuttlebutt. It's got its uses, but I prefer to make my own conclusions. Makes things easier."

Robert just nodded in an absent-minded fashion. He appeared to be searching for something, but for what, Jerry had no idea.

"What shift would you like me to run, sir?" Jerry asked. He'd use one of his offshifts to take care of the recreation deck. It'd become something of a joke on his previous post that he rarely slept, but his philosophy was to work hard, but play harder. Though his position meant he was in charge of the recreation deck, he regarded that as less of a job and more of a pleasure.

Dr. West ceased his quest to find whatever imaginary object his eyes were searching for and brought them to rest back on his ACMO.

"Shift?" he began, in his signature roller-coaster speaking pattern "Ah, right, yes yes, of course. Well I'm ExpectedToCoverTheAlpha shift of course, 0600 to 1200 hours. You'll be TakingTheBetaShiftAfterMe starting at 1200 until 1800 hours each day. Of course TheEntireMedicalStaffIsOnCall at all times InCaseOfAnEmergency."

Robert's eyes went back to their previous searching.

"Of course. Is everything all right, sir?" he asked, curious. The CMO shook his head, waving off the question.

"Fine, fine." he stated, somewhat unconvincingly, "I am told that YouWishToBeGiven recreation responsibilities?"

"One of my specialties is in sports medicine, sir, and my last post had me in charge of the recreation deck. If you've no objections, I would like to maintain that responsibility along with my duties as ACMO. Neither will interfere with the other, I assure you." Jerry would make certain of that. He was old enough to know his own limits, and the instant one duty interfered with the other, he would give up the recreation position. "It's been my philosophy that one of the best ways to ensure that a crew is healthy is also to see that they can work hard, but play harder. Tends to mean that there are fewer doctor's visits later on in the mission if they can't do the latter."

Robert listened intently, for what seemed to Jerry to be the first time.

"That sounds FineDoctorISeeNoProblem with giving you ThatResponsibilityAsWell. I hate to cut ThisShortButIHave a full plate of physicals to attend to." "Of course, sir. Thank you. Pleasure to meet you, again," Jerry said. He'd have his own set of physicals to perform when he was on duty. That was the problem with the first few days of a new posting. Lots of new people, lots of new physicals. No matter, though. He'd use this time to take a look around the recreation deck and determine just what they had and what they might need in the future.

The CMO nodded and disappeared into the organized chaos that was Sickbay, while Jerry turned and walked out the door. Dr West was definitely a different sort, but he could work with him and, in the end, that was all that mattered.

"Making Room"Edit

Lt. JG Aurelia Jaxom
Lt. JG Iniara Sola

USS Miranda

The first thing she did after entering her new quarters was to strip her bed of its standard issue Federation (ie tacky) comforter.

"Better already," Aurelia said. She went back into the living room and took a few minutes trying to lug her two large suitcases into the bedroom - pushing, pulling, and praying - before giving up. The cases had been made on Betazed and while wonderful for packing everything a girl might want were practically guaranteed to make you throw out your back. Aurelia shook out her cramping hands and then decided to open them up in the living room. She opened the first suitcase and pulled out the luxurious silk comforter Ada had given her as a going away present. "Better still."

Aurelia was smiling when the door opened. "Hi."

Stepping into the small room, Iniara considered the other woman for a moment before replying. "You must be my roommate."

"I'm Aurelia. Or 'Rel if you prefer. And I promise I will have these monsters out of here by the end of the day."

"Not a problem," Iniara commented, her black eyes gleaming mirthfully. Already she was wondering how Aurelia was going to fit the contents of both cases into the room's storage compartments. "I'm Iniara," she continued, sticking out a hand. Aurelia shook it.

"So, by the color of your jacket I take it that you're in the Sciences division?"

"Yes, in the Psychology branch. I'm also in the Counseling department. So I'm very good at lending an ear." Aurelia set the comforter aside and started to make a small pile of the items she couldn't live without since it would be a pain to get into the cases again once they were in storage. "Which department are you in?"

"Operations. I'm the new Communications Officer...so I guess in a way I'm good at lending an ear too." Iniara chuckled as she set her duffel onto the unclaimed bunk. She looked down into the crate Aurelia was currently rummaging through. "So, got anything interesting in there?"

"Somewhat. I have a lot of school notebooks and such. Mementos from trips, Vulcan meditation candles, some pieces of art for my office ... oh, that reminds me! I have a wall hanging of Janaran Falls that would look great in here if you don't mind."

"Always good to be reminded of home." The tone of Iniara's voice suggested that she would be genuinely happy to have something like that in their quarters. Aurelia started on the other case. "I've always been a bit of a pack rat. There are psychological issues there but I'm not really sure I want to address them."

"I won't tell if you won't."

The counselor started moving the leftover contents of one case into the other. "How do you like the ship so far?"

"Well enough, I suppose. This is the first place I've been since I arrived, so I haven't seen much aside from the shuttlebay, a turbolift, and a few hallways. The new Ops Chief hasn't yet arrived, so hopefully I'll have some time to look around before officially reporting for duty. Sickbay will probably be my next stop, though. I don't suppose you've heard any of the rumors about the new CMO, have you?"

"Just that he's a bit difficult, although no one elaborated on how he was difficult. I'm assuming some kind of bad bedside manner?"

Iniara was about to respond when the door chime interrupted her mid-thought. "With luck this will be my crates," she commented, moving from the small bedroom back into the living area. A moment later, two sizable thumps announced the arrival of yet more stuff.

"This is going to be fun." Looking at the four crates now covering most of the living room's open floor space, Iniara chuckled again and ran a hand through her hair. "I got good at this on my stepfather's ship. One way or another we'll fit it all in here."

"Not to worry," Aurelia said. "These cases collapse when empty. I'm going to consolidate the things I don't need into one of the cases, along with the other case ... it changes into a cube, can you believe it ... and then store them in the cargo bay. So there should be plenty of room."

"Related question. I'm a bit of a musician. Will you mind if I play in here, or should I try to finagle some practice space out of my boss when he arrives?"

The other woman grinned. "I'd love it! It's so much nicer to research with music playing." Her smile faded a bit as she thought of something. "What kind of musician are you?"

"A pretty well-rounded one." Iniara squatted before one of her cases, unlocking it and pushing the lid off. Inside were at least a half dozen smaller cases of various shapes and sizes. "Let's see...there's a Betazoid aurem, which is a sort of flute, a Vulcan lyre, a Vulcan...shakuhachi I think would be the closest analogue, a Trill instrument called a 'mezdzeen' I think, which I haven't had a chance to play and so I haven't the slightest idea what it sounds like..." She stood, her gaze still fixed on the case of cases, one part of her mind already trying to figure out how she was going to fit all these things in here. These quarters weren't nearly as large as the ones she'd been assigned on Starbase 58.

"Anyway, most of what I play is traditional, although sometimes I do a little improvising with more modern styles. Is there any music or instrument in particular that you prefer?"

"Anything but that meditation crap I've been hearing lately," Aurelia said, relieved she was getting a roommate that could play - and from instruments that she had enjoyed during her stay on both Betazed and New Vulcan.

"Ohhh, no no no, definitely not," Iniara said with a brisk shake of her head. She bent forward over the crate, pulling out two of the smaller cases, then paused mid-motion as her stomach groaned loudly, the rumbling clearly audible in the otherwise quiet room.

It was then that Iniara realized that, aside from a quick snack she'd shared last night with Aron between sessions of...other activities, she hadn't had a full meal since breakfast the day before. Too busy, maybe too excited; whichever. Her face flushing slightly in embarrassment from the completely undignified noise, Iniara looked up at Aurelia and smiled sheepishly. "So, what say we get a little more done here and then go check out the mess hall? I'm not expecting much out of the cooking, but I think my stomach would appreciate it."

"The cooking's not bad and I could definitely eat some food," She replied. "Give me ten minutes and I'll be ready to go."

"Sounds good to me." Iniara settled into a position on the floor while she continued to tinker with her instruments, a relieved smile making its way across her features. Changing assignments was always stressful; thankfully she'd been lucky enough to get a roommate who was friendly and interesting, instead of just tolerant or not hostile. Maybe this tour wouldn't be so bad after all.

"New Home, New Roomie, Interesting Times"Edit

Lt. Jerry Wolfson, ACMO, USS Miranda
Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer, USS Miranda

Junior Officers Quarters, USS Miranda

Jacen walked in to his new home and found that whoever he was living with was already here and gone. He just shrugged and moved to the unclaimed bed. He removed his belongings and set up his pictures, God and Goddess statues, his chalice, athame and a few crystals and put his medicine bag in the bottom drawer with his duffle. He wanted to bring his besom, but knew better. He'd just have to make a new one, so he may have to go back to 616 for a few items, or check the ships stores for what he'd need. But that was all in good time.

He looked around the quarters and they seemed decent. He'd like to add his own touch, but knew that would wait until he got his own. The head was the sticking point, he'd learned from his time at the Academy that planning out who uses it when helped more than either would know.

He decided to check the terminal and see who was in his department, he still didn't even know who his Department Head was. And it never hurt to find if you knew anyone on board, especially since he had time to kill.

The door swung open with a soft swishing noise, revealing a middle-age man with graying hair. He paused before he stepped in, taking in the appearance of the other half of the room. His bed was still undisturbed from earlier, still sporting the pile of his belongings - his version of unpacking. He smiled and stepped inside, letting the door close behind him. "Hello," he said, greeting his new roommate. "I'm Jerry. Dr Lt Jerry Wolfson, if you want to be formal."

Jacen looked him up and down before answering, "Hi, I'm Jacen, Ensign Jacen McAlister. And what kind of doctor are you?" Jacen tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice, but he felt that he didn't do a good job.

"Medical doctor," Jerry replied. "Been one for, oh, a few years now. Where're you assigned?"

"Sciences," he answered dryly. He did another look and got up, "So they put me with a Sick Maker. Great."

He sighed, "Sorry, that was rude." He walked up and extended his hand, "Pleasure to meet you."

Jerry half-arched an eyebrow and grasped the offered hand, pumped once, and released. "Nice to meet you, Jacen. Pardon me if I appear rude myself, but what do you mean 'sick maker'?" His accent thickened sightly and he cleared his throat, trying to wake himself up. He'd already had a long day that was apparently about to get longer. Sick maker? What was that supposed to mean? Unless it meant exactly what it said on the tin...

"I have a low opinion of Medical Doctors. Frankly, they never seemed interested in fixing a problem, just the symptoms," he replied. He really tried to stay kind and gentle in his answer, but the undertone of disapproval was still there, "So, I've been calling them 'sick makers' since I was eight, believeing they make people sick by keeping them sick."

He was honestly surprised. "Really? Is there going to be a problem with us rooming together? I can put in a request for a transfer of quarters." It actually didn't occur to him to ask if Jacen could do the same. He preferred to have a distinct lack of conflict when he was at what he considered his 'home'. Came from his time married to Helen. There'd been enough conflict there to last him a lifetime. Two, if he were honest.

Jacen's eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Honestly? Dude, I may not like medical doctors, but I wouldn't ask you to leave. All I ask is that you keep the profession at the door, like I do. No sense in talking shop while off duty." He felt his face flush while he talked, he'd really put his leg in his mouth. He chuckled lightly, "Gaia willing, I just made a horrid first impression. Sorry, but some old habits and knee jerk reactions die hard."

He leaned on the desk, "So why Medical? With those hands, I'd have taken you as a geologist or that you missed a career as an Engineer."

"A geologist? Not a fan of rocks, me. Used to be an engineer, though, in another life." His eyes grew distant as he remembered the Horizon, and the subsequent tragedy. "A lot of people died on my watch, and I couldn't save them. Best thing for it was for me to switch careers. It was the only way I could live with myself. Preferred saving lives to watching them die before me." He was rather proud of himself. He'd managed to speak without his voice breaking, or even conveying how much Emily's death still bothered him. At least, that was what he told himself.

Jacen actually smiled, "That seems like the best reason. Sorry for what happened, hopefully something good came out of it. I've always tried to look for the silver line of any cloud. So do you specialize in anything or are you one of those 'jack of all trades'?"

"Sports medicine and general practice. So yes and no. I also happen to be in charge of the recreation deck," Jerry replied. "Work hard and play harder is my motto. How 'bout yourself? Any specialties in science?"

Jacen really smiled, "Rec Deck? Oh, you and I will get along fine. I play hard, even if I don't play well." He pulled himself up on the desk and crossed his arms, "As far as my job, I mostly orient towards technological, I love engineering and science. So with the help of an ancient American coin, I flipped for it and Science won. I guess I'm kinda a 'jack of all trades' in some respects. I'd like to be put into Research and Development, but I'm good with just about anything. I love to know how things work and how to fix them, but more so the whole why they work."

If the bloke liked technology, why didn't he end up in engineering? Still. R&D had its uses. "Sounds like a good job for you. Not often people find their niche."

Jacen scoffed playfully, "Hardly. Even after MIT and the Academy, I'm still not sure. Don't get me wrong, I have a career in the fleet or civilian life, but I'm still feeling something is missing. That's why I was so looking forward to a ship posting, maybe I'll find what I'm looking for out among the stars instead of in Baltimore. Or on Earth. No matter what, I couldn't have stayed in one place, I had to get out and move. Maybe I'll slow down one day, but I've got too much bottled up inside. I thought I'd slow down once I turned thirty, but that bottled up drive just got more determined."

He was running? Running away or running to? Blimey, he wasn't a psychologist. "I hope you can find what you're looking for," he finally said.

"Me too," replied Jacen. He thought that he could definitely get past the medical side of this one, he liked him. Not so seemingly egotistical as the other Sick Makers he'd met, "My sister keeps telling me that all I need is to find the right guy, but I'm not so sure."

Here Jerry felt to be on more solid ground. He'd met his right woman, lost her, found her again - or so he thought - and lost her again in a haze of divorce. It was only now, years later, that he wondered if he'd only married Helen, not because of the pregnancy or merely the fact that he loved her, but because she reminded him in some small way of Emily. But he didn't want to think about that. Not right now. "Finding the right person will change you," he said. "For good or for bad. Who knows if that's what you're really looking for. The only one who can answer that is you."

"True and only in time. I'm still green, this is my first time away from Earth. So it will just take time and experience. Who knows, maybe all this trying to find what I think I'm missing is nothing more than just putting something on myself. And I've been in love and it wasn't what I thought it would be, but it also may not have been real love either. I'd like to think I'm smart enough to know that, somehow."

He nodded. "Think you're going about it in the right way. Who knows, really, what the future'll hold."

Jacen held up his hands to the ceiling, "By that Gods, as long as it isn't another Dominion War." He slapped his hands back down on his legs and smiled, "But I'll take a few friends, good times and maybe some lovers here and there to keep things interesting." He laughed and smiled more, glad that he was getting along with his Sick Maker rommie. And he really wasn't thinking of him as a Sick Maker anymore, just a new person who would be sharing some of his off time with. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

"Aye, generally does. I just have a request that you don't bring anyone back to our quarters. Or, if you do, let me know ahead of time so I can make myself scarce. I'll do the same if the situation arises." Not that he really thought it would. But he'd not been planning on meeting anyone when Emily fell over him, so he couldn't predict what might happen in the next few months and years.

He laughed, "Dude, you got it. But I can't say I'm lookin' for anyone right now, left a good one back in San Francisco. Besides, I tend to watch the men before making a move. And I can make myself scarce quick, so I won't need a lot of warning."

Jerry nodded. "Sounds like a plan."

"Oh, one more thing," Jacen slid off the desk, "I think we also need to work out something when it comes to the head. But I know that depends on who's working what shift. Do you clean up before or after your duty shift?"

"Depends on what happens during the duty shift. Normally, I take a shower before I start duty - I'm on Beta shift. But, since I never know if I'm going to encounter something that's going to get me messy during the day, I may need to take another shower when I get off duty. What's your schedule?"

"Don't know, the Department Head isn't in yet, that I'm aware of anyways. I don't even know who it is, that's what I was looking up when you walked in."

Jerry nodded. "Well, let me know. We can work out schedules as soon as you know what shift you're on." He moved to his pile of things and began putting them away, slowly but surely clearing his bed of his belongings. He paused as he came to his holo of Kenzie, smiling as he set it in a place of honor on his dresser.

Jacen noticed the look but not the picture and smiled, "Well, I'll leave you to your unpacking. I'm just gonna change and head over to the chapel."

He replaced his uniform for a more civilian look and put on his cloak, "I'll see you later Doc." He waved and gabbed a PADD before heading out.

"Tools Of The Past, Problems Of The Present"Edit

Dr. Jerry Wolfson, ACMO
SCPO. Lorelai MacRae, Engineering Systems Specialist

Sickbay, USS Miranda

'What a waste of time!' Lorelai thought to herself as she stormed down the corridor. She was starting to get quite sick of the Starbase engineers and their constant interference. It would have been easier to have done the work herself.

They'd been fine at the outset. "Just tell us what needs to be done," they said, "and we'll get it done for you."

'Ha!' She laughed internally with a not inconsiderable amount of scorn. First she'd had to help direct the work and lay it all out. Then, when she'd checked the first time, the work had not even been started. That was understandable to a point, you can't be everywhere and there were other ships needing varying levels of maintenance from the station based crews. Then, on the second pass, she found that the work had been done...to possibly the most minimal standard that would be acceptable. So here she was, double checking everything that had been done so far. All the new crew and personnel arriving, including the senior staff, and several key systems were barely up to the job.

It wasn't good enough, not on her watch.

She turned the corner and strode into sickbay. One of the refitted EPS taps was located in a bulkhead in there and making sure the power to sickbay was uninterrupted was a top priority.

She saw a man working at one of the terminals. She didn't recognize him but his tunic indicated he was with the medical department and the stripes around his cuffs showed him the be a Lieutenant.

"Doctor?" She inquired.

Jerry looked up and smiled. "That'd be me. Well, one of them. Dr Jerry Wolfson. Call me Jerry. Or Doctor Jerry, Doc, even Wolfson in a pinch, Senior Chief. What can I do for you?" He let the programme he was running carry on doing its job. Minor diagnostics, really, and not exactly part of his job, but something that the engineer in him still wanted to keep an eye on.

“A pleasure, Doctor. Although please don’t take offence if I say I hope we don’t see much of each other – professionally at least.”

Jerry laughed. "Don't mind that at all. In a perfect world, it'd be wonderful if no-one ever got sick or injured. Might make my life a bit boring, but I can always switch back to my first career. Hope it's not an aversion to doctors, though."

“No, not an aversion to doctors – just the usual getting sick or injured.” She smiled. He seemed nice enough, older than she’d have thought for a doctor of his rank. She figured him for being about her age, maybe slightly older. Maybe he'd been a civilian doctor?

"Can't blame you," he replied.

“I need to check the new EPS taps that have been put in.” She said, jabbing a thumb towards the bulkhead. “I just want to make sure it’s working as it should be. We don’t want a power failure or a plasma fire, least of all in here.”

"Definitely not. Thought the power was getting a little tetchy, so I'm running a quick diagnostic." He turned the terminal monitor towards the Senior Chief, revealing the results of the diagnostic. "I was an engineer in a previous life. Thought I'd save your lot a run down here if I thought I could fix it."

“An engineer, really?” Said Lorelai with a slight surprise as she took in the readouts. Transferring departments was not unheard of; sometimes operations staff moved to engineering, engineering to tactical but to move into medical meant he must have trained as a doctor. She wasn’t sure what the time frame was on doing that but she knew it wasn’t quick. “That’s quite a change.” She replied as she tapped a few buttons on the console. The power flicked slightly as the plasma flow rerouted through a pre-existing conduit. “That’ll need a moment to cool.” She added, as she walked over and knelt down to start releasing the seals on the access hatch. “So why the change, if you don’t mind me asking?”

"I was the Chief Engineer on the USS Horizon," he replied. "I wasn't able to stop the warp core explosion, so we evacuated the ship. I'd got severe plasma burns while I was trying to hold the ship together long enough for everyone to escape. The medical division on that ship wasn't divided properly amongst the shuttlecraft, and thirty two people died because of it." He swallowed harshly and continued, in a quieter voice, "Including my wife. Rudimentary medical abilities couldn't cut it. So I decided that I preferred saving lives to watching them die in front of me. I went back to school and became a doctor. I still like to keep my hand in engineering, though. If you lot don't mind, I'd like to keep an eye on the medical equipment in here and see what I can do with it if something breaks down."

Lorelai, still kneeling, stilled. She remembered when the Horizon was destroyed, or rather when the report of the incident was issued the following year. It was of particular interest to her at the time as she had just made first-class and been assigned to work on the warp-core of the Loki. More than that, however, she also knew the pain of losing someone dear - although she took comfort in the fact that nothing could have been done to save Alex. It was just an accident. "I'm sorry." She said, turning and looking up over her shoulder. It didn't seem enough but what else could she say in a situation like that.

There was a shadow of a smile on his face, though it didn't even make the attempt to reach his eyes. He knew she meant well. And, perhaps, that she knew what it was like to lose someone you...he curbed the thought. It wasn't normally something he broadcast. Losing Emily. The Horizon. It was right there for anyone to see in his dossier, but not many bothered to look that deep into his past. "Thank you. It was a long time ago, now."

'Yes, yes it was.' Thought Lorelai, more about her own situation than that of the doctor but the same obviously applied. She settled for a silent, somber, nod of the head.

"Blimey, forgot my manners, though. Here I am, spouting off about my past and I don't even know your name. Willing to tell me, Senior Chief?" he asked, winking at her.

She smiled. He'd certainly picked up a few tricks being a doctor, that ability to change the subject to something far more cheerful - although she thought the wink was a bit much. "MacRae, Lorelai MacRae." She replied.

"Pleasure, Senior Chief MacRae," he said, smiling a bit more genuinely this time.

The small, automatic, safety seal on the access port shifted with an audible clunk indicating that the temperature inside the conduit had cleared to a safe working level. "Now," said Lorelai, pulling one of the myriad of tools from her belt and looking back up at Wolfson, "how about that EPS tap."

He arched an eyebrow, just ever so slightly. "What about-?" He paused, glancing between her, the tools, and the open conduit. "You want some help? Good at holding tools, me." He didn't want to intrude where he wasn't wanted. Yes, he used to be an engineer, but that wasn't his position on this ship right now. He was a doctor. The recreation chief, too.

Lorelai peered into the conduit, seemed to glance around in it, and then came back out. "Actually, I think I'll be alright. It appears to be quite a small problem; the manifolds on the tap are locked in place so they can't compensate for variations in the plasma flow - hence all the power fluctuations." She swapped one of her tools for another. "I just need to pop them loose and you'll be up and running in no time."

He nodded. "Thank you. Let me know if I can help or if you need anything."

"Ach, I should be fine." The muffled voice came from inside the conduit, the only evidence of a person was the coverall-covered legs and thick soled boots. "Although, if you do feel like helping out you should speak to Lieutenant Jaxom. We'll need to run some damage control training courses to get some crew certified. I'm sure you're presence will be more than welcome."

Jerry thought about that for a minute. Damage control was something he could do, however his place in an emergency was actually here. In Sickbay. Preparing to receive and deal with triage patients and other serious injuries. That duty was just as important, if not more so than damage control. "I'd take you up on that offer, Senior Chief, but-"

There was an audible click as the restraining bolt popped loose. Lorelai grabbed the lip of the hatch and pulled herself out. "Although, that said, I guess your battle station would be in here."

He nodded. "Exactly. There aren't many doctors on board this ship. They need all they have to deal with emergencies."

"Well," Lorelai said as she knelt back down and began resealing the access point, "if you want to do the certificate at a later date it'd be little more than a refresher." She pulled out her tricorder and scanned the seals - all clear. The last thing she needed would be a breach...given it might well be the actual last thing she, or the doctor, saw. "Okay," she said tapping at the console, "crunch time." She hit the transfer sequence and the plasma made an audible throb as it passed back through the conduit. "How's your diagnostic looking now, Doctor?"

He tapped a few keys on the keyboard and nodded. "Everything's in the green. Looks like the power's flowing as it should. Just in case, I'll let the diagnostic continue to run for the next few hours, see if we can get any more fluctuations. I can let you know the results?"

"If you like, although I'll take no news as good news at this point. There's so much going on around here at the moment that things are in danger of getting lost in the shuffle. Still, new crew such as yourself coming aboard everyday, I'm sure we'll crack it."

Jerry's smile widened slightly. "Yup. True enough. I can guarantee you that I'll keep an eye on everything here in Sickbay from both a medical and an engineering perspective, and call one of you lot to come out and fix it as needed."

"That, Doctor," Lorelai replied, "is the best news for my health you could possibly given me." She broadened her own smile. "I'd better get going. Until next time, Doctor, although as I say, hopefully not for a while." She turned to leave. "Oh, and welcome aboard."

"Thank you, Senior Chief," he replied and returned his attention to some of the paperwork that he'd pushed aside to run the diagnostic.

"Echo"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Lieutenant Nathan Everett

Combat Information Center
Deck Eight

It was a pleasant surprise for Captain Elaithin to enter the C-I-C and actually find a compartment aboard this ship that was squared away. It was enough, really, to make a CO nervous, given the frenetic level of activity aboard the rest of his ship.

"Captain on -” the watch officer near the door started to call before Jii waved him off.

"Just looking for Lieutenant Everett, PO."

"He's at the situation monitor, sir."

"Thank you, PO," Jii acknowledged, and then moved toward the large table with the floating holographic display above it. Over the table was detailed every bit of activity in and around Starbase 616, displayed in real time. There were gaps here and there, however, he noticed as he approached.

Studying said display carefully was the man Jii had come looking for. Lieutenant Everett was tall for a human, with the build to match it, and his icy blue eyes were narrowed in concentration as the new Tactical Chief examined the frenetic activity surrounding Starbase 616. He was leaning forward, his hands lying flat on the edge of the table to support himself. As Jii approached, he noticed one of the younger man's hands clench into a fist, a sign of frustration.

"Hatfield!" barked Everett suddenly. An ensign quickly appeared at his side, and Nathan pointed at the various gaps in the holographic information. "Why am Ah seein' nothin' here when there oughta be the opposite?"

Ensign Hatfield looked more perplexed than anything else. "I wish I knew for certain, sir, but all I can guess is that something went wrong with the system upgrades."

Nathan's brow furrowed. "Upgrades?"

"Uh, yes, sir," replied Hatfield, handing the Tactical Chief a datapad. "During our stay here at Six-One-Six, the Miranda's tactical systems were given what was supposed to be a minor software upgrade that had been made standard for all Starfleet vessels of her type. I can't say for sure, but it could just be a hiccup in the system as the new upgrade takes hold."

Nathan placed the datapad back in Hatfield's hands after studying the information on it. "Yer a qualified computer systems technician, right, Ensign?"

Hatfield blinked in surprise, and then nodded. "That's right, sir. When I enlisted, my original goal was to become an engineer or work in Operations, but my aptitude tests marked me for Tactical Analysis instead." The ensign sounded more than a little proud of that.

"Well, then, why don't you go ahead and check the software to make sure those yahoos who installed it didn't screw somethin' up?" Nathan suggested. "Ah don't want us goin' out into space with blind spots in our targetin' computer."

"Aye, sir! Right away!" Hatfield replied, clearly happy to be given a task with which he was familiar. He'd taken but a couple of steps before pausing. "Uh, Lieutenant..."

"What now, Hatfield?" Nathan turned to face his subordinate, then paused himself. "Oh. Cap'n Elaithin." He came to attention, then, standing at his full height. "Welcome to the CIC, sir."

"Carry on, Lieutenant," Elaithin responded automatically. "And thank you," the Bajoran acknowledged as he looked around. Then he gave a nod towards the retreating crewman. "You handled that well."

Nathan followed Jii's nod, then smiled modestly. "Oh, you saw that, huh? Wasn't much to handle, just a little software hiccup."

"Knowledge of your subordinate’s abilities says a lot about an officer," the Captain observed. He’d always used it as a barometer for his junior officers, and suspected the skill would set him in good stead here.

"Oh, uh, well, yeah, y'know, Ah figured if Ah'm gonna be leadin' these people, Ah oughta know everything they're capable of," Nathan replied. "Ah mean, this is mah first time runnin' a whole department, but it made sense to me..."

"Well, I’m not trying to embarrass you, Lieutenant," Jii chuckled, and then looked at Everett a bit oddly for a moment before shaking his head slightly. The resemblance really was uncanny.

Nathan tilted his head to the side a bit, his eyes narrowing in confusion. "Uh, Cap'n?" he ventured. "What is it?"

"Oh, nothing," the Captain answered. "You just remind me of someone I met... a very long time ago, Mr. Everett." He purposefully changed the subject after that. It could be... disorienting to tell a young officer that you'd met his ancestor some five hundred years in the past. "This is an... impressive setup you've got here. There are advantages to a ship designed to carry an Admiral's flag, I suppose."

The younger man arched an eyebrow at Jii, but shrugged inwardly as the Bajoran moved on to another topic. "Oh, definitely, sir. Ah mean, don't get me wrong, the Kumari was no slouch, but she doesn't hold a candle to the Miranda." Nathan took a quick look around the CIC and smiled a bit. "Ah was actually a little surprised by this place when Ah first saw it. Ah was expectin' somethin' special, but Ah didn't quite think it'd be...lahk this. It's definitely a leap forward." He grinned then. "A lesser man would be intimidated."


The Captain found himself grinning back. "You don’t consider yourself a lesser man, then?"

"No, sir," Everett said quickly, almost as if he were offended by the suggestion. "If Ah were, Ah wouldn't be standin' here right now."


“That’s a very good way to look at it, Lieutenant. Now… perhaps you could show me around?”

"Sure, might as well give you the grand tour while Ah get acclimated, mahself. Ah only just arrived last night," Nathan explained as he led Jii away from the situation monitor. He began to walk around the CIC, examining his new team as they went about their business.

"Ah apologize fer not comin' to see you right away, Cap'n, but Ah thought it'd be best if Ah saw to mah department, first."

“Don’t worry about it, Lieutenant,” Elaithin dismissed with a shake of his head. “Now, this, I take it, is the Master Situation Monitor?”

“Yes, sir. It’s the latest generation – “

"Observations"Edit

Dr. Robert West
Lt. JG Aurelia Jaxom

USS Miranda
Sickbay

Hospitals didn't bother Aurelia. Having spent at great deal of her education working in counseling offices and psych wards - not to mention an annoying tendency to twist, sprain, or otherwise damage herself - she had always felt a familiarity with them, never fear.

Until today.

Aurelia eyed the hypospray in the doctor's hand with a growing sense of alarm. He was talking a mile a minute and his hand, with hypospray, was waving about just as fast. She half thought she was going to wind up with the thing embedded into her throat.

"Dr. West," She said calmly. "I realize you're very busy but could you slow down a bit? I can't understand you."

Robert, who had been very steadily working and talking at his own pace, was once again thrown from it. It was becoming a trend on the ship, and he hoped it wouldn't last. Why couldn't people just let him work at his pace? What was *wrong* with all these weirdos anyway?

"Take a breath," Aurelia suggested.

The doctor resigned himself to yet another slow patient interaction and brought his speech and movements back down to a more manageable level.

"My apologies, Lieutenant, ItIsTakingMeSomeTime to adjust to BeingOnBoardAStarship. I've never had to DealWithManyPeopleBefore. Ikeep having to RemindMyselfToSlowDown for their benefit." he said, as friendly as he could manage (tone was another thing he was trying to work on).

"I can relate," She replied once she had interpreted his words. "I've been on New Vulcan for the past year and coming back was a bit of a shock the first week or so."

The doctor only nodded as he continued his work. He was focused, now, and outside distractions would have a hard time penetrating his mind. While he scanned, he occasionally muttered under his breath as he made deductions about the counselor from his observations.

"...SeveralPreviousFracturesAnd abrasions, patient AppearsToBeExcessively clumsy..."

"I wouldn't say excessively clumsy," Aurelia said with a slight frown. "More like bad luck that expresses itself physically."

"...evidence of multiple broken bones...."

"Well, I ..."

"...several BlowsToTheHead as well..."

"Okay, now you're just being rude," She said, using what Ada referred to as 'strong authoritative voice.' Aurelia rarely only used it - mostly during counseling fidgety ten year old boys and as a first step towards arguing with her ex-husband.

Robert stopped his scanning and looked at the young woman. "...I'm sorry....what?" he asked, completely oblivious to his previous ramblings.

"I realize that you have a job to do," Aurelia continued, in a more patient tone now, "And that you're obviously very committed to doing it well but could you please not talk about me as if weren't here?"

The doctor fixed a curious expression on his face.

"But...you *are* here. I'm AfraidIDon'tUnderstandThe request, Lieutenant." he said, with what sounded like a bit of confusion. What was wrong with her? How was it possible to talk to someone and pretend they weren't there at the same time?

"But you aren't talking to me, Doctor. You're treating me like a specimen and making observations to your computer."

Lordy but this woman was strange.

"I...um...I fail to see the difference." he offered, "You don't WantToKnowAbout the causes of your medical issues?"

Boy, this man was frustrating, she thought. "I know the cause of my medical issues. Gravity is not my friend."

"Have you ConsideredTheOneCause of your gravitational problems is that YouAreStressedBeyondANormal level?" Robert asked, as he continued to make his scans.

She made a face. "Why would you say that?"

"It's quite obvious. I assume TheRootCauseOfTheHigherStressLevels is the fact that you have already made contact with your ex-spouse OnBoardTheShip and that you didn't KnowHeWasPostedHereBefore hand." he answered, rather matter-of-factly.

Her hands flew to her hips which looked ridiculous given that she was sitting. She put them back down. "And just how did you come to that conclusion?"

"I am FamiliarWithEveryDetail of crew manifest. I do not ForgetAnythingIRead." he shrugged.

"That explains a lot," Aurelia muttered. "No, Doctor, I think I'm just unlucky. My stress levels are fine. And I should know, after all, being a counselor."

A defensive counselor, She mentally chided herself. They said that counselors made the worst patients but honestly!

Robert shrugged yet again before responding and continuing his scans, "As you wish. But ShouldYouDecideToForgoSelf diagnosis, I believe youCouldHelpYourStressSituation fairly easily. Simply find someone on board to have sex with."

To her credit, Aurelia didn't goggle over this - possibly because she spent a few seconds trying to decode the doctor's words. "Oh?"

Robert didn't skip a beat, "Sexual activity is highly useful for StressReliefAndItHasThe added benefit of InvolvingSomeoneOtherThanYourFormer spouse. Two birds with one stone as they say."

Her eyes narrowed. "Sex does help relieve stress but I wouldn't sleep with someone to get back at my ex. I'm not that vindictive."

The shrug made a reappearance, "If that isn't AgreeableForYouItIsn't necessary to have a partner. We have several options HereInSickBayFor self stimulation, but a partner would be best."

"Looking for another job?" She joked.

"As your physician, ThatWouldNormallyBeImproperOf me. Besides, I have FarTooManyPhysicalsToGive this week." Robert paused, perhaps she was extending him the offer sincerely? He should appear more grateful, or at least give it a try, "But..." he locked eyes with her, to convey thanks, "I certainly...appreciate the offer to allow me ToHelpYouRestore your stress levels to normal, Lieutenant."

Aurelia stared at him and then decided that Robert West was either brilliant or needed a few thousand hours in therapy. "You're ... welcome?"

Robert had already moved on in his head, and conveyed that fact in his next statement.

"Everything else appears ToBeInOrderHere you are otherwise in perfectly good health, Lieutenant." he said, putting away his tricorder.

"That's good," She said, relieved that this visit was almost over. "Until next year then?"

"Given Starfleet's TrackRecordWithShipBornViruses and infections, in addition to a trend I have AlreadyNoticedAmongCertain members of the Miranda's crew to completely IgnoreTheAdviceAndEvenDirectOrdersOf the medical staff, I find that estimate to be severely shortsighted." he answered, in the same matter-of-fact tone.

You're probably right but I think I've gained a new motivation for staying out of Sickbay, Aurelia wanted to reply. "I'll try my best to stay healthy."

Robert gave a distracted nod, "I'll see you later this week."

She got the impression he wasn't referring to her clumsiness. "Why?"

The doctor looked up at her, with an expression that seemed to convey a 'isn't it obvious' tone, "For a counseling session of course. It's ObviousThatTheCaptainWill want me to have them BasedOnMyRecordsFrom Starfleet Medical, and no doubt YourOwnObservationsHaveConvinced you that I require counseling. You are wrong, but ThereIsLittleICanDo about it."

Aurelia's mouth dropped open. "Perhaps my observations were a bit hasty. I'm sure there's no need ..."

"If I am going to SubjectMyselfToCounselingSessions, Lieutenant, then I will be ChoosingWithWhomIHaveThem. I choose you. You're welcome." he responded, looking back to his work as if that settled the matter.

"I couldn't possibly counsel my own doctor," She said quickly. "It's not appropriate."

Robert studied her for a moment, his eyes narrowing. This was the expression he always used when his mind was working quickly."Very well. Your physician ForTheRemainderOfThis voyage will be my assistant, Dr. Wolfson." he replied.

"I ... um ..." Aurelia desperately tried to think of something but was at a complete loss. "I .... when would you like to set up an appointment?"

"As the ChiefMedicalOfficerMySchedule can be tailored to fit within your needs, Lieutenant. Simply dictate a time to me." Robert said, his head slightly tilted, awaiting a response.

Aurelia felt like hanging her head. "How about next Tuesday at 1300?"

"Fine, fine." he replied, "Everything is GoodHereYou'reFinished."

The doctor gave her one last awkward nod and walked off to another appointment. Aurelia watched him go, wondering how she was going to keep up with the man during counseling sessions.

She had a feeling a lot of headaches would be involved.

"Surprise Inspection"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii, Commanding Officer
Lieutenant Adan Kador, Chief of Security
Lieutenant Ophelia Zamora, Deputy Chief of Security
Lieutenant Amadea Sinistari, Security Officer
Ensign Steven Russell, Security Officer
Chief Petty Officer Joseph Greene, Master-at-Arms


U.S.S. Miranda

(Security Center)

Cell 4 in the brig had a short.

They only had spare components for about eight rifles... on a ship with 1,600 plus crew and at least 300 such weapons systems, that wasn't exactly a whole lot of spares. They could use more power cells for Type II's, and one of the ship-wide weapons lockers' locks had been broken, but everything was more or less okay given the totality of the circumstances. They would soon be underway, but the problems should be easily fixable by then.

With the majority of security personnel having already reported in, and with security guards on duty for departure the Security Center was pretty vacant. Everyone left was busy at work with final preparations before departure. Verifying who was aboard, who wasn't, who was visiting and who was transferring to and fro, scanning luggage and checking for contraband... drills and training sessions, everyone had something to do, and the newly promoted Lieutenant Adan Kador most of all.

And absolutely no one was expecting the Captain himself to come strolling in through the wide double doors.

"Ophelia, I'm heading to the bridge to check in on Petty Officer Johnson, would you mind taking over down he..." Adan came to a stop when he heard the doors open, and his eyes took in the impressive sight of the Big M’s new Commanding officer. In the tradition of junior officers across the Fleet, the thought of 'Oh hell!' was, of course, instantaneous. Clearing his throat and suppressing the surprise, Adan came to attention. "Captain on deck!"

Ensign Steven Russel had just entered not a moment before, after a briefing with the members of his team. He very nearly hurt himself doing his about-face and brought himself to attention. 'Why is the Captain down here?' he wondered, like many of his colleagues. (Russ, maybe a little more here?)

Lieutenant Amadea Sinistari, for her part, had been on the comm with the Quartermasters up in Ops on the station, trying to finagle what more they could - whatever they could - get out of them. She too had her concerns about the department’s current supply levels, since in the back of her mind, she was envisioning running out of spare parts mid-deploymentt not having a clue about what to do at that point other than run around with their genitals in hand. She was about to give in to her annoyance and give a good dual-throated yell at the uncooperative moron on the other end when those electric words on rival with 'oh shit' were called out.


On the plus side, it let her hang up on the station’s Security QM. After doing so, Amadea stood at crisp attention – quickly enough that her back made a couple pops as she straightened proper.

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Greene – Joe to his friends, and ‘Chief’ to everyone else - looked up at the announcement and snapped to attention. The preliminary brig duty assignments he was looking over were set aside as he cast the appraising eye of a senior enlisted man over his new CO.

Humming mildly to herself, Lieutenant Ophelia Zamora smiled as she viewed the Captain. Fighting off all her natural protocol to run over and give him a warm greeting, she straightened her posture as her overly blue eyes twinkled with inner mischievous thoughts.

"As you were," Captain Elaithin called out, his eyes scanning the room. He gave Lieutenant Zamora a quick nod as he saw her – it was nice to see a familiar face. Finally, his eyes found the only Stagnorian officer in the room – his Security Chief, he assumed, and he nodded again. "Lieutenant Kador, I presume?"

"Yes sir." Adan smiled. It was a little flattering to be picked out by the Captain, who obviously had much more to worry about than a single department. "Welcome to Security. May I introduce Lieutenants Zamora and Sinistari, Ensign Russell, and Chief Greene, our senior enlisted man and the Master at Arms."

Amadea silently took observation on the Captain, sizing him up with a seasoned eye. From his movement, she could tell there was as her people called it 'steel under skin' – hardly the look of a ‘keyboard officer’. That only came from being in hard combat, and already earned him a few notches of respect from her. All that remained was to see how he was in the head when it came down to it, and that – well, that would be determined all be in good time.

The captain shook the hands of each as Adan introduced his three senior officers and the senior Chief in the department. "Glad to meet you all, and Lieutenant Zamora, it’s good to see you again," he said, running a hand almost nostalgically over a console that showed the security status across the ship - all green at the moment. "Perhaps you'd like to show me around, Mr. Kador?" The words were phrased as a question, of course, but Adan knew the orders for an unofficial inspection when he heard them.

He could see the way the Captain comfortably handled the console before him, and it lead Adan to wonder if the man wasn't an old hand at starship security. He was embarrassed to admit – even if only to himself - with all that had been going on, he hadn't really had the time to brush himself up on the Captain's background. "Of course sir. Well, before you is the security center, our main operations facility. I'm sure you're aware of the bridge station, so we'll start off with the armory."

Elaithin was surprised, really, at how nostaligic being in a Starship’s security hub made him. It had been different back on 47 – the Security office there had been more like the Sheriff’s office of a small town. This, though … this was all very, very familiar. “Lead the way.”

It wasn't that far of a walk, and after the requisite access precautions, the small party had moved to gigantic safe-locker that was Miranda's armory. "Our main armory sir. All weapons are in working order now. We're suitably equipped to handle the full spectrum of mission specifications, including counter-boarding operations, internal security, VIP protection, hostage rescue, general law enforcement... the works."

Adan was surprised when Elaithin cocked his head to the side. “Is that the new Type-16 phaser rifles?”


"Uhhh... yes sir."

The Bajoran raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t think these had made it into fleet distribution yet. Good work, Lieutenant.”


Adan slyly smiled. "I have a few friends from my days in the Corps, sir. They were looking for select Marine and Security units for field trials, and given the amount of experience with different weapons our department has, it was a fairly easy argument to make."

"Captain," Steven spoken up, "coming from an old ground pounder, both during the Dominion War and more than a few scratches with the Klingons, what is your experience with Security?"

Elaithin gave a small, rueful smile. “Cut my teeth in the Dominion War, Mr. Russell, and did a fair stint as Chief of Security on the Galaxy,” he answered. An old pain ghosted through his eyes for a moment, but Jii quickly put it back down into its place. He wasn’t interested in sharing the reasons for the change in his career path with anyone. “Still feel a little strange in a gold shirt instead of a red one, actually.”

Steven nodded. He knew that feeling – and the accompanying look - all too well. He’d seen it on many friends, and even felt it himself sometimes.

Amadea was inwardly pleased she again had guessed rightly. "Captain, you would always be welcome at our uptraining to keep our skills sharp so you don't feel like you're getting rusty.” she said with a tone of respect.

Adan could see his officers had a little bit of 'hero worship' syndrome, or whatever it was called. "Sorry sir." He whispered into the Bajoran's ear. "We just weren't expecting you."

Elaithin just gave him a grin in return. “It’s all right, Lieutenant. Surprise is one of the best tools of an effective Security Officer. And Lieutenant Sinistari, I think I’ll take you up on that… I’d like to try one of these Type 16s out.”

“We were about to have some firing drills, actually, Captain,” Adan suggested, and motioned towards the door that led to the firing range as Lieutenant Zamora handed the Captain a rifle. “If you’d like?”

The Captain’s grin didn’t fade at all. “Lead the way, son.”

++++++++++

The firing range was a well designed facility meant to provide the highest quality of training possible while still meeting the power requirements of a mobile starship that couldn't always spare the extra several thousand or more volts necessary for a hologram. There was a mixture of lanes, including your typical stand-still targets, mobile targets, and less conventional test options which included shooting while on the move, engaging 'smart' targets on interactive platforms, or even allowing the range itself to be transformed through the use of light duranium framing and sheeting into a variety of other environments, for CQB, hostage rescue, or what have you. Today's test of choice... pinging mobile targets moving at vehicular speed, a common enough requirement on the modern battlefield.

"Target speed will average about 50 KPH to start with sir, and rise to over 200, distances ranging from 200 meters to 1 kilometer. Ready for action?"

When the skipper gave the affirmative response, Adan checked his rifle, and looked over at the rest of his senior staff to make sure everyone was at a station. When he was sure they were all ready, he nodded back to the range master, and the test started.

Steven looked at his rifle. He wasn't really in the mood for 'practice' but he supposed it would be a good idea to show the Captain what he would do. He took aim and fired a few shots, hitting his target. Steven grinned. "Still have it."

Amedea was fairly cheerfully whistling to herself as she pulled out a bandanna from her pocket and tied her hair up. Fingers deftly having rifle ready, she waited until the go sign and fired away, showing a preference for headshots.

Adan watched his team's success with a sense of pride. At the very least it looked like his people knew what they were doing, always a good sign. A particularly important one when dealing with a new team. He put two stun shots, center mass, on the target. There was no need for the fancy shooting just yet. "How do you like them so far, sir?"

Joe had been checking out the new phaser rifles and was snapping off double taps where he could, it was again something he had been trained as he went up through the ranks, his first section chief in Security used to say "With Klingons Kill em twice. Those bastards don't die."

“Very nice, Lieutenant,” the Captain replied, lowering the rifle. Then he looked at the senior officers of the Security Department. “Very nice, indeed.”

"In Which She Gives a Progress Report"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii

Commander Cheyenne Summers Chief Flight Control/2nd Officer


"...so that's what's taking so long on the deflector upgrades. We were sent the components for a different class of ship. It was close enough that none of the yard dogs noticed it, so they have to take them out and reinstall the correct ones," Cheyenne said, taking a sip of water. She looked across the desk at the Bajoran sitting in front of her. The desk was littered with detritus of a busy morning. Glasses and mugs were collected on one side of the desk, waiting for a steward who wasn't due to arrive for another day. A plate with a half eaten sandwich on it sat on the other side, along with several pencil files. Cheyenne knew that she wasn't the first meeting that was scheduled with the captain that day, nor would she be the last. The most that she could was try to pass along the information as quickly and succinctly as possible, and get out of the way.

Elaithin frowned as he considered the issue. If he was remembering the specifications correctly…. "Can we make the deflector parts we have work? What type did they send us?"

"The ones for those new Pathfinder-class ships," she answered.

He appeared to be frowning, but it was one borne of concentration, not consternation. Elaithin gave a small, satisfied nod as he worked through in his head and then spoke once more. "That should be workable. If we can rig them up, then we can keep the correct ones for spares. "

She nodded. "I'll get Lieutenant Jaxom on it right away. Now as for the slipstream drive, we are running behind on the installation. We're having problems interfacing with the drive control systems, so the upshot is that we can either have warp drive, or slipstream drive, but not both. Yet. The starbase engineers are on top of it, as well as our own department. My last communication from the starbase was that we should have a 'quasi-working theory' within the next two days. In other words, they have no clue, they'll get me an answer as soon as they have one, and quit bugging them about it." Cheyenne smiled as she looked down at the message from the chief on the starbase. He was clearly an irascible sort of guy, and his communications had begun to be pretty querulous as Cheyenne pushed him for time estimates to pass along.

Elaithin checked something on his screen, and then raised his eyebrows. "Lieutenant Jaxom hasn't been cleared for the data on the slipstream drive yet?"

Cheyenne looked down at her padd and pulled up the list of those who had been cleared for the information on the new drive. Starbase engineers, Captain, Commander Joral, herself... That was it. "Um, apparently not, sir. I guess he slipped off the list because he's a transfer." Cheyenne made some notes on her padd.

"No worries," he shook his head, and fought back a smile as he caught himself using Captain Price’s favorite phrase. His old Captain back on the Galaxy had practically made that a catchphrase aboard the ship, and Jii was always a little surprised to find himself still using it years later. "I'm sure it's just an oversight somewhere. I'll authorize the release of data to him and brief him myself. I'm sure that project will go faster if our own Chief Engineer has a larger role in it."

"Sounds like a plan, then," Cheyenne said with a nod, crossing it off her list. "I think that about brings you up to date on the refit. Those are the only problems we're really running into. Everything else has been as smooth as a refit could when it's this drastic. The crew transfers on and off are also going pretty smoothly. That is, the ones prior to your arrival," she added. "The complete list is on one of those files I gave you, as well as the few instances that need your... special attention."

That caught his attention, and Elaithin found himself pulling up the specified list. “Ah, yes, Doctor West. I’ve already met the man. He’s… interesting.”

"Yeah, from I've heard, that would be an apt description. I haven't been lucky enough to meet him yet. Some of the meetings I wish had been recorded, though. Did you hear about our esteemed intelligence officer's first meeting with him?"

"Ah, yes," the Captain nodded. "The grapevine already has that little tale, I'm afraid. Personally, I didn't think it was necessary to neck-pinch then man, but then..."

Cheyenne snorted. "Well, I would have to reserve judgment until I meet him. Ah... I mean..."

He raised his eyebrows again. "It's S.O.P. on this ship, then?" Jii asked, laughter dancing in his eyes as he struggled to keep the rest of his face neutral. "You can relax you know, 'Commander."

Cheyenne pinked up a little at that "Well, only if they deserve it, I guess." She placed the padd on her knee and leaned backwards a little bit, stretching her back. She wanted to do a full out stretch, unkink the muscles that had tightened up with the hours spent at her desk already. The captain may have said relax, but somehow she didn't think he meant to relax *quite* that much.

She could only blame the floor for what happened next. The floor and the new chair that had been brought with the rest of the new furniture for the new captain. When she leaned back, even just the little bit that she did, the chair tried to assist in the movement. Her weight was unbalanced and when she reached out her foot to catch herself on the underside of the desk, she discovered she was further away from the desk than she thought she was.

It all ended with her flat on her back with the casters on the bottom of the chair spinning slowly in the air as she fought to get her breath back. "Ow."

The Captain moved quickly as he could. "Commander Summers? Cheyenne, are you all right?"

"No. No, I'm really not. Man, how embarrassing. I know you said relax, but geez!"

Jii leaned over her and extended a hand, then let loose the laugh that had been building since the moment she had begun tipping over.

Cheyenne glared up at him for a moment, then took his hand to help pull herself up. When she stood, she dusted off her pants while Jii stood there, laughing almost helplessly.

"I'm sorry," he said after a moment. "But then look on your face - it was like one of those holos my kid used to watch."

"Let me guess. The Three Stooges?" Cheyenne grumbled, picking up her chair to right it. She set herself down gingerly, making sure that she was settled evenly into it.

"Something like that," he nodded, and then looked appraisingly at her for a moment. "You have one yourself, don't you? A kid?"

"I might've guessed, my kids love that kind of stuff. When I tell them about this, they probably won't stop laughing for a week." Cheyenne smiled, her equanimity regained. "Yeah, I have two, actually. Lila is 8 and Robert is 5. How about yours?"

"Toryl's seventeen - just entered the Academy. It's why I put back in for Starship duty."

"Well, congratulations on that! I don't know what I would do if Lila or Robert wanted to join Starfleet." Cheyenne said, grabbing her water glass off the edge of Jii's desk. Luckily, she hadn't been holding it when she fallen, otherwise it would have made the whole situation so much worse. She turned the glass around slowly, absentmindedly wiping the condensation off the outside of the glass.

"Well," he chuckled, "They don't really let us make those choices for them."

"No, I suppose not. So... 'Commander.. uh - do you mind if I call you Cheyenne?"

"Please do."

"Cheyenne then. When it's like this, feel free to call me Jii. I, uh.. have a question for you."

"All right," she said slowly. Jii's whole demeanor had changed, become slightly... hesitant. It intrigued her.

"Uh.. 'Commander Lankin..." he started. "Is she always so..."

"Direct? Yeah, pretty much."

"Right, right," Jii muttered, and then worked up the courage for his next question. "So.... is she, uh, single?"

"Lost In The Shuffle"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Lieutenant Jamus Jaxom

Main Engineering

The addition of some new equipment necessitated the rerouting of some warp core coolant piping. This was something Jamus could sink his teeth into since MacRae was already on top of the new sensor palette installation. The newly minted chief engineer thought it would be best to keep people familiar with the job on it.

Meanwhile, he started working on things that would assist him getting to know the layout of the Miranda.

He'd just donned his welding mask and fired up the laser to complete a seam in two piping sections when he heard the doors swish open. Thinking it was one of his staff he didn't look over his shoulder to see who it was. "Thanks for grabbing those welding rods Jenkins, just set them on the bench there for now."

"I'm afraid I don't have any welding rods, Lieutenant," came an unfamiliar voice.

Jamus paused right before striking the arc. His head turned slowly and when he caught a glimpse of the pips on the Bajoran's collar he shot up to attention with his welding mask clattering to the ground. He offered a sharp salute. "Captain!"

"Relax," the Bajoran smiled. "I'm Captain Elaithin."

"You're THE captain then," Jamus replied smiling. He stuck his handout to shake, "Good to meet you sir."

“Only one on the ship – or so I’m told. It’s good to meet you, Mr. Jaxom. I expect you've quite a few questions - such as why the ship's Chief Engineer hasn't been allowed to supervise the refit work going on in the nacelles, or in the adjunct to Main Engineering on this deck?"

That was very true, of course, and had been a constant source of consternation in the several days since Jamus had reported aboard to Commander Summers. There was obviously some sort of engine refurbishment going on, but for whatever reason, he hadn't yet been cleared for that data. As a result, the armed security officers in the work area had repeatedly turned him away.

"Aye, you could say that Captin," Jamus replied falling into his former Irish supervisor's accent by accident. It happened often when the Trill became excited or frustrated. He never noticed it, neither $did old O'Hanney back on the Columbia though it had been an endless source of amusement for the rest the Columbia's engineering crew.

Elaithin gave him a placating nod. "It's allright. Release of that information is at my discretion, and I can't very well expect to have a working slipstream drive if my Chief Engineer's not involved, can I?"

"No sir," Jamus' eyebrows rose curiously after his brain processed what'd just heard. "Slipstream you say? We're getting the experimental one or the production model? I've heard the rumors for months but nothing concrete. I had no idea it was going to be on 'this' ship. Do you have any idea where we'll be able to go with that?"

“Production model,” the Captain confirmed. “The Aventine’s been testing it out since the Borg were wiped out two years ago. I’m told it’s “perfectly reliable technology.”

Jamus looked at his new captain suspiciously. "Is that so, is it?" He crossed his arms over his chest. It was no secret that sometimes things from Starfleet Research and Development didn't quite go as planned.


“Exactly, Lieutenant. I want you to know every detail of those specs, inside and out. And then I want you to tear them apart with your team and tell me everything that’s wrong with it. I don’t want to end up stranded across the galaxy and take twelve years to get home, like Voyager did.”

"AH!" Jamus clapped his hands together loudly, "Now we can 'finally' get to some work!" He started rubbing his hands together like a mad scientist with a chubby over a an experiment that was a grand success, "When do I get a look at her then?"

“Whenever you’re ready, Lieutenant,” the Captain answered. “Your clearance is in effect for you and your whole staff, and if anyone gives you any problems, you just send them my way.”

"Damn right I will," Jamus then remembered his manners, "Damn right I will, Sir."

"Still breathing in there"Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security
Dr. Robert West

Checking the chronometer, Amedea figured to head over to get her physical done with. As she'd told Adan, she had no aversion like many did for going to sickbay for anything. However, she did have the strong sense of they were extremely busy and why the hell bother them with something mundane. Over the years she'd been thumped around, battered and bloody among other things and pulled through fine, usually just sprawled out somewhere with a bottle of something a few shades away from paint thinner to dial back pain.

She arrived a good ten minutes early for her appointment and discreetly looked around for the medico.

Dr. West was still rubbing a bruise on his head, a souvenir from 'Commander Lankin's visit from earlier. The incident had been reported and logged, of course, and the 'Commander given a warning.

From his office, Robert heard the sickbay doors open. Although he couldn't see who had walked in, he didn't need to.

"Lieutenant Sinistrari, PleaseComeBackToMy office." he called out, only half paying attention.

If his unique speech pattern was unusual to Amedea, it didn't reflect as she simply headed for his office and came in. After all, when it came to personality quirks, her people had it not only in spades, but diamonds, clubs and hearts. She stood quietly before his desk, noticing the rather impressive bruise he sported.

Robert had still failed to look up at her, so focused was he on his bruise.

"You'll have to ForgiveMeLieutenantThereWas an...an....incident earlier." he managed, after a few moments. The words sounded faintly painful.

There were incidents, and then there were Incidents. "I can take a report if you want.", she offered.

"It was NothingThatWasn'tHandledPleaseDon't concern yourself with it." he replied, motioning towards a medical bed, "Let's get down ToItThenShallWe? Take a seat on the bed."

His choice was his choice as far as she was concerned and Amedea promptly took a seat on the bed.

Robert was extremely efficient with his work. Although his arms seemed to be flailing about in random directions, he had the procedure down cold. The frantic movements tended to make people uncomfortable, but he never saw any reason to sacrifice efficiency for comfort. As he performed various scans, nodding and sometimes making affirmative grunting noises, he suddenly paused and looked at the junior security officer.

"Lieutenant..." he began, "Everything SeemsToCheckOutOtherThan one problem. It seems you Haven'tEatenInOver 72 hours."

Amedea just watched him as he went about his tasks. Seeming twitchy came with being a medico from her experience or at least it did with her people since they usually ended up overworked.

"I eat when I'm feeling honest hungry.", she stated, "Usually about every two or three days. I just can't force myself to eat when I'm not feeling it."

Robert seemed to consider this for a moment before shrugging.

"I suppose that AsLongAsYour nutrition levels remain at FunctionalLevelsThenThereWon'tBe a problem. Just make sure YouDon'tStarveYourself please, I have EnoughProblemsToWorryAbout as it is...like CommandersWithIrrationalFears about hyposprays and complete LackOfRespectForMedical authority as it pertains to crew health." he said, finishing up his scans.

"I'm still taking my nutrient hypospray as ordered, still sitting on a two month supply and will give notice when I'm down to a week.", Amedea said, "And if you feel you need to file reports about..disrespect..I am fast on filing."

The doctor seemed to consider this for a moment before shaking his head, "No, no, that's ok. It's AlreadyBeenTakenCareOfAlthough I will keep you in mind ShouldIHaveAnyFurtherProblems, which I am unfortunately anticipating. All done."

Robert put aside his tricorder and made a note on his PADD.

Amedea nodded and hopped off the bed. She wasn't going to take up more of his valuable time since in her experience, medicos in general were greatly overworked to where it was pretty much considered a miracle that they didn't just drop over from exhaustion. "I know you'll notify me if something comes up, and I hope your day improves.", she said respectfully.

The doctor didn't reply right away. He seemed very wrapped up in his PADD and it took a full minute before he offered a response.

"I certainly HopeSoLieutenantAsForYou everything is fine, you check out."

Amedea nodded and stepped out. She still had patrol duty as well as finally feeling it enough to tear into something substantial for dinner.

Robert noticed her leave, but continued functioning inside his own personal universe.

"Well," he said to himself, "At least SHE seems normal."

"Taking Notes for Psyche Evals"Edit

LT. Kaori Lokai
Ship's Counselor

Lokai's Office
USS Miranda

Counselor Lokai sat back down in her office after talking to Aurelia Jaxom. She was looking at records of the Senior Staff. She came across with what she thought was her record but found it to be her mother's instead. Her mother had never mentioned that she was ever on the Miranda.

As she continued to read, she learned a few things about her mother. She knew that she shouldn't be reading it but she couldn't help it. There really wasn't anything that really stood out. Her mother seemed to be a well rounded lady and never had a reprimand or anything else. A clean record stared her in the face and she realized at this point that she wanted the same thing, to perform at her best and stay out of trouble.

Taking in what she needed, she exited out of that and moved onto other Senior Staff. She opened up her Commanding officer's record and read it. She noted that there was a closed file that wouldn't allow her access and she had no desire to even wanting to know what it was all about.

As she read on, a section brought tears to her eyes. Even though it had been 10 years since her father's death, it still hurt. She felt for him. She made a note in her record that he still has trouble talking about her death even though he claimed to have worked it out. She noted the accident that claimed his hand and she even noted his reprimands. This led to interesting reading. It was not for entertainment but fir preparation of psyche evaluations on the senior staff.

Next, was the XO, Commander Joral Anton, another Bajoran. The first thing that caught her eye was that the father treated him and his sister like dirt, eventually leaving them for another life. He was responsible for her.

Other things caught her eye like his grade upon entering the academy. It didn't get any better as he was somehow affected by a scandal involving many players including his sister. She read on as she marked down things that caught her eye and was worth dealing with once she started the psyche evaluations.

"There's Hungry...and then there's HONgry!"Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security
Crewman Dorian Knish, Mess Hall 3 cook

With the shift over for her, everything for the most part tended to, it was time to finally kick back a bit. Overall, Amedea was pretty pleased with how things had gone. Other than the green members of her department, for the most part it had a solid foundation. Who she'd met so far from the other departments and services, all seemed amicable enough. All that was left was avoiding counseling for as long as remotely possible since her people's first encounter with them had gone over like a lead balloon to put it politely.

There was a decent enough line at the serving tables, though not as bad as the ones for the first and second ones which were packed almost up to the door. She made a mental note to keep this one in mind.

Peeking down the line, the offerings for this service looked to be hasperat, viinerine, Denobulan sausage with some form of steamed greens, and a goodly amount of basic ham or turkey sandwiches. Dessert options were something with uttaberries, peach cobbler and the ever-a-staple bread pudding.

Crewman Knish greeted each as they came to the fore, working the table with his team mate with smooth precision until he noticed his fellow crew looking at a fellow Mortemondean as if she'd just asked for service from the Captain's Mess.

He hurried over to find out what was going on so the line continued to roll along smooth.

"She..she asked for two of everything.", the crewman said only to earn a chuckle and a smile from Dorian.

"I have it.", he said, knowing when one felt the 'hongries', there it was.

Amedea smiled warmly at him, the two chit chatted lightly in thier native polyglot. He had family over in the plains of Peregord, she had her home over on Lake Skynyrd. The latter made him raise an eyebrow mentally since only a rare sort ended up over there, the People of Note as the euphemism went. He also made a mental note to speak with Petty Officer Axeswinger, another Mortemondean as well as a chef for the Captain's Mess who was more or less appointing himself the 'head' of the Mortemondeans on ship so he knew to send her a message since they all did have to stick together.

At the end of the line, Amedea had a tray that was close to overflowing, food from the offerings with a couple little sneaked in treats from home. More than a few stared at her as she made her way to a table and promptly tore in more like a a ravenous bear than a humanoid.

There was some muttering about where did she put it all, but Amedea didn't care.

Much to the surprise of a few onlookers, she did clear off the entire tray. Finally full to bursting that would last for a while, it was time to just relax until time to crash out.

A quick stop to her quarters for changing out of uniform and into comfortable jeans and a pullover, and she was off with her sketchbook.

Choosing one of the lounges, and a bottle of beer, she was content to just sketch away whoever walked on by, or just eventually doze off in the chair.

Either worked really.

"A Place to Call Her Own"Edit

Ensign Hren t'Stron

She had done some horse trading to get this position, but it was now to be her home and it was as good of a place as any other. Her quarters had already been settled, and her home away from home was badly in need of personalization. Her grin grew wider, at the prospect of claiming the modest office and the associated storage rooms as hers.

Hren cast her gaze about the unassuming office and the name plate upon the desk, "Ensign t'Stron" followed by the happy letters of her position Quartermaster. She grinned, an unsettling view for most people unfamiliar with the ensign. Most people saw her Vulcan-like appearance, delicately pointed ears, angled features and assumed her to be a Vulcan. She had used it to her advantage since joining Star Fleet. But a distinguishing eye would pick out enough to suspect the truth of her Rihannsu origin. While reunification had brought the two races together again, change was slow and there could be no argument against the fact that the Rihannsu were a stubborn breed and culture that had been developed over thousands of years was not about to change quickly even with flawless logic to direct it.

The first touch was Captain Qayla's bat'leth was hung behind the desk with reverence. Hren smiled at the memory of her earliest lessons in procurement, "Always negotiate from a position of strength puq, failing that make them think you in the position of strength." her Klingon Captain had told her.

She settled behind the desk after the first task had been accomplished, and began the task of reviewing the status of open requests. There was a small but growing list of room transfer requests. The ex Quartermaster had apparently had a wicked sense of humor or some personal dislike with several crew members. A polite and plaintive request from Ensign Kthez, an Andorian, practically pleaded to be removed from his current room assignment, apparently his Denebian roommate was driving him to the edge of insanity. Hren felt for the young ensign. The thought of being constantly barraged by the sound of bodily functions every time the Denebian shifted in his rack would have a tendency to disturb sleep patterns of someone with the audio acuteness of an Andorian.

She, herself was still without a room mate. 'Thank the Elements for late transfers.' she thought. She smiled at the indulgence it had provided her. The temperature in her quarters was set to her comfort for once. It was a small delight to have a refuge of warmth on a vessel that in large was on the edge of uncomfortably cool for her tastes.

She quickly scanned through the crew manifest and cross checked with other open quarter transfer requests. She smiled, seeing Lt Wolfson's name on the manifest. She had appreciated a well run recreation deck, especially when the coordinator didn't ask too many questions about a travelling poker game. After several minutes she had found an acceptable pairing for both crew members.

With deft fingers she instructed a download of store requisitions and receivables to her PADD. The previous Quartermaster had let the ship's stores slide. She was sure that other departments would soon be sending a nag list reminding her of that fact as well, best to catch up with the Miranda was still stationary than having to haggle cargo delivery in unknown quadrants of space. She missed the thrill of the markets and bazaars of the Triangle. The smell and the crush of sentients, the barrage on her senses. The fire on her nerves to remain vigilant against thieves and the surge of victory after a fierce bargain. She sighed. Star Base 616 would just have to do. There were things to requisition and deals to be made.

"Who said anything about a date?"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
LtCmdr K Jordan Lankin

Officer’s Quarters, Deck Five

Being nervous wasn't really something Captain Elaithin Jii was used to feeling.

Excited, sure. Eager - definitely. Calm, in control, and possessing of a stiff resolve that had been commented on by friends and enemies both in the past -- all of those feelings were comfortable.

But now, as he stood outside a woman's door, none of those latter emotions seemed to be present. He smoothed down the front of one of the two civilian shirts that were in his wardrobe, and fought the urge to fiddle with the pockets of the old flight jacket he was wearing.

Maybe the flight jacket had been a bad choice? Too informal, maybe? But -

Enough, Jii, he finally admonished himself. All the things you've done in your life, you can certain manage to take a woman to dinner. So, he squared his shoulders, set his jaw, and rang the door chime of one Lieutenant Commander K. Jordan Lankin.

At almost the same moment as his finger touched the small pad, the doors slid open. The woman who emerged looked astonished to see him there and was barely able to catch herself on the door frame lest her momentum cause her to collide into him.

Jordan was impeccably dressed, managing to walk that find line between casual and formal in a simple black dress and a pair of basic black heeled shoes. It was impossible to tell whether it was her 'date night' outfit or simply her traditional off-duty clothing. Her hair was down in curls, falling over slender shoulders bared by the square cut of the dress. She wore only one earring, though it looked like the other was clasped between her fingers.

"Uhm. Hi," she said, tilting her head, her grey-blue eyes widening with the surprise of his presence. She smoothly pulled herself into a full standing position and affixed the other earring in its place. "I thought we were meeting at the restaurant."

"We were?" Jii asked, and then corrected himself. "Of course we were. I just thought I'd walk with you, since we're starting from the same place and all."

Smooth, Jii. Very smooth, he thought. You're an idiot.

"Sure, that makes sense," she replied, her forehead creasing, face twisting into a somewhat curious smile. "I guess I was working under the assumption that we'd be finishing things up last minute; you know -- that's the general trend with our jobs." She stepped out, the door whooshing closed behind her. She wore heels -- perhaps nearly five inches, though he still stood nearly half a foot taller. "Shall we then? I made reservations. This place will actually fill up. And captain's stripes won't get you anything."

"Well that's disappointing. I thought rank was supposed to have privileges."

"Not in the world of high stakes restauranting, apparently," she replied, grinning as they moved down the corridor toward the airlock. "So. What has your afternoon been like?"

"Well, I haven't assaulted a doctor, or anything like that," he grinned.

"Och," Jordan said, shaking her head. "He had it coming."

"The fact that Lieutenant Kaden hasn't asked me about arresting the ship's intelligence officer would suggest that the good doctor agrees with you," Elaithin observed. Or it simply hadn't occurred to the man.

"Or is flat out terrified," she replied, smirking, wagging a finger. "Get them when they're new, I always say." She glanced at him. "I'm kidding. Given the way he was going, I'm not entirely sure he noticed anything even happened." She chuckled. "Having established my day, back to yours then...

"The usual. I've been meeting most of the officers, and spent a good long time locked in a room with 'Commander Summers." Jii winced as he realized how that last part sounded. "Getting up, I mean, up to date. She briefed me." This wasn't sounding any better.

"Locked?" she questioned. " As in locked locked? Because you can't trust this operations department. The nerd herd... I swear. They come to fix one thing and break another in the process so you have to call them again. First rule in repair: ensure a repeat customer."

"Er, figure of speech," he answered.

She paused, almost visually replaying the conversation. "Ah. 'Locked.' I figured as much," she replied, brushing her dark auburn curls back away from her face. "I was just... taking the moment to rant."

"Should I be concerned about Ops efficiency, then?" Jii asked. His phrasing seemed serious at first, but there was a note of teasing to his voice as well. "I'm fairly sure the department is being almost completely rotated out."

"Oh, no," she replied, stepping out into the station with him. "They're fine. Prompt. I'm just... I got into a vicious argument with one of the terminals in the center today. Computers hate me. I know a lot of people say that, but with me it's actually very true. Apparently I'm a hex? Or so my chief analyst says."

Jii nodded to the PO who was standing guard at the airlock hatch as they passed through, he noticed Jordan did the same, offering the kid a smile as she passed. He found he rather liked the revelation that she wasn't the sort of officer to ignore the enlisted personnel serving with her. All too many officers would have passed right by that petty officer without even acknowledging his existence.

It went into the plus column, definitely. Plus, Jii had to fight back his grin at the appraising look the PO had definitely given Lankin as she had passed.

"Well, I'm not completely untalented with computer systems. I'd offer to come take a look, but..."

"It's okay, there're other terminals; it's more the principle of the thing," Jordan replied. "I'm told that my new tech ops guru guy is coming Thursday. So we'll see. But I appreciate the offer." She paused a moment, then grinned, shaking her head. "I can already see why he likes you."

He raised an eyebrow. "He? I have a secret admirer? I might just have to disappoint him."

"The Old Man," she said, adjusting the small purse hanging off her shoulder, directing him to the left. "He likes captains who aren't above rolling up their sleeves." She paused for a beat. "Though from what I hear, you do have quite a few secret admirers. Some not so secret. Of all genders, shapes and sizes. It's actually quite funny."

That brought the tall Bajoran to a stop. A Gallamite who'd been walking behind them nearly bumped straight into him, his brain turning an interesting shade of red before Jii apologized.

"I... what?"

"Oh come on," she replied, giving him a bemused and skeptical look over her shoulder. "Captain Cute Ass? You have to hear the talk. You have quite a few nicknames."

Jii's expression darkened for just a moment. "I ... uh, I don't really pay attention to that sort of thing. I haven't dated anyone in... well, it's been a while."

"If anything? That probably just makes them talk more," she replied. "Oh, stop looking at me like that and keep walking, we're going to be late." She waved him forward. "It's around the corner." Already, Jordan was a few steps ahead and paused at the front smiling at the Bajoran hostess, who grinned and greeted the intelligence officer by first name and in Bajoran before seating them immediately. Jordan grinned at him as she put the napkin in her lap. "I come here a lot," she explained, "every time we're in port."

"Apparently," he said quietly. Uncomfortably, Aire's pagh seemed to be hanging over the entire occasion. For him, at least - Lankin certainly hadn't seemed to have noticed anything off.

She was studying him, letting the silence he imposed hang between them. Her dramatic-looking eyes were practically staring into his soul. It was obvious where she got her reputation. She rested her left elbow on the table, propping her chin in the cradle of her hand. It flashed the thick black numerals etched in her skin on the inside of her slender wrist.

"So what brought you to the Miranda?" she asked. "I've looked at your records, listened to the Old Man's praises. But... why did you take it?"

"Are you kidding? An actual starship command? I put in for one just about the second my son was accepted to the Academy," Jii answered, shaking his wife's ghost out of his head. "It's what I've wanted my whole career. That it's a ship like the Miranda... well, that's just bonus."

"I know what you mean," she replied, nodding. "And she's a great ship. Always in the middle of everything. Attracts a lot of interesting people... how old's your son?"

His eyes lit up in the way of most parents when describing their children. "Toryl? He's seventeen now. Couldn't wait to get into the Academy. Never was sure if it's because he wanted, or if it was because it would get him away from that interfering old man of his."

"Eh. That's what fathers are for," she replied, grinning broadly. "What's he studying? Does he know yet?"

"No idea, really," he answered, settling back into his chair and picked up the glass the waiter had just delivered. He noticed the vintage on the bottle of spring wine, and the label - it was from his home district. He gave Lankin a raised eyebrow, acknowledging her subtle point. She only cocked a sly smile in return. "Security, or the Sciences, I expect. He's a very analytical sort, and would be good at either."

"He should look into intelligence," she said, after thanking the server for pouring the wine into her glass. "I could get someone to sit down and chat with him. We're not evil -- not anymore anyway."

"I'll pass along the recommendation, but I don't know that he'll go for it," Jii admitted, a bit reluctantly.

She nodded. "It's not everyone's cup of tea. But it can be interesting -- it's certainly interdisciplinary. You can get a little bit of everything." She sipped her wine. "Certainly never gets redundant."

"True," he conceded. "But he saw firsthand what it can get like. And being taken hostage by Ford Serpico isn't likely to have left him with a positive impression of the field."

Jii rather pointedly didn't clarify whether it wasn't a choice Toryl would want - or if it was simply something his father wouldn't approve of. He was a little surprised to realize that he didn't want to know the answer.

Jordan blanched at the name and her jaw tensed as she looked away; glancing over her shoulder, she made eye contact with the server who immediately came to take their order.

A few moments passed in an uncomfortable silence after that, and this time, it was Jii who finally broke it.

"So what made you choose Intelligence as a field, over normal fleet duty?

"Uhm..." Her forehead furrowed. "I'm not sure it was actually a choice, anymore? It... I was recruited when I was still a kid; it was never really a question that this was the direction I'd take. What, ah... influenced your choice?"

"Oh, right." Idiot. He'd know that - it was in the damn file, wasn't it? "Well, I grew up on the farm, so engineering came pretty naturally. It's what Dad did. And there was plenty of work for it, after the Occupation ended. I grew up with my head always in one kind of engine or some type of machinery or another. So when Aire said she was going to Starfleet... well, it just seemed like a natural choice."

"Aire... your wife?" she asked, voice delicate.

Jii cleared his throat, and took a fortifying sip of the spring wine before he answered. "Yes. We were married right after graduation. She was command-tracked all the way. It was all she ever wanted, really."

Jordan nodded. "Sorry. I didn't mean..."

"No," he smiled ruefully. "It's been twelve years. I expect I should be able to talk about her by now, after all... though this might not be the best time for it."

Yes, Jii, because talking about your dead wife is a great first date choice. Once again, the large Bajoran felt like the galaxy's biggest idiot.

She matched his expression. "Fair enough," she replied. "So..."

The meals materialized then, and the awkwardness slowly passed out of the conversation as the two got to know each other - and drank more and more of the spring wine, of course. Before either had realized it, several hours had passed, and the owner was giving them pointed looks.

"--so, that's when the Ferengi realized he was the only person in the room wearing clothes!" Jii exclaimed, finishing the story.

At this point, Jordan -- who had her share of the two bottles of wine they'd gone through -- was laughing so hard she could barely breathe, her cheeks flushing and eyes tearing. She clasped the napkin to her face, as she started to cough, barely able to pull herself together.

"Oh geez," she said, between giggles as she drew deep breaths, trying to compose herself. "That's -- it looks like we should get going." She leaned in conspiratorially and, in a stage whisper said, "We're getting evil looks. I can't believe we've closed this place down."

"We have?" Jii asked, and then laughed once again. "Well then," he said, standing from the table, and extending a hand towards her. "If you'll allow me to escort you then, 'Commander?"

"Stop calling me that," Jordan admonished, giggling, but took his proffered hand and let him pull her up from her seat. She wavered a little as she got her heels under her and shook her head. "I never drink this much wine. I'm going to have the worst headache in the morning."

"Stop calling you what?"

"'Commander," she mocked, lightly thwacking his arm. "No one calls me that."

"Well, it is your rank," he pointed out, and then noticed that she was leaning on him rather heavily. Come to think of it, he wasn't walking all that straight himself.

"Yeah, but... no one actually calls me that," she replied, wrapping both arms around his one as they half walked, half tripped down the mostly empty corridors of the station's promenade. "Rank doesn't... doesn't have as much a... impact in intelligence. We don't... don't really care. One... big... dysfunctional family. Formality makes things uncomfortable."

"Whatever you say, Lankin."

"Jordan," she stated, "just call me Jordan. Captain."

"Then you have to call me Jii, Jordan," he replied. He realized later that he'd meant to clarify that it was for when they were off-duty... but he never did.


She was about to respond. Her lips had brushed with a smile as her eyes tilted up at him, but within the space of a microsecond her expression shifted.

It was as though the alcohol had immediately disappeared from her system and the carefree joy was instantly replaced by something entirely different. The woman beside him became someone else -- she moved on reflex, her lithe body twisting with the grace and power of a classically trained dancer as she pirouetted on the ball of her left foot and pressed her right hand to his chest. Her leg swept underneath him, a surprisingly strong blow to the back of his knees that instantly brought him to the floor just as a disruptor blast singed the air where they'd been the fraction of a moment earlier. He'd recognize the sound anywhere -- it was Cardassian make.

As they dropped, a battered blaster appeared in Jordan's left hand -- presumably pulled from the purse she'd carried, though how it had come through security Jii surely didn't want to know; it was older, the type of weapon that smugglers and pirates used less for accuracy and appearance (it looked more like a pistol than a phaser) and more for the weapon's notoriously untraceable nature. But given the power of the single blast she launched toward the assailant, this particular model had been modified.

The veteran intelligence operative fired before her knee even hit the ground, before most people would have even had the chance to pinpoint the target. Her knee touched the deck, but it was barely a brush before she bounced back up. Her hand grabbed his forearm and she pulled him with her, though it was unnecessary -- his reactions lodged in as well, and they catapulted behind a large pillar for cover.

The whole thing took maybe two seconds.

Then real time flooded back, complete with sound, smell and vivid color. The station security alarm blared, undoubtedly a product of the weapons fire on the nearly deserted promenade.

Jordan crouched behind the pillar, her back pressed against it as she held the blaster with two hands, and she was breathing a little heavier from the suddenness of the whole ordeal. She looked at him, bangs hanging in her face, and she grinned.

"Which one of us do you think they were aiming for?"

Elaithin's own adrenaline was running high now, helping to counter the alcohol just as it had done with Jordan. He'd sobered quickly with the sudden violence, and subconsciously, had shifting his footing and his body weight into a combat stance. "Could be either," he replied grimly. "Either one of us would be a good target for the R.L.F."

"Romulan separatists," Jordan muttered, "using Cardassian weaponry no doubt supplied for discord. I only caught a glance. There were two on the primarily level here, and one of the secondary level." She pointed above them. "I didn't see the fourth."

"Fourth?"

"There's always a fourth."

"I know," he nodded. "I've had run-ins before, and-" and before Jii could even finish that sentence, the fourth made himself known. This one charged out from behind a nearby kiosk that had been closed up for the night shift, taking advantage of the seeming lull in his targets attention. Jordan whirled her blaster toward the attacker, but Elaithin had already caught the man's wrist and twisted it to force him to drop the curved, wicked-looking blade he was holding.

As the sound of metal clanging to the deck practically echoed in his ears, Jii followed the disarming with an open-palmed strike to the man's chin. The young Romulan's head snapped back, the click of his jaw audible as his eyes rolled up into his head. Suddenly boneless, their attacker fell to the deck alongside his weapon.

"Amateurs," Jii muttered, and then pressed his fingers to his nose as the surge of adrenaline washed out of his system. Unfortunately, he wasn't at all feeling pleasantly drunk anymore, and had now skipped directly to hangover. As he started searching the man, a pair of officers from Starbase Security - drawn by the weapons alert - arrived.

"Indeed," she said, standing, slipping the blaster back into its hiding place -- though, judging from the arriving 'reinforcements', it was somewhat questionable how long it would remain within her possession. She barely bit back her somewhat bemused expression as she side stepped toward him and looked down at the man sprawled prone on the floor. Man? He wasn't much more than a kid. She set her jaw, and then looked up at the security personnel who had raised their weapons toward them. She smacked her companion for his attention as she raised her hands slightly, palms facing the detail. "Good thing you're the Captain," she murmured from the corner of her mouth,” or this could be a mite uncomfortable for me."

The Bajoran let loose a snort. "No doubt," he muttered, and pulled out the identification card that contained his name, rank, and serial number. Starbase security tended - well, everyone in general tended - to be suspicious of people claiming to be intelligence officers, particular after three people had been shot and one disabled on the Starbase Promenade.


Explanations were made and statements were given- after the Starbase's Chief of Security and Admiral Maab had come down to the scene as well. Two of the Romulans Jordan had shot would live, though the third was already dead.


As they crossed the transfer tube back aboard Miranda, Jii was muttering. "They were all kids. It's ridiculous how the R.L.F. manages to get them that young."

"Kids are the most susceptible," Jordan said, softly, brushing hair back from her face. "Always have been, throughout nationalist history. They're the most vulnerable to strong personalities -- they are usually frustrated but don't know why, and mix that with adolescent aggression, intense idealism, existential questioning? It's easy for a certain type of person to establish themselves as an authority figure and then... to set an answer in front of them, to implant ideas and mold them into extremist warriors. I've seen it happen across the universe. Factor in the rapid changes that the Romulan culture, particularly, has been going through the last hundred or so years... it's a breeding ground. Honestly, I think we should be more surprised that the movement's not larger than it is. And I think... unfortunately... that it hasn't yet hit its peak."

"Damn shame to end a perfectly nice evening like this," he muttered. They walked along companionably, the conversation shifting to unimportant things after that. Jii had noticed the hollow tone to Jordan's voice before, and wondered if she was really talking about the RLF - or if it were her own experiences that had given her that level of insight. It wasn't a question he was truly comfortable asking.

Before very long, they had reached the door to her quarters. As she looked at Jii, Jordan saw him looking at her a bit oddly. His eyes seemed... darker somehow.

And then, before she'd even realized it, he had leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. "Good night, Jordan," he said, and then he left.

She stood frozen against her door, the warmth of his lips lingering on hers and the fluttering at her core making it almost impossible to think straight. Regardless, the entire context of the evening suddenly fell into place, hitting her upside the head with all the subtly of a 10 ton anvil. Jordan looked down the empty corridor by which he'd long disappeared, perhaps hoping to find him still lingering and yet glad he wasn't.

"Asshole."

"Thirty-six Hours to Go...”Edit

SCPO Lorelai MacRae - Engineering Systems Specialist
MCPO T'Shani sh'Akledor - Chief of the Boat

Thirty-thirty-thirty six hours to go,
I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-oh,
I wanna be sedated

Stardate 2387.605 (T-minus 36:07 until launch) \ Deck 16, Sensor Control, aboard USS Miranda (NCC-77000) \ Work Bay 32, Starbase 616

After a long day of one thing and another, Lorelai was finally heading up to the sensory array, or more accurately, what was left of it. Walking down the corridor, she took a couple of hair-pins out of her pocket and held them between her teeth. She then reached behind her head and bunched her hair up before using the clips to hold it in place. These were no ordinary clips, either: she’d been sure to find ones that were non-conductive and non-magnetic. Such was the life of an engineer; you had to make serious considerations regarding your environment or end up badly injured, or worse.

As Lori walked, she felt as she always did at times like this: comfortable. Engineering was one of the few jobs where the semi-restrictive uniform could be done away with, in favor of a looser-fitting set of coveralls. The various instruments and tools in her belt and pockets shifted slightly as she walked and almost made a rhythm. The belt was a personal preference for Lorelai; having been in hull maintenance, and then damage control, she knew that having to fiddle with catches and cases was quite bothersome - especially when you were in a Jefferies tube or a narrow bulkhead crawl-space. These were just her everyday tools, though - she wouldn’t keep any finely-calibrated or delicate equipment loose in her pockets. They were pretty much the equivalent of a favorite old sweater and your Sunday-best.

The rhythm of the tools kept jingling away and she found herself trying to sing along with them:

...dirty little monsters

Eating all the morsels,
picking up the rubbish

Give her effervescence,
she needs a little sparkle

Good morning...

She stepped through the door and was immediately drowned out by the noise of people at work.

"Watch out!" someone from an upper gantry yelled, waving frantically at MacRae to get out of the way. MacRae snapped out of her daze, heard the shout over the noise of the engineering work, and spun to face its direction. The restraining cables holding one of the sensor array support struts had snapped and the large column of metal was quickly swinging toward her!

"GET DOWN!" was the only thing the engineer heard, before being bodily slammed to the cold, hard deck.

Lorelai opened one eye to see a large cylinder of durasteel penetrating the bulkhead where she had been standing. She opened the other to see a blue hand reaching down, she grabbed it and pulled herself up. "Master Chief," she said while nodding toward the shen, by way of greeting. Next, she tapped her commbadge. "MacRae to engineering. Repair crews report to deck 16, corridor 7." Once taken care of, she turned back to the woman who's word was law, as far as the enlisted crew were concerned. "I guess I should watch where I'm going?" she asked, brushing her coveralls down. "How are you today, Master Chief - falling superstructure accepted, of course?"

"Just frakkin' wonderful," the Andorian grumbled, hefting MacRae off the deck. Turning she focused the brunt of her ire at the crewmen who had been handling the load. "Godsdammit, you simians! If you can't tie a decent half-hitch on your line, then get the frak off my deck, NOW!"

The two young crewman visibly shrunk against the upper gantry, making themselves scarce.

Lorelai nodded as the Master Chief turned back toward her. She didn’t recognize the two crewmen in question; they were probably part of the station crew. She’d probably have to have a word with their own Chief, too. The cable shouldn’t have come away - either it wasn’t rated for that much weight or, as the Master Chief had so directly put it, they couldn’t tie their lines.

"And what brings you up to this Ring of Hell, Senior?" Tish gruffed.

“Exactly *that* kind of thing, Master Chief,” she said, waving an arm back towards the newly-created dent in the duraluminum wall. "It’ll only be one of *my* crews that has to fix it, if something goes wrong, so I want to see how the sensor refit was going with my own eyes." She paused. "I’m a little surprised to see you here though, I thought you’d still be meeting and greeting the Old Man’s successor."

Tish snorted and gyrated her antennas in a 'yeah, so what' manner. "The kid the Old Man picked out?" She shook her head, antennas trailing with reciprocal motion. "I sent Boats down to the flight deck, for that. I've got enough to watch over with this," she replied, hooking a blue thumb over her shoulder. Wiping her hands on her jumpsuit, she turned back to the construction scene, surveying the scurrying crewmen, piles of equipment and ducting, and general state of disarray. "You think your Greasemen can get this ship back together, Senior Chief?"

“No I don’t – I *know* they can,” Lorelai said with a smile. “Although it’s not really our job. We can’t be too hard on the station crew, though - this place is not a dedicated shipyard, after all. By rights, this should have been done the *last* time we were back in the Core,” She said - referring to the Coreworld sectors of Earth, Vulcan, and Andor - with a shrug; the universal gesture between Chiefs that said 'I told them, but did they listen...oh well.'

Lorelai walked over to one of the piles and moved covering sheeting to see what was underneath. "Some good news though," she said from under a plasticene sheet. "I met the new engineer today. A Trill Lieutenant named Jaxom, seems nice enough; keen to get 'hands-on', so that’s a plus." She turned back towards Tish. "What about the others, up in your region? I understand the new XO is also Bajoran. And, I *know* you’ll have been looking over the new CTO, too.”

"I haven't met the XO yet," Tish replied, watching MacRae rummage through the hardware poly-crates. "But scuttlebutt has it that he was a major witness against Lieutenant Lankin, during that whole Federation Day mess." Actually, she was quite looking forward to meeting Commander Anton; anyone who could go toe-to-toe with Kitty Lankin was alright, in her book.

"Well that will be interesting. Frankie mentioned she'd been in a pretty foul mood of late, I guess that must be part of the reason. Couple it with the Old Man going..." she let the sentence fade out. It was no secret that Lankin and Murdock had built a strong bond. Even though Lankin had only physically come on board a year ago, the history was obvious - certainly a river that ran deep.

Tish walked around the pile of equipment, toward a small corner console that had been abandoned in a semi-disassembled state. "Rhooz," she swore, picking up the abandoned tool. Apparently, someone had been trying to re-align the magneto-wave feeds, evidenced by a bundle of half-terminated ODN loops hanging under the exposed pedestal. "I haven't met the CTO, either," Tish sighed, kneeling in front of the access panel. "I heard from Yeoman M'Res, though, that he's quite a looker," she smiled.

"Aye, well..." MacRae *harrumphed*, "we all know what her *taste* in men is like. I'd take *that* opinion with extreme caution if I were you, Master Chief." Lorelai added, rolling her eyes. "Still, if he can tell a phaser from a photon, he'll be doing alright." She knelt down next to the console to have a look. "Hmmm...not the greatest job here, is it? Do you want me to get the repair crews to come by when they've done the bulkhead? Try and tie this up as soon as possible?"

"Yeah, as soon as possible," Tish repeated, dead-pan.

"Okay, I’ll let them know," Lorelai replied. She looked up at the still unfinished array, and blinked away some of the tiredness. She’d been so busy she’d only just realized she’d done nearly four hours overtime.

Tish chuckled, sympathetically. "Thirty, thirty, thirty-six hours to go, Senior, and I just want to be sedated."

Lorelai smiled. "The amount of hours we're working, Master Chief, sleep is the one thing that will *not* be a problem."

"Permission to Eviscerate?"Edit

Lieutenant Nathan Everett
Doctor Robert West

Unlike seemingly most people, sickbay didn't bother Nathan particularly much. And no, it wasn't because of the nurses.

Well, maybe a little bit.

But really, Nathan wasn't exactly sure why sickbay didn't hold the same stigma for him that it did for many others. It could have been because he'd hardly ever needed to visit one in his life, outside of required annual physicals. He rarely got sick, thanks to his robust immune system. So he had no problem stopping by sickbay to report for his mandatory physical examination. Not, however, until he met the doctor who'd be performing it.

"Uh, so...yer Doctor West?" Nathan asked, arching a skeptical eyebrow.

As was the custom for the doctor, Robert took a moment to blankly stare at Nathan before offering any sort of response. Just long enough to cause the air between the two to become slightly awkward.

"I am," he began, in his usual calculating voice, "and YouAreLieutenantEverettIfIAmNot mistaken. Which I'm not."

"Right..." Nathan blinked. "Nice to meet you, Doc. Ah've, uh, Ah've heard a lot about you."

If Robert had been put off by the remark, his face certainly didn't show it.

"No doubt, Lieutenant. I'm SureYou'veHeardAllAboutThe crazy CMO from other members of the crew." he said, without much of a change in his inflection.

"Well, Ah don't remember anyone specifically sayin' the word 'crazy'..." Nathan trailed off, then, and frowned. He'd thought the rumors about the eccentric doctor had been exaggerated, but now that he'd met Doctor West for himself, he was starting to wonder if the rumors hadn't been exaggerated enough.

"Well, then, shall we?" he finally said as he realized yet another awkward silence had settled between the two of them. "Ah'm sure you've got a lot more patients lined up behind me."

Dr. West just nodded and motioned towards the bed, which Nathan took a seat on. Reaching into his lab coat, Robert produced his medical tricorder and began to scan the tactical officer.

"I've read your ProfileYouKnowIt'sVeryInteresting stuff. I've been looking forward ToYourAppointmentEverSinceI came aboard." he said, with a tone of voice that was very suddenly, and very jarringly, upbeat.

Nathan eyed the doctor suspiciously, a little thrown off by the sudden shift in tone. "Really?" he replied, eyes moving to the medical tricorder as it moved over him. "And why's that? If you don't mind me askin'."

Robert shrugged as he continued his practiced motions and replied, "Because normal patients are boring, Lieutenant. IHaveSoFewOpportunitiesToSee other physiological make-ups. Few doctors GetTheChanceToStudyDecendants of engineered humans."

Nathan smiled a little at that. "Well, it's not lahk Ah'm some kinda superman'r nothin', Doc. Ah don't think Ah'd be able to hold a man up with just one hand." He frowned, then, and looked Robert over, as if considering something, then shook his head. "Nah, prob'ly not," he decided.

"To be honest, yer the first doctor Ah've met who's actually been excited about it," Nathan added. "Most everyone else gets kinda spooked about it, as if Ah'm gonna snap at any second'r somethin'." He shook his head. "It's not lahk that."

The doctor gave him a quizzical look, "Snap? Why would AnyoneThinkThat?"

Nathan answered West with a sardonic smile. "Augments had a heightened sense of aggression. 'Superior ability breeds superior ambition.' Most folk have a hard time understandin' that Ah'm not lahk them. Four hundred years' separation between me and Granddad Super-Soldier've kinda diluted things, if you catch mah meanin'."

"Standard degradation of the genes, of course." Robert agreed, "With ThatMuchTimeSeperatingYou from your ancestor, too much standard human DNA is in you to ChangeThingsTooMuch. It never ceases to AmazeMeJustHowLittle most people think about blatantly obvious facts."

He continued his scans as he spoke. This Lieutenant Everett was surprisingly not causing him any exasperation. It was a nice change for the doctor.

"Well, Ah guess people tend to just believe the rumors, no matter how overblown they might be," Nathan replied. He was surprised to find himself actually relaxing a little bit. Aside from a somewhat odd way of talking, West really didn't seem to be as odd as everyone had been making him out to be. "They're either too afraid to try and cut through the stereotypes, or they just don't wanna make the effort. Know what Ah mean?"

Robert *did* know. Only too well.

"Indeed," he said, nodding, "people FindMyMannerToBeStrangeAnd are always thrown off. No one StopsToThinkThatMaybeIFindThem insufferable because they can't KeepUpWithMyPaceOfDoingThings."

The doctor tucked his tricorder back into his coat. To this point, Nathan had been his best physical. He was actually enjoying what he was doing, and the man hadn't questioned his medical expertise even once. Nor had he pulled a Lankin on him, a word he had decided was his new descriptor for people who ignored the superior medical knowledge of their doctors in favor of their own misguided self-diagnosed insanity.

Yes, everything had gone very well up to this point. It was a shame Robert suddenly had to make it weird.

"Everything checks out fine Lieutenant," he continued in his "peppy" voice, "You are InPerfectHealthWhichShouldComeAs no surprise to you. Better than perfect, in fact. I certainly hope that IfForSomeReasonYou expire over the course of this voyage that YouWillAllowMeThePleasureOfPerforming the autopsy for further study."

Nathan nodded absently. He'd begun to check out mentally as soon as West had put away his tricorder, so it took a second longer than usual for him to process what the doctor had said.

"What?!" he finally uttered, doing a double-take as his gaze suddenly snapped back around to look at Robert. "Uh..." Nathan's eyebrows furrowed together as he tried to decide how to respond to West's request.

"Well, Ah s'pose it won't make much of a difference to me," he reasoned with a half-hearted shrug, finding himself a little taken aback at the thought of this strange man happily cutting Nathan open and examining his innards. "So...slice-and-dice away, Doc." He quickly held up his hands. "Not yet, Ah mean."

The upbeat physician stared for a moment into space, as if thinking about the prospect, before a slight, half-smile crept across his lip. Just as quickly as it had appeared, he had moved his focused on to other things.

"OfCourseOfCourseLieutenant," he said, tidying up, "I promise my InstrumentsWillRemainSheathedUntil that point. Everything else checks out. You're finished here."

As if that settled the matter, Robert began to fidget with small items on his workstation, moving them here and there, seemingly accomplishing nothing, but only to the untrained eye.

"Uh...Doc?" Nathan prompted. "Doc?" He waved a hand, which failed to attract West's attention. He appeared to be extremely interested in the items littering his workstation.

Nathan shrugged and hopped off the bed. "Well, then, Ah guess Ah'll head on out," he said slowly as he made for the exit. "Nice meetin' ya, Doc." He turned and looked to West as he kept backing up towards the doorway. The doctor was still entranced by the medical gear splayed before him. Nathan frowned and spun back around, quickly leaving the room.

"Yikes," he muttered.

"No Talking in the Library"Edit

Lieutenant Nathan Everett
Lieutenant JG Aurelia Jaxom

The Miranda's shipboard Library, while not exactly the Library of Congress, was surprisingly large. While the majority of its contents could be found on various computer terminals dotted throughout the library, there was still a very respectable number of actual books, no doubt for those who preferred a more...tangible research experience. A lot of its material could probably also be accessed just as easily from the computer terminal in his quarters, which Nathan normally would have done in this situation, but after the chaos of the last couple days, he figured that the peace and quiet could do him some good.

Aside from the librarian on duty, the place was practically empty when he'd arrived, so Nathan was surprised when he came across a lone woman sitting at one of the tables between rows of books. She was apparently concentrating rather hard on whatever work she was studying, because she didn't seem to notice Nathan when he slid into the seat across from her.

"Wow, that must be one hell of a good read," he joked.

Aurelia looked up. "What? Oh, yeah, it's not too bad. A little bit long-winded in certain sections but that's the author's modus operandi. I'm Aurelia."

He got comfortable in his seat and offered Aurelia a friendly smile. "Nathan."

"Nice to meet you," She replied, marking her page. "You're probably the first person I've seen in here in a few hours."

"Yeah, well, Ah guess most folk're too busy gettin' hollered at 'bout how not-ready the ship is to be hangin' around in the library," Nathan replied with a shrug. "So what're you readin'?"

She showed him the cover so he could read it. "Interpreting Klingon Death Rites by Allen Smith. It's for a thesis I'm working on."

Nathan's eyebrows shot up. "Klingon death rites?" He whistled quietly. "Ah'm impressed. Wait a sec...Allen Smith." His eyes narrowed as the name registered something in his memory. "Oh yeah, wasn't he involved in the S31 incident a couple years back?"

"Yes, I think so," Aurelia said tightly, setting the book aside. "What are you reading?"

"Hadn't gotten that far," Nathan admitted, showing Aurelia his empty hands. "And Ah'm no expert, but that sounded lahk a dodge to me." He tilted his head to the side, regarding Aurelia curiously. "Touchy subject?"

"A touch," She said with a hint of a smile. "And probably not for our first book group. What do you like to read or are you doing research?"

Nathan smiled a little bit and backed off, acknowledging that it was none of his business. "The latter, actually," he answered. "Ah was gonna look up some documentation on the Trailblazer-class, study up on her tactical systems so Ah don't accidentally blow us up 'stead of the other guys." He nodded. "That's what Ah do, by the way. Ah'm a tactical officer. Technically *the* tactical officer, Ah s'pose," he added with a shrug. "What about you? What line of work're you in?"

"Psychology. I work in Science and Counseling," Her smiled widened. "And I appreciate you not blowing us up."

He grinned. "Yeah, well, Ah figure these spaceship thingamajigs tend to work better when they aren't on fire or fallin' apart around us, so Ah try to aim the guns the other way." He looked down at Aurelia's book again. "Yer interested in Klingons? Ah met one, once. Well, kinda. It wasn't exactly a social call, if y'know what Ah mean."

"Really? Would you mind telling me about it? My paper is on comparative agressive cultures but the Klingon section here is a bit dated."

"Sure," Nathan agreed with a smile. "But all the lack-of-noise down here's kinda gettin' to me. You wanna grab a drink?" he offered. "Ah promise Ah'll tell you everything you wanna know."

"That'd be a great." Aurelia neatly stacked the books that needed to be collected and grabbed Smith's books and her notes. "Let me just go check this out."

"Sure thing," Nathan said as he stood up and followed her out.

"Having A Drink"Edit

Ensign Steven Russell, Security Officer
Cpo Joseph Greene, Master-at-Arms

Steven strode into the locker rooms. The team Adan had assigned him was working out well. All were seasons NonComs and knew a little bit about fighting. It didn't seem any had had the experience he had, especially with the Klingons, but with his knowledge it wouldn't be too hard to get them in shape to fight them if needed. And Steven was always looking for a good reason o kick some Klingon ass.

As he looked around he saw one other person, "how goes it?"

Joe nodded ad the younger man, "Goes well. You?"

"Ensign Russell," Steven said as he walked over to shake the mans hand. "You are?"

Joe took his hand, "Chief Greene."

"Nice to meet you Chief," Steven said as he took off the jacket of his uniform. "I'm heading to the bar for a drink. First round my treat. All subsequent are on you," Steven grinned.

Joe chuckled, "Well how can I say no to that."

Steven thought a moment, "well, I can come up with a few ideas." Steven said as put on a clean jacket. "Lead the way"

He nodded and shrugged in to some clean clothing before heading out the door with the ensign following behind, besides he did want to figure out where the bar was on this ship.

The pair entered one of the turbolifts and Steven punched in the location. "Now, if I remember right this is the correct way... I think."

"Not exactly the most comforting thing to hear."

"I can tell you we won't end up at the Captain's mess. Already did that once. But we may end up at... what's her name... oh who cares, her quarters." The lift doors opened and the pair walked out. "And I can tell you that we are not on the way to her quarters.... I think..."

Joe shrugged, "Well we shall see where we end up."

"You are a quiet one arn't you?" Steven asked as they rounded the corner and was faced with the bar. "See, looks like I did know what I was doing after all!" The two headed in and picked a spot at the bar. "What will you have?"

Joe looked over the choices, "Guiness please." He looked at the young

ensign, "Just getting used to the ship is all, these things get confusing."

"One Guiness and one Amber," Steven ordered as the bartended walked over to them. "Tell me about it. I haven't server on a ship.... well... I think the last time I spent any great deal of time on one was during the Dominion war. And that was mostly for redeployments along different worlds that were in conflict."

Joe nodded, "That must have been an experience, me mostly been on ship little more variety. Starbases and shore is fine and all but it gets routine."

"True," Steven replied as their drinks arrived, "but during war nothing is routine. Then after that they decided to put us war vets over near the Klingons. We might as well be at war with them instead of the cloak and dagger crap, or the occasional scuffle."

"The Klingons know they can't win a straight up war, so they do this sneaking around shit, that way they don't have to risk getting knocked around."

Steven nodded. "So true. Damn cowards. But, I guess without their "assistance" the Dominion War would have lasted longer. There are some mean SOBs right there!"

"Yeah, I know guys who've fought side by side during the Dominion War with them nothing but respect for them say they're like Vikings or Spartans, best pure warriors they've seen."

Steven nodded, "still rather see them dead. What did you do for the war?"

"Personal security." Joe responded, "I had to protect the Captain on my assignment, though we did get boarded twice."

Steven nodded, "least you got something. I think I saw to much. Scared and all that, ya'know?"

Joe nodded, "You don't want to see too much, burns you out inside." He shrugged, "Besides being scared is not a bad thing, people don't think fear is a good thing, but it keeps you smart."

Steven nodded and finished off his drink. "Well, I think I should probably head out. Early shift in the morning."

"Sounds like a good idea, gotta finish getting checked in anyway, start routine early tomorrow."

"Unexpected Encounters"Edit

Dr Lt Jerry Wolfson, ACMO

A Cast of Former and Current Family Members (including Dr Helen Cutter (ex-wife), Cpt Sean Wolfson (ret, dad), Makenzie Wolfson (daughter))

Promenade
Station 616

The Promenade of Station 616 was crowded with beings from almost every species in the Federation, including a few that he didn't recognize. It was only to be expected, though. A station like this was an intergalactic stopping point for every Starfleet, civilian, and smuggler in the quadrant. However, his mind wasn't on identifying the species he saw. Jerry Wolfson was a man on a mission, pushing his way through the crowd, heading towards one of the myriad of shops that lined the promenade. He had his eyes set on picking up more games and activities for the recreation deck while they were still docked.

That was when he saw her.

If he wanted, he could allow himself a mere moment to appreciate her beauty, that glorious red hair of hers and her vibrant green eyes, and to remember the good times - what few there were. He didn't want that, though. He'd been down that path far too many times. That didn't stop his heart from skipping a beat as his eyes traced her familiar profile. Nor did it stop him from pausing mid-step, captured by the mixture of shock, despair, anger, grief, hatred, and what might still have been love. He had loved her. She didn't love him.

She shouldn't be here. She didn't belong here. She was supposed to be on Earth. With Kenzie. He didn't hear the familiar voice of his daughter; did Helen leave Kenzie at home? Why would Helen be here, though? In space. Away from Earth. Here.

It'd be typical if she came just because she knew there was a chance she'd see him. Helen never missed a chance to tell him, or show him, just how over him she was. What husband was she on now? Three? And she'd the nerve to tell him that it was his fault she'd left him.

Listen to him. He was pandering on about something long gone and buried. He should let her be. Find the games he'd wanted and get back to the ship. Regardless, he still found himself drawing closer to her, step by step, ignoring the annoyed grumble of crowd as he didn't move fast enough for them.

Jerry knew the instant she saw him. The half-smile that had been on her face disappeared to be replaced by a rather unflattering scowl. "Jerry," she said.

"Helen," he replied in the same tone. "I wasn't expecting to see you here."

"Shouldn't you be on your ship?" she asked, sarcasm dripping from her voice. "Doing your job?"

"Shouldn't you be with Kenzie?" he countered. "Where is she?"

"At home. With your parents."

With his-? At least it wasn't with her parents. It could've been worse. Though, admittedly, that does seem to be a rather frequent comment of Helen's. Kenzie was with his parents. "Oh."

"She'll be fine," Helen said, her lips narrowing into a thin line. That was a look he remembered well. "Richard is looking in on her, too. Helping out as needed."

"Richard?" He barked out a laugh. "Richard wouldn't know how to raise a child if one was handed to him. At least she's with my mum and dad." He paused, realizing that she was here alone. "What are you doing out here anyway?"

"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear you say that. Richard is a good man. And, if you must know, I'm on holiday."

He blinked at her. "You're on holiday. Without Kenzie. And without Richard." The snide, cruel part of him wanted to ask if she was having marital troubles.

She stepped forward and smacked her hand against his chest, startling him. "Yes, without Kenzie. And without Richard. I'm meeting some of my friends here. Do you have any idea what it's like to deal with-?"

"I'd be happy to take her," he replied, narrowing his eyes. "I'll resign my commission right now." He'd do it, too. If Helen was really complaining about having to deal with Kenzie...

"I have full custody of Makenzie, Gerald Reid Wolfson. She's mine. And you can't have her," Helen snarled. "What I was trying to say is that Kenzie's got school. I can't just pull her out of school for a holiday; you know that. And what I was talking about was dealing with my job."

He didn't like it; but he didn't have to, did he? Helen was right. She had full custody. He'd tried a few times to wrestle custody back, or to at least get joint custody, but Helen came from old money. He could never afford to buy what she could. Including a pack of vicious lawyers who seemed to take pleasure from grabbing a rather hefty amount from his paycheck each month.

He'd have to call his parents, see how Kenzie was doing, when he got back to the ship. "Fine," he said, holding up his hands. "You're dealing with work issues. Got it." Liar. But he couldn't exactly say that out loud. This conversation was tense enough as it was. "When're you going back to Earth?" How long were his parents watching Kenzie?

"In two weeks."

Two weeks? Blimey, that was a long holiday. But what right does he have to nag her about it? Not like they're married any more. And he shouldn't be concerned. Really shouldn't. It wasn't like he cared or anything. And Kenzie had the best care. His parents were wonderful people, if a little eccentric. "Well, have a good holiday, Helen. I need to get back to my ship."

She smiled tightly. "Good-bye, Jerry. I'll expect the next alimony and child support payment in two weeks."

Of course she did. He smiled back, an exact duplicate of her expression. "You'll get it."

"Good." With that, she turned and disappeared into the crowd. If he wanted, he could follow her every step by the flash of her red hair. He could do that. But he didn't. He didn't care about her any more.

He should call Kenzie when he got back to the ship, see how she was getting on. But, first, he had shopping to take care of.

Jerry Wolfson only turned back once on his way across the promenade, trying to catch a glimpse of Helen. He considered that to be a small victory.

Junior Officer's Quarters
USS Miranda

Jerry Wolfson dropped the two bags full of games next to his bed and decided to let those things rest there for the time being. He wanted to see his daughter. Talk to her. Anything to diminish the memory of encountering Helen on the station. She was a hard woman to be around, especially since his memories tended to overwhelm him sometimes. Memories of the good times, yes, but mostly the bad.

Frowning, he settled himself in front of the tiny desk and tapped a few commands into the terminal. "Connect me to Ealing, United Kingdom, Earth. Comm number 456380071, please."

The Starfleet logo was replaced moments later by the familiar face of his dad. "Jerry! Good to see you son. You caught us at the right time. We're about to go out." Sean Wolfson's once dark brown hair had long ago turned to salt and pepper, but he still cut a striking figure. Especially with the aura of command that still surrounded him, despite his having retired from his captaincy some years before. Sean's face crinkled slightly as he grinned and Jerry felt himself relax imperceptibly now that he'd seen his dad.

"What is it this time, Dad?" he asked. "Scuba diving? Drag racing?"

"Hang gliding," his dad replied. "Thought we'd show Kenzie what it was like to fly."

His jaw dropped slightly. "Hang gliding? With my daughter?"

"Daddy!" a familiar voice shouted, bouncing into view in front of his dad. "I want to stay with Grandma and Grandpa all the time! They're so cool!" Makenzie Wolfson's bright blue eyes were practically dancing with excitement as she all but vibrated in place.

He laughed. "Heya squirt."

"Daaad," she complained, drawling the 'a'. "I'm Kenzie."

"Until you're taller than me, you're still a squirt, squirt. How've you been?" he asked, his eyes tracing his daughter's features, practically memorizing them again. She looked good. Happy. Well-fed. Not that he expected anything less when his parents were watching her.

"Great! Gram and Grandpa are awesome. I still have to do my homework, but that's okay. We're going hang gliding today!" Kenzie said, grinning. "I got your letter! How're you? How's your new ship? The Miranda, right? Have you met anyone nice yet? Can I meet them? I gotta see if they're good enough for you."

His daughter - the relationship specialist. "I've met a few nice people, but not in the way you mean."

Her smile dimmed slightly. "Dad, it's been ages since you last saw anyone."

"Kenzie -" he began.

"Kenzie, why don't you see what your grandma's doing in the kitchen?" Sean asked, interrupted them both before they strayed too far into that particular territory.

"Okay! Bye Daddy! Love you!" Kenzie said, blowing a kiss at him.

"Bye, squirt. Love you, too," he said, smiling as she disappeared from view.

"What's going on, son?" Sean asked, correctly managing to read him.

"I saw Helen today."

Sean drew in a deep breath. "And?"

"And what, Dad? I find out that she's on holiday, our daughter's left at home, and she didn't even bring her husband along. What am I supposed to think?" he asked.

"Kenzie's fine with-"

"Don't you think I know that?" he asked. "I'm glad she thought to leave her with you two. Much better than her parents. But she can't keep doing that to you."

"Son, it's okay," Sean said. "We keep an eye on them both. Nothing'll happen to Kenzie."

He sighed. "I know. I'm being difficult."

"No, you're being a dad," Sean said with an understanding smile. "I'll have Kenzie call you in a few days. Let you know how she's doing, okay?"

He nodded. "Thanks, Dad."

"You're welcome, son."

"Give my love to mum?"

"Always. Take care of yourself, boy. It has been too long since you've met a nice girl," Sean said, winking at him.

He was sorely tempted to echo Kenzie's earlier 'Daaaad', but restrained himself. Barely. "Bye, Dad. Love you. Take care of Kenzie for me."

"Always. Love you, too."

A moment later, the screen went black. With a sigh, he turned away from the viewscreen and looked at the bags sitting by his bed. His parents would look after Kenzie and there was nothing he had to worry about at least with his daughter. His ex-wife on the other hand...

He shook his head. He shouldn't worry about it right now. He had work to do.

But that didn't stop him from thinking about it.

"It's the Fixing That Counts"Edit

Lt. Jamus Jaxom
Chief Engineer

Dr. Lt. Jerry Wolfson
ACMO

Engineering Deck
USS Miranda

They said that ships, especially starships, spoke in a unique language that only engineers knew. To Jerry Wolfson - onetime engineer - that language was one that he could only sporadically speak, and only if he used several unique words that shouldn't be spoken in polite company. That was the way it had been on the Horizon, in another life. Though he'd been her Chief Engineer, she'd been a cantankerous old ship, prone to fits of stubbornness rivalled only by his ex-wife. His second ex-wife, that was. Emily - he quickly turned his thoughts to something else, something more upbeat.

The Miranda, though, sang. Every hum and beep and creak combined into a song that part of him longed to decipher. But that part of him had been long buried, submerged beneath the physician he was now. However, every once in a while, that engineer in him managed to encourage him to wander down hallways where he wasn't stationed, nor had any reason to be.

That engineer in him could be a right bastard.

Jerry found himself walking into main engineering, stepping to the side to get out of the way of the other engineers, and simply looking, his blue eyes taking in the massive warp core. Wait. Something was different about her. Almost...no, it couldn't be. That technology was still in the design phases. He hadn't heard anything new about it since, well, since that fateful year he was drowning his sorrows in alcohol after Emily's death. It'd still have to be in design phase, right? Nothing gets built this quickly.

Jamus was carrying some parts he most likely should have gotten help with. It was a long carton he had balanced on his shoulder which partially blocked the view of where he was heading. "Excuse me. Comin' through!" he spoke up every meter or so in case someone found themselves in his way.

He blinked, coming back to himself with a start. "Blimey! Sorry about that." He turned and faced the other man, taking in the distinctive spots of a Trill dotting the man's face and neck and the Lieutenant's stripes on his sleeves. "I'm Doctor Jerry Wolfson, Lieutenant. I was just-" He waved his hand towards the core. "-admiring her." Whatever the hell she was. It couldn't be what he thought it was.

Jamus set the carton down after nearly whacking the doctor with it. "Aye. She's a beaut ain't she?"

Jamus noticed the blue uniform and then didn't recognize Wolfson as part of his staff. Knowing that the slipstream capabilities were still suppose to be under wraps for the time being, he inquired, "A bit far from sickbay then, are we?"

"A bit. A new model, this one, isn't she? Can't say I've seen a core quite like it before," he replied, nodding towards the warp core.

"Sorry, I'm Jamus Jaxom, Chief Engineer," he offered his hand to shake. "And yes, she's a new model," he motioned to the slipstream warp core, "the newest from what the captain has told me. We're going over with a fine toothed comb to make sure the Corp didn't muck up the installation too much." He good naturedly elbowed Wolfson in the side, "You know those Corp of Engineering types. Heh."

Jerry laughed. "Pleasure to meet you. And, aye, that I do. Call me Jerry, please. Been a while since I was last in an engineering bay. Thought I'd go for a wander. Didn't meant to get in your way, though. Thought I was far enough to the side to avoid bothering anyone."

Jamus shook his head good naturedly, "Don't worry about it. We've had all kinds of visitors. Just be wary of moving equipment and such. The last thing we want is someone getting hurt."

The Trill took a moment to answer a question one his staff had. Turning back to Jerry he noticed the blue uniform, "So then, medical or sciences?"

"Medical, actually," he replied.

"I see, you're a bit off your beaten track down here? When I have time I'll do some wandering myself."

"Well, sort of. Used to be one of you lot myself a while back. If you don't mind, I'd love to take a look around," Jerry said as his lips stretched into a smile.

"I don't mind," Jamus' tone took on a conspiratorial tone, "But don't get caught. The captain wants 'this' warp core kept under wraps for the time being," he winked, "if you know what I mean." He was sure Jerry knew being a former engineer. In fact, Jamus guessed Jerry already knew what he was looking at.

Jerry laughed. "Dunno 'bout you, but I was looking for someone to give a physical to." He winked at his co-conspirator. "But yep, I do. She's a beautiful ship." He wouldn't want to even attempt to guess at what speed she could do. If that was what he thought it was, of course. He couldn't ask for confirmation, though. He wasn't supposed to know judging by Jaxom's comment. So he wouldn't know. Not really.

"So what made you decide to switch careers from engineering," Jamus asked, "If you don't mind me askin' that is."

"I was the Chief Engineer of the USS Horizon," he replied, a muscle ticking in his jaw. It'd been all over the news when the tragedy had happened. Sometimes, he could still see the myriad reporters shoving their recorders and microphones in his face when he closed his eyes.

Jamus nodded slowly. He remembered hearing the news. "Warp core breaches are not easily dealt with... I'm sure you did the best you could and you know saving anyone in that scenario is a heroic thing. I think you should be proud," he said solemnly.

"I managed to save a few lives; but when it counted, we didn't have enough medics to do the job. Only one man died in the explosion. The rest died because no-one was available to treat them." Including Emily. That he didn't say out loud. "Suppose that's why I'm now a doctor. Doesn't mean I still don't miss this -" he waved his hand to encompass main engineering "-every once in a while."

Jamus wanted to add, 'That wasn't your fault. The important thing to remember is you got them the chance.' but judging from doctor's expression he didn't want to continue along that subject line. "Tell ya what then, anytime you get some itching to pick up a spanner or a torch, you c'mon down and I'll getcha something to do, eh?" He gave Jerry another playful nudge with his elbow.

Jerry laughed. "I'd like that." More than that, he'd enjoy spending more time with Jamus.

"Good," Jamus said, "Glad I can help."

He grinned. "Yep. Now, there is a bit of a tradition after we slip out of spacedock on any mission. And that's the ship's party. I'm setting it up, getting the food supplies ready and the drinks. I hope I'll see you there. Believe you, me, all work and no play isn't a good thing. Though, admittedly, with a ship like this, and a job like yours, work and pleasure do seem to combine."

Jamus laughed, "I see, with a statement like that, you're definitely engineer material... and party would be a good thing. It'll be good to meet the rest of the crew."

Jerry grinned. "Engineering is in my blood. I just happen to fix people more often now than machines. Still. I'll look for you there. I owe you a beer for this." He nodded around the engineering bay and held out his hand. "Thanks, Jamus."

"It's the fixing that counts," Jamus offered with a small wink.

"Surprise Arrival"Edit

Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer
Operations Petty Officer, npc

Junior Officers Quarters, USS Miranda

Jacen had to admit to himself again that he wasn't impressed with the chapel. But he knew that he really wouldn't be, being too much of a solitary practitioner. So he came back to his new home to change and head over to 616 for a few items before the ship left.

As he was getting ready to leave, the chime grabbed his attention, "Enter." He walked out into the main room and saw a mid-sized crate enter in front of an Operations non-com, "Can I help you?"

The non-com smiled, "Yes, sir. Are you Ensign McAlister?"

"Yes, Petty Officer."

"This crate is for you, sir. It arrived earlier today and needs your verification." He handed Jacen a PADD, telling him it was from Earth.

He reviewed the info and did his best to not show the shock he felt. So he verified and handed the PADD back, "There you go. Is there anything else?"

"No, sir. Thank you. Have a good one, sir." He didn't even stay for Jacen to respond.

Jacen didn't mind though, he knew that Operations most likely was as crazy as Medical and Security must be. So he just went to opening the crate and wanted to just throw it out the nearest airlock. He couldn't believe that Mother sent this over his objections, but he should considering her stubbornness.

Inside the crate was various cloths for decorations; his favorite bed coverings and pillows; parts he needed for a new besom; a few more change of clothes; a few decorative vases and candlesticks and several books.

He laughed at it all. He put the lid back on and grabbed a PADD. He made sure to leave Jerry a note before he headed out, 'The crate is mine and I'll empty it when I get back. Let me know if it's cool to set up the contents and spruce the place up.' He put the PADD on Jerry's bed and walked out.

++++++++++

2 hours later

Jacen walked back in to his quarters and checked to see if Jerry had been back and he hadn't, so he removed the PADD and cleared it. He was thankful that he didn't get anything over a the station.

He went about clearing out the crate and broke it down, sending a request to have it removed as soon as possible. He put the clothes away and set up the bed to his liking. As for the rest of the cloths and decorative nick-knacks, he folded the cloths and put it all on the table. He knew he had to talk to Jerry before setting all the stuff up, it was only proper.

He sat down and wondered if he should check in at Sciences. He probably should have done so when he first got on board, but without a Department Head he didn't think it would do much good. But he even admitted that it would look good if he made the effort. So he got up and changed into his uniform and headed out.

He just hoped that Sciences had someone in charge who knew what was going on and who was going to be his new boss.

“With Or Without An 'E'”Edit

SCPO. Lorelai MacRae, Engineering Systems Specialist
SCPO. Jessica Byrne, Navigational Specialist (NPC)

Bunkroom Three, CPO Country, USS Miranda

Lorelai sat at the small desk in her bunk room, completing her log for the day.

“Damage repair crews were assigned to assess and repair the damage. I have composed a communique to the supervising Chief responsible to express my concerns relating to the incident.” She paused for a moment to rub her eyes and stifled a yawn. The door slid open and her bunkmate stepped through into the room. She gave a small wave and mouthed a greeting just before she wrapped up.

“I have also copied Command Master Chief T'Shani sh'Akledor on the communication due to both her professional interest in the project and as a matter of courtesy. End log.” She turned on the chair and looked up towards her bunk mate.

“Finished?” Asked Jess, in her light Irish brogue. She put her hand to her mouth letting out a heavy yawn. She was perched on the edge of the top bunk and was trying to untangle her hair grip with, it should be added, little success. She was a little younger than Lorelai but they shared enough common interests to make bunking together quite a pleasant experience - their Scottish and Irish heritage coming together to form a Goidelic alliance.

“I am – finally. It sounds like you've had a busy day yourself?”

“That’s an understatement. Commander Summers has got us working around the clock making sure that new sensor array integrates properly into the navigation systems; which, by the way, we have the wrong parts for. Then there's the new propulsion systems but that, at least, will be your problem. The Commander seems worried we’ll warp right into a planet. I had to pull a double shift, that’s why I wasn’t here when you got up. I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“No,” replied Lorelai, “I was dead to the world. I just figured you’d made an early start, I didn’t realize you were doing double duty.”

“Neither did I until last night.” Jess said with a resigned expression. “To make matters worse the Commander disappeared of to the station.”

“Well, it’s probably a little unfair to call her out on that.” Said Lorelai. “You know she’s got a family on the station and you know she misses them when we’re on a tour. Plus, she has double duty everyday, running navigation and being SO for the whole ship. If I were her I’d be clawing at the door too – and so would you.”

“I guess,” replied Jess, laying back into her bunk, “but there are people I want to see off-ship too.”

“Like that Bolian freighter captain?” Lorelai said, tongue firmly in cheek.

“He was...*something*” Jess replied. Lorelai couldn’t see the face of her bunkmate but she could imagine the smile. Jess had been quite taken with the Bolian in question and his regular trade route took him through the Starbase but, as is always the way, they just seemed to keep missing each other. “How was your day anyway?”

“Ach, much the same as yours, only four hours extra for me though.” She paused. “I met some of the new senior staff too, my new boss among them.”

“How was he? He is a he, right?”

“Aye, and *he* seemed fine enough. He’ll need to find his feet but that’s to be expected, I got the feeling his transfer came though after all the others. I met the new ACMO as well, he used to be an engineer actually.”

“Which one is that?” The navigator asked, there had been so many people coming and going in the senior staff it was hard to keep track.

“Doctor Wolfson. He's the...erm...the more stable one.”

“Ah.” Jess nodded, signified by the slight shuffling sound from the bunk. Tales of the new CMO had circulated throughout the ship with an unprecedented speed.

A slight silence fell across the room as both women sat in their respective states of tiredness. Lorelai stood and walked over to the cupboard. “Care for a wee dram before lights out?” Asked the Scot.

“What have you got this time?” Jess replied turning over in her bunk to face Lorelai. “I don't want any of that Island stuff you had before - it burns too much and tastes like an allotment.”

Lorelai pulled a face. “If you are referring to the twelve year old Laphroaig then no, it's not.”

“Good.” Jess replied. “I like a smoother blend of whiskey, something warming but without fire. Just to take the edge off the day.”

“Well your in luck then. This one is the latest that Declan sent out, a ten year from Tomintoul, I'm sure it'll remind you more of home; it's much smoother on the palette.” Lorelai poured out two small glasses of the amber liquid and passed one up to Jessica.

“I guess you won't need these for bribery purposes anymore,” She said taking the glass, “what with the Old Man being gone?.”

“I guess.” Said Lorelai, smiling and twirling the tumbler in her hand.

Jess considered this for a second before holding her glass aloft in a toast. “A brave new world.”

“A brave new world indeed.” The engineer replied, the sound of the tumblers *clinking* together in the otherwise silent room.

"CPO Greene's Psyche Eval w/ Lokai"Edit

Counselor Kaori Lokai
CPO Joseph Greene

Having gotten a place to keep his stuff, Joe was next to see the counselor. He was used to this, ask a few questions, they make sure he didn't think he was high warlord of Duluth or something, then he went about his way.

Showing up at the main office he tugged his jacket down then checked in with the receptionist.

The receptionist looked up, "I'm sorry, the Counselor isn't in." She was about to ask him to make an appointment when the door opened up. An woman walked in and approached the receptionist. Kaori smiled at the gentleman. "Hello."

The receptionist smiled at her, "Looks like he's your next patient." Kaori nodded, "Good. It'll give me a chance to practice."

Looking at him once again, she motioned for him to follow her.

Joe nodded, ok practice, not exactly the best thing to hear but hey, he was old hand at this stuff. He followed the counselor in to her office and looked around, before taking a seat.

Kaori could read the expression on his face. "That was a joke by the way." She found some military people to be a bit stuffy and humor could either make them smile or make them really annoyed.

He chuckled a bit, "Ok... besides I don't exactly object to being the guinea pig, someone's gotta be."

"That's a start." She realized that she didn't even know who she was talking to. "Introductions would be a great start, don't you think?"

"Usually a good start, Joseph Greene, Chief Petty Officer and Master at arms."

"Well then, hello. I'm Counselor Kaori Lokai. I'm the Chief Counselor here." She brought up his last psyche evaluation and the room became silent as she read it.

"Hmm interesting. So, now that we know who we are, tell me a bit about you. Let's start with your childhood, shall we?"

"What's there to tell?" Joe paused, "I grew up on New Vulcan, dad got a good job offer there before I was born, I was in the human enclave mostly, different area, I mean they didn't want to send us to Vulcan schools for obvious reasons, but it was a good life." He shrugged, "Had the usual rebellious streak a mile wide then caused havoc and then I enlisted...."

"It says that your mother died when you were six. What's your thoughts about that? I mean, do you remember her at all?"

"Somewhat." he shifted a bit, "I mean let's face it, I was just starting first grade, then it happened, memory's a big foggy about it but it's like flashes y'know."

"Oh, I see. It's not uncommon for a six year old to be affected by a mother's death. I've seen 3 year olds affected. Anger and acting out is one of the outcomes of the death of a parent." She paused, "Then your father married a Vulcan. How is the relationship between you and her?"

"Well I was 8 then, she was coming in trying to be new mom, yeah that didn't go to well, I was less then thrilled."

"I see you've been in trouble several times growing up. Do you think that maybe your mother's passing and your father marrying someone else, especially a Vulcan, could have had something to do with your issues growing up?"

Again with a shrug, "Well I was a kid, kids do stupid stuff all the time, I'm lucky I didn't do anything serious, it might have but I'm not sure if it did or not. Then again I wasn't exactly thinking when I was doing stupid stuff."

"It seems that you had more problems when you joined Starfleet. Tell me about the Risa incident."

"Group of guys in a bar, too much alcohol too much testosterone, punches get thrown, I got caught, so I took the punishment, I mean it was some stupid dust up with the Merchant Marine. " He shrugged, "Sounds odd but that' generally what happens, I mean it did give me a kick in the ass to straighten up."

"I'd say. Forty-five days confinement to a ship. How did that make you feel?"

"I could have gotten a full court martial and some jail time, so I was relieved that happened, more annoyed that I got hammered, but then again I did deserve it."

"So you think the punishment fit the crime." She observed him closely.

"Yeah." he shrugged, "I mean at the time it felt like crap, being stuck on the ship for over a month, no shoreleave, no base time, no nothing, but they did have to do something, you can't just have folks getting in to fights and all that." He paused, "Besides, afterwords I handled it like I should have, backed my teammates up, took my punishment and didn't repeat the incident."

"How do you feel about Klingons and Jem Hadar? I mean, you had to deal with them several times during your time in Starfleet."

"Jem'Hadar, can't stand em, bred to fight and kill, Klingons, I mean we've had some tussles, but then again, there were times we'd be on shoreleave sharing a bar with them and they weren't bad, yeah they had a professional interest in fighting us, but it was more like, duty then hatred, so I don't dislike them as heavily, in another universe who knows eh? but that's life."

"So if we could take all that is wrong with the Jem Hadar and incorporate them into Starfleet, you'd be against that?"

"Yeah, we don't need mindless killing machines. Not caring if they live or die, I'd be very against that." He paused, "I mean why would we want that anyway?"

"I don't know. Anything is possible." She read on, "You were a drill instructor?"

"Yeah, a few years, it was a good job. Shaping the new kids. Getting them in line, hell we used to say make them someone you'd want to serve with."

"With everything that you have been through, how is your relationship with your parents now?"

"Better, I mean Talked to them more about things made some peace in that area." He nodded, "Still not perfect, but who's relationship is am I right?"

"I've always believed mine is." She didn't mean to say that so to recover, she added, "But there is always an exception to the rule."

He chuckled, "I know, some folks get along better, hell maybe it's why you're a counselor and I'm not...."

"Touche." She was getting off the subject, "When you look back at your life now, what would you change if you could?"

"That's a toughy, honestly not a thing, not that I'm proud of everything I've done, but then again if I change one thing I change who I am today."

That was exactly what she wanted to hear. Her receptionist entered with perfect timing. She brought in two cups of coffee and sat it down on Kaori's desk. She apologized for the interruption. She had meant to bring it in before the session. "Thank you." It didn't bother her.

Kaori offered the one cup of coffee to him, "I hope that you like black coffee."

"Never disagreed with it." He took the coffee and took a sip, pretty good actually, "It's how I've started my day most times."

"Good." She took her coffee and sat back in her chair, "I guess I've gotten what I need. Is there anything that you feel you need to talk about?"

"Not really, you got anything to talk about?"

"No, I'm fine." She took a sip again of her coffee, "Thank you for coming in. You're one less person that I have to chase down."

"I'm used to it, being in security we have to get shrunk a bit more, the whole access to weaponry thing." He teased.

"Well we can't exactly put our trust in a lunatic now can we?" She was joking of course and smiled to confirm that it was a joke.

He grinned back, "too true. besides the voices in my head are quiet today." Ok she had a good sense of humor.

Kaori chuckled a bit, "Voices in your head? Maybe I should double think this report."

He laughed then finished his coffee, "Well on that note I'll let you rethink and I'll go back to work. See ya around."

"Taking Notes for Psyche Evals, Round 2"Edit

Counselor Kaori Lokai
Counselor's office

Kaori sat back down with a cup of coffee and continued where she left off. She pulled up Dr. West's psyche evaluation but stopped half way down. Just the first few things she came across gave her a headache. She decided to leave him for another Counselor who would be better at dealing with a fast talking Doctor.

Summers, 2nd officer, etc was next. It seemed that her sister and her had grown apart. Due to the history between the two she cold see why. As she read on, once again, tears formed around her eyes. He had died and that still touched her in many ways. She read that she has kids and a husband. This she knew would prove to be hard to deal with even though they reside at SB616.

As for Lankin, the Intel Field Director, there was nothing in her past that would raise a red flag. She has a high IQ, nothing terrible there. She does have an extreme fear of hyposprays and meds. Finally there was something to deal with. And then there's the relationship with her dad.

Kador, COS had a rough life too. He was imprisoned and had to deal with Jem Ha'dar, Breens, and Cardassians. As she read on, it seemed that things finally went his way. She wondered how he coped with all that then. That Psyche evaluation was very interesting.

Jamus Jaxom, Chief Engineer, lost his parents when he was young. He has one failed marriage and a neat freak. She made note of this too.

Chief Science Officer, Gazer@Stars, a Kzinti , she had never seen one much less talk to one. As soon as she found out that he was telepathic, she decided he'd be best suited with another telepath.

She was at this point yawning and rubbing her eyes. She had read enough. Hungry...the one word her stomach screamed. Not having a replicator sucked but those meals sucked anyway. She'd take a walk to the mess hall and grab a drink, a strong drink, that is, and a meal as she was now off duty.

"A Thorn Among Roses"Edit

LtCmdr K Jordan Lankin
Lt. j.g. Terrence Horn

"Mighty nice place you got here," the handsome young lieutenant noted, setting the tool pack he'd brought in on the long arch of a desk in front of him. He took in the sterile crispness of the intelligence center's anteroom for another moment, then turned his attention back to the Betazoid gatekeeper. "Looks like they have some mighty pretty staff too."

The woman smirked. "Uh-huh. And you would be?"

"Lieutenant Terrence Horn. But you can call me Thorn."

"'Thorn', eh? Okay. You must be here to see-- what is THAT?!" she gasped, pointing to Thorn's left shoulder.

Thorn pointed to the furry, blue-whitish, somewhat angular-shaped creature that had scurried up from one of his pockets. "Oh, him? That's CHAD. Wouldn't hurt a mouse...well, he kinda is a mouse, or mouse-ish, I guess," he noted, offering his finger as a perch. The CHAD's titanium filament whiskers twitched slightly as his sensors evaluated the distance before making a quick leap.

The gatekeeper furrowed her brow warily. "Well, I'm not sure 'Commander Lankin's going to like seeing a -- a CHAD, or whatever it is, in her intelligence center."

Thorn just grinned. "Guess I'll have to ask her. I'm supposed to see her or Lieutenant Moaella anyway. They around anywhere?"

"I can take him, Mairella," the clipped, slightly accented woman's voice said behind him. He turned; she was paused there, drinking what smelled like very strong coffee from a large metallic cup. The woman, dressed in matte black clothing with no identifying marks of any kind (save for an intelligence insigniaed comm badge) was attractive though slightly below average in height; her dark auburn hair pulled into a very messy twist, and she looked like she'd had an... interesting night. "I'm Jordan Lankin. You're a day early, Lieutenant Horn. Are you generally overeager or was this just a trick of fate?"

"Heard you were having some problems, ma'am. Figured the sooner I got here, the better. And please, call me 'Thorn'." He paused just moment and glanced to the woman at the desk. "Nice to meet you, Mairella." He curved his hand toward her, and suddenly in it was a tiny miniature white rose. With a wink, he left it on the desk before returning his attention to Lankin.

She beckoned for him to follow her with a slight wave of her hand as she moved through into the security lock. She glanced back at him as she stood in the pod.

"Well come on." The moment he stepped inside, the door behind him closed -- but the one in front of them, into the heart of the intelligence center, didn't open; instead, a large red light flared. There was a long, awkward pause before the woman cocked her head and looked at him. "Do you have an unapproved electronic device somewhere on your--" She stopped as the blue CHAD appeared. "I see."

"Uh, yeah...this here's a little friend of mine I call CHAD, stands for Creatively Hacked Animal-like Design. Made 'im myself." Thorn cast a suspicious glance to the red alarm light. "If, uh, you'd rather he remained unapproved that's okay... just let me know if there's anything that's gonna fry his circuits or anything. Already lost one of his predecessors that way."

Jordan paused a moment, mentally counting as she reminded herself that he was a tech geek -- these people were nuts and, generally speaking, not exactly the most socially aware individuals. She obviously hadn't made her irritation clear and she didn't want to get off on the wrong foot with the person who -- let's face it -- she would be relying on to keep her technologically active.

"Does your little... ah... CHAD? Have surveillance capabilities?" Jordan asked, waving slightly at a man on the other side of the transparent lock. He approached and stood outside the door, taking a 'thinker's pose' as he assessed the situation, clearly mocking the chief field director and her cramped quarters. "Titan," she said, banging on the door. "Just override it. Now." He mimed that he could hear her. "NOW."

The man she called Titan sighed exaggeratedly, and then disappeared from view toward the side wall.

"I could upgrade his firmware for surveillance," Thorn replied. "He's pretty much got all the necessary hardware for it, at least on a rough scale." With a slight turn of his head, he nodded at the CHAD. Hear that, buddy? You might get to be a spy someday." If it registered with the CHAD's basic communication subroutines, the prospect didn't seem to faze it way or the other.

"Right now, it's for the best that the... contraption doesn't," the field officer said. "It'll ensure it makes it through the security measures in one piece. Otherwise..." She glanced around the small space. "It probably would have had an EMS pulse fed through it by now... If you can, I'd recommend turning it off for the moment, at least until Mo' can give it the go ahead," Lankin said, glancing over her shoulder at him. "I don't think any laser arrays will destroy it, but your lot updates the systems so frequently, it's hard to say and not always easy to track which are actual improvements and which are just sugges--" She cut herself off as the doors opened and fresh air leaked into the small lock. "It's about fraking time!" she exclaimed, arm whirling around to smack the man -- Titan -- in the chest with the pad she was carrying, her coffee sloshing dangerously in her mug. "I can hurt you, you know."

Titan glanced over her head at Thorn and grinned broadly. "With her pinkie," he stated, perhaps too seriously, eyes widening.

"I don't even need my damn pinkie," she stated, moving on. "Come on Thorn, let's get you checked into the madhouse."

"No doubt," Thorn agreed, with an amiable nod and wink to the big man.

He followed Jordan and began surveying appreciatively with his trained eyes, absentmindedly prodding the CHAD with the complex sequence of distributed touches required to shut down its systems. A few seconds passed before Lankin's newest officer let out a low whistle.

"Now this is what I call one hell of an Intel center. Modular work environments, self-responding clearance-sensitive displays, triple-redundant class nine detection systems...must've taken the yard boys the better part of six months just optimizing the configuration matrices."

"Oh the SCE boys aren't allowed within a hundred yards of all this," she replied, shaking her head. "I don't need them futzing around with my technology. But I'm glad you appreciate it," she said, "designed the thing myself."

"Shoot, a place like this could have a guy like me geekin'-out for weeks," he chuckled. "Which reminds me, I hear you got some trouble in paradise -- an uppity terminal or something?"

"Get used to that," Jordan said, smirking, "simple technologies have it out for me. I'm quite sure I managed to get a tricorder to flip me off once. It's over here. The 'Error Five' is back." She rolled her eyes. "I dragged the Ops Chief up here about two weeks ago and he swore he cleared it all out. No one else has the problem -- just me. I so much as look at it the Error Five pops back up again."

Thorn nodded slowly in comprehension, squinting his eyes deliberatively. Underneath, he fought to suppress the guffaw that clawed to escape from his throat. In Ops circles, Error Five was known as one of the most ornery -- read, effective -- of a handful of "poltergeist" routines designed with no other purpose than to randomly appear and drive non-Ops people nuts. It was little more than a professional inside joke, and sizing up Lankin's already elevated blood pressure at the mere recollection, Thorn thought it best to keep it that way.

"Ol' Error Five, eh? Hmmm...yeah, that one'll have you cursin' out your own grandma. Mind if I take a look?"

"Oh, please," Jordan said, "have at it. And since you're jumping into things, there's a door sensor over here that's a little slow on the uptake... and a data descriptor that's stuck on Andorian."

"Sensor door? Data descriptor? Heh...hope you can do better than that, 'Commander, or I'm gonna be mighty bored around here."

"Oh, I have a whole list," she replied, smiling devilishly. "You'll rue the day, Terrence Horn, believe me." She grinned broadly, reaching out her hand. "Welcome to the 12th Fleet's Intelligence operation, Lieutenant', we're glad to have you. Mo' will be on duty in two hours -- you can't miss her. Until then, let me or Titan know if you have any questions."

Accepting Lankin's hand, Thorn grinned in kind. "Sure I'll be right at home, ma'am."

"Meet the Master Chief"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Master Chief T'Shani sh'Akledor

Deck Sixteen
Primary Sensor Control

When Captain Elaithin Jii walked into the Primary Sensor Control room on Deck 16, he wasn't really surprised to find nearly every access panel in the room strewn about, and what looked to be about thirty different crewmen running from one place to another. The scene of not-so-organized chaos was one he'd seen repeated many times over in the course of his tour with 'Commander Summers, and in his successive meetings.

Given that the ship was in the middle of a refit, Jii was frankly glad to see actual work going on, though it was getting a little tiring to see the same scene repeated so often.

Finally, one of the crewman noticed the new arrival - or more importantly, the gold braids on his sleeve. "Captain on deck!" the crewman called out.

"As you were," Elaithin said quickly, before the work that was in progress stopped. He didn't feel the need to interrupt just for the sake of his ego, tradition or no. "I'm looking for Master Chief T'Shani, Crewman."

"The Master Chief's right over there, Skipper," the young Bolian answered quickly. "She's the one buried in the magnetic resonance scanner's control console."

"Got it. Thank you, Crewman."

"Of course, sir."

It didn't take the captain too long to spot her. Or, rather, hear her:

"GODS-DAMMIT! Where the FRAK is that FRAKKIN' hydro-spanner I FRAKKIN' wanted FIVE FRAKKIN' MINUTES AGO?!!"

Elaithin had to fight back an open laugh. The....colorful manner in which Chief’s – especially Master Chiefs – expressed themselves was the stuff of Starfleet legend. That, apparently, was a legend that Master Chief T’Shani was doing her best to live up to. The hydro-spanner in question was place right on top of the console. Without a word, he picked it up and held it patiently. It was hard not to notice how quickly the background din of working crewmen died down. Partly it was the Master Chief's curse-laden query (she could swear circles around the Pah Wraiths themselves, by all accounts, but those same accounts held that it meant that she was royally brassed off. Mostly, Jii figured, the crewmen were hanging around just to watch what would...develop.

"NOW," her voice stressed from under the console, as Jii drew closer. An almost too-delicate (though grease-covered) looking hand popped out from under the work bay, fingers snapping insistently.

"Is this what you were looking for, Master Chief?" Jii asked graciously as he lowered the tool. He had to wonder, as well, whether or not she would notice the braids on his wrist when she took it from him.

He was not disappointed in the response.

"About damned time, crewm--" her voice suddenly trailed off. No doubt, Jii thought, she had counted his Captain's braids. And since he was the only person of that rank on the entire ship...

Jii winced at the sudden thud that came from under the console. The distinct, ungraceful sound of skull suddenly meeting durasteel (no doubt happening as the Master Chief had suddenly--involuntarily--sat up under the cramped work bay, in surprise) resonated through the now completely-hushed deck.

Biting her lip to keep from cursing further, Tish slid out from under the console, one hand holding the hydro-spanner Jii had just supplied while the other was rubbing vigorously at what would soon be a good-size lump on her head, just behind her left antenna.

"Captain Ji--" she stopped short, while unceremoniously trying to pick her ass up off of the deck. 'Bajoran, Tish, *Bajoran*. Other-way around,' she mentally chided herself. "Captain *Elaithin*, Sir," she managed to salute--hydro-spanner still in hand, "I, ah...apologize about that, sir. I had no idea you were already--"

The Captain laughed, casually dismissing her awkward apology. "Don’t worry about it. I’ve done my share of refit work. Walk with me, Master Chief?" It sounded like a question, of course, but as it came from the Captain, it was anything but.

"Y-yes, sir," she stood in place as he turned to walk. Quickly, she waved down one of the crewman-turned-spectators, handed her the hydro-spanner, and hurriedly caught up to Elaithin, just as the doors to the access corridor slid open.

As they passed, the Captain noticed some damage to a bulkhead. Inclining his head to indicate it, he posed the question, "What’s the story there, Master Chief?"

"One of the refit teams did not secure their load, Captain," she replied, her professional mien back in place. "Fortunately, there is only minor abrasion of the duraluminum covering; no minor damage. Senior Chief MacRae--our Engineering Systems Specialist--is having a DC team come up here ASAP to replace the panel, sir," she finished, hoping the explanation would pass the Captain's muster. Under the Old Man, such an incident would have been fixed right away, but the Miranda's crew was a bit preoccupied with other, pressing refit matters.

"As long as it gets squared away," Elaithin nodded. "Good to see you’re on top of things, Master Chief. I know we’re mid-refit, but that’s no reason to get sloppy."

"Aye, of course not, sir," she replied, following him into the adjacent corridor. As the doors swished shut behind them, cutting them off from the constant din of construction work, T'Shani was surprised how...quiet it was, out in the corridor. Only the baritone rumble of the ship's air-handlers, and an occasional beep or two from a LCARS panel made their presence known.


As they passed into the corridor, Elaithin found things to be a little more private. "You’ve served as Admiral Murdock’s CMC for a good while now, haven’t you?"

Tish visibly stiffened at the Old Man's invocation. It was true: he was like a father to her. Strike that: He was her father, at least, in her mind. (Nevermind, of course, that the Old Man seemed to have filled that role in quite a few people’s lives.) After the Seltaxis incident, and her clan's "relocation" (or rather, what was left of her clan), it was then-Captain Murdock who had convinced her to enlist in Starfleet; to make something of herself. Through her own hard work - and, as Victor would always say, a "wee nip" of...*influence* from his end - she had made it as a senior Gunner's Mate on the Adirondack. Years later, when Victor was awarded the Miranda as his own flagship, he had requested her services, with the sweetened offer of making her his Chief Gunner's Mate; in charge of all the ship's gunnery, second only to the Chief Tactical Officer, in that respect. And really, how could she say "no"?

That had been seven years ago. Three years ago, after CMC Mahler had retired, Victor had fast-tracked her to the open position. At first, she hadn't wanted it - not by a long-shot. The Gunnery was her family, her crew. Because of their hard work, the Miranda had the highest FAS - Firing Accuracy Score - in the whole fleet. Made Jean-Luc's crew on the Enterprise look like a bunch of first-year Midshipmen at annual Atlas Range Challenge. Now that had made the Old Man proud! But, in the end, Tish had found herself following one of Victor's own antiquated religious maxims: Where the Lord leadeth, there shall I go also.

And really, being the CMC wasn't that bad. Oh, sure, much more paddwork. But she had most of the say about the ship's crew. As far as she was concerned, the ship was the Captain's, but the crew was hers. And NOBODY, not even Admiral Murdock, dared cross her on that; they knew better. On more than one occasion, she had gone toe-to-toe with senior officers who had mistreated their enlisteds. She'd even testified, in a case that still remained Classified.

And then...

And then, the Old Man left.

Just up and left. Tish was pretty sure it was over the Federation Day incident, a couple years back….. She was even more sure that it was Lankin's super-secret-squirrel spy BS that had left the Admiral's flank exposed, leaving an "in" for the Hawks on the Federation Council to pressure him to "retire" from line-duty. If the little kritch had just kept her mouth shut, Murdock probably would have still been the one in the Captain's Ready Room, sipping his single-malt...

And now...this "kid," Elaithin. Tish sighed, internally. Oh, so far first impressions - aside from the incident in Sensor Control, moments before - were going well. He seemed to have the right mix of humor and command-bearing, but Tish just couldn't wrap her antennas around the fact that the Old Man wouldn't be sitting in the Conn, anymore, when she went updeck. It was just...*alien* to her.

“Hailing Master Chief T’Shani,” the Captain was saying, waving a hand in front of her face, his expression bemused.

"Oh, uh...my apologies, Captain," Tish said, blushing slightly, her complexion turning a darker blue as she did so. "Y-yes, sir, I've been Chief of the Ship for three years, now. I was the GMC, before that. Been on the *Miranda* seven - going on eight - years, already. Though, we do have a few keel-owners left, so I'm not the longest-serving onboard, sir."

“So I’ve heard, Chief. Still, I think it’s good that you and Commander Summers are staying aboard. It should make the transition easier on the crew. I wanted to talk to you about-“

"Scuttle is an evil thing"Edit

Cheyenne Summers
K. Jordan Lankin

"So I had an awkward night," Jordan stated the moment the second officer appeared, rounding the corridor toward her office. The intelligence operative was standing against the wall and pushed herself away upon seeing the statuesque brunette.

"Well, good morning, Jordan, nice to see you, too. Me? No, I had a good night with the fam," Cheyenne said, just a little cranky. It was god-awful early in the morning - to her at least - and she needed coffee. Soon. Now. Five minutes ago, whatever.

Jordan scoffed. "Fine. Right. Good morning, Chey, how're you? Pleasantries are always important, never mind I'm having a smidgen of a crisis."

"Oh, crisis. Well, you didn't mention that. C'mon," Cheyenne said, waving Jordan on to the Flight Control office right down the hall. Cheyenne nodded at the yeoman on the front desk - new transfer, couldn't remember the name yet - and ushered Jordan into her office where, thankfully, a large steaming pot of coffee was already waiting, alongside a plate of donuts. Cheyenne poured herself a cup of coffee after sitting down, and grabbed a pastry as well.

"Man, someone wants to see me gain like 500 pounds. This is the third day in a row that there's been some kind of sweet thing waiting for me," she mumbled around a mouthful. "Help yourself."

Jordan made a face as she eyed the plate of doughnuts, her mild hangover causing her stomach to flop over just looking at it. Her nose wrinkled and she shook her head at the idea of mixing this feeling with a sugar rush, and simply did not take the doughnut.

Cheyenne closed her eyes for a moment, letting the combination of sugar and caffeine jump start her brain a little bit. She really needed to work on this getting up earlier thing. It was almost embarrassing.

"Okay, I'm here," she said, opening her eyes and looking at her friend. "Crisis? Really?"

"Hm. Well now let's see. I drank about a bottle of wine, killed someone, and... oh. Right. Realized that my 'date with the captain' was actually a *DATE* with the captain." Jordan's large grey-blue eyes widened theatrically.

Cheyenne stopped mid motion for one second, coffee halfway to her mouth. She stared at Jordan, then the cup reversed it's course and stopped on the table. She opened her mouth, then shut it, then shook her head.

"Where to start... You know, I don't know. You start. Fill me in, from the top."

"Oh. Well. The evening was great. We talked, exchanged pleasantries, I remembered to ask him about his kid -- which I thought you would be proud of me for, you've taught me well," Jordan said, her words taking off at the kind of speed only a well-bred and life-long Massachusetts Yank could quite manage. "Ji -- the cap -- he was being a little bit awkward at times but I figured it was -- I don't even know what I figured, I guess I'm just used to having a certain affect on people and so I completely dismissed it as a signal there was anything afoot. Right?

"So, before we know it we've split almost two bottles of spring wine pretty near the middle, he's telling jokes, I'm laughing my ass off, the restaurant is closing down, so we start to head back to the ship down the promenade and then!" She drew a deep breath, having run out of air, "Then we were ambushed! AMBUSHED!" Her eyes widened. "I'm just... I..." Jordan shook her head, brushing back hair. "Instinct, you know? So, long story short, I got off three shots and one of them ends up dead and Ji -- cap -- he pulls out his captain's card -- so you don't have to bail me out of the brig again and that's pretty damnably handy, gotta say... suddenly, everything's smoothed over, we give brief statements and then walk back to the ship. We pause at my door, which I thought was a little strange but didn't realize why until HE LEANS IN AND KISSES ME!"

Jordan's eyes were the size of saucers as she stared at her friend. Both women were silent for a beat. With her rapid-fire rant now over, Jordan seemed to lose her steam, slumping a little in her chair and pressing a hand over her eyes with a somewhat exasperated sigh.

"I need coffee," she murmured softly.

"You know, it's getting to the point where I almost find it funny that I'm not surprised that the part you get hung up on is the kiss, not the violence. So, in deference to you, we'll come back to that little tidbit later." Cheyenne shook her head again, then took a sip of coffee. "How was it?" she said with a smirk.

Jordan was silent for a moment as though she'd completely forgotten to even think about that particular aspect of her evening. Her forehead creased.

"How was it?" Jordan repeated. She looked down into lap. "Iswahgud," she mumbled, blushing a little high on her cheeks before she managed to get her ire back, and her head snapped up again, fiercely. "I don't see how that's at all relevant. I go into this thinking it's one thing and then he goes into it thinking that it's another -- changing the game at the end, by the way -- and I can't figure out who had the bigger disadvantage! What do you think? Is a 'first date' better or worse if you don't know it's happening?"

"*First* date?" Cheyenne said. "Re-heally?" She put her coffee down and leaned back in her chair, lacing her fingers behind her head as she stretched out her full frame. Carefully. No repeats of the Incident, as she thought of it. How embarrassing. "So you're going to go out again?"

"Again? I -- Can we keep it to the matter at hand?" Jordan demanded, making a focusing gesture. "It was my first date in... an embarrassingly long time... and I blew it! I didn't go through the nervous first-date jitters, didn't get all dolled up or do anything special with my hair or angst over what I was going to wear. I talked about nonsense almost nonstop. And I was hardly in first-date presentation mode, you know -- sensoring my personality and all of that. And..." She sighed deeply. "Help. I need advice. I don't know what I'm doing."

"Look, you may not have been in 'first-date presentation mode' - whatever the hell that is - but what does it matter? You had a good time, right?" Cheyenne kept going, not waiting for any answer that Jordan might have even wanted to give. "He obviously had a good time, regardless of the... extra-curriculars... you got into, otherwise he probably wouldn't have kissed you. If you ask me, you're lucky to skip over all that crap! So what's the problem here?" She held her hands out beside her, shrugging her shoulders.

"The problem? The problem, Cheyenne, is... it boils... the problem is that he is the CAPTAIN. And... that's just... don't I have enough rumors tagged to my name already? And then, the first day he's on board..." Jordan closed her eyes and covered them with a hand. "And all those snarky comments I made about his ass..."

"Well... Okay, you have a point there. He is indeed the Captain. No gettin' around that one." Cheyenne held up one hand and marked off the first finger, counting up Jordan's protests. "Rumors? Who gives a shit about rumors, Jordan? Once again, since you've asked for my ever-so-humble opinion, it only adds to your reputation. Fightin' with the XO, dating the captain, assaulting the CMO... What is that crazy intel officer going to do next? Keeps everyone on their toes, if nothing else." She put her hands down and dropped her chair to all fours, leaning forward. "Don't let your hang-ups keep you from enjoying this, Jordan. It doesn't have to go perfectly or by the book. Just relax. If there's a second date, awesome! Just remember to give me all the details! Leave the rank thing at the door."

"You're right," she agreed, nodding, "I know you're right. But... do you know the worst part about it? I bet you anything that he's strutting around without a care, completely ignorant of any of this, just perfectly fine and, if anything, proud-as-punch about it all. He's sure as hell not sitting there with Joral frakin' Anton analysing every little moment." Jordan stood. "Nearly 400 years and still -- the Carrie Bradshaw affect. Thanks for listening. I'm going to go eat something bad for me."

"That's my job," Cheyenne replied.

"And if he says anything about me, you sure as hell better let me know."

Cheyenne grimaced. "Yeah, about that..." She scratched the back of her neck at her hairline. "I forgot to tell you something. During my meeting with him, he kinda... Well, he kinda did ask about you. Not anything specific, just if you were single, things like that. You were the topic of conversation for a couple of minutes. I would've told you earlier," she continued in a rush, holding up her hands in a placating manner, "but it completely slipped my mind. I was in a hurry to get finished and go home, see Richard and the kids, and I made an ass out myself anyway during the meeting..."

Jordan stared at her blankly for a moment, and then shook her head.

"To think. You could have spared both of us this conversation by taking one minute to say, 'oh, by the way, the captain asked me something weird today...' I would have known the context and..." Jordan waved her hand through the air. "Never mind. Done is done. But--" she leveled a sharp index finger Cheyenne's way-- "if you do it again? I'll find some way to avenge myself, I'm sure."

"Quakin' in my boots here," Cheyenne shot back at her, picking up her coffee cup again.

"As well you should be!" Jordan said, then grinned. "Alright. I'll see you later then."

As she exited her friend's office, she saw a pair of crewmen glance at her and then start whispering back and forth as they disappeared the other direction down the hall. Jordan sighed, closing her eyes a moment as she moved toward the nearest turbolift.

Hopefully, she thought, they were gossiping about her marksmanship or shady past and not because some enterprising little ensign had seen something in the senior staff hallway. Sometimes, a little gossiping could make a world of difference (if Cheyenne had just said something, for instance, Jordan might have avoided this whole thing in the first place) but most of the time -- scuttle was an evil thing indeed.

"Showdown at the Desperado's Den"Edit

Lieutenant Adan Kador, Chief of Security
Lieutenant Nathan Everett, Chief Tactical Officer

"Desperado's Den" Steakhouse - Starbase 616

They'd spent a considerable time searching the starbase far and wide for a place suitable for the newly created ceremony of 'departure drinks' within the Security department. They tried the Betazoid cafe, the Bajoran Restraunt, the Klingon Bistro, the Bolian bar...

But of them all, this was probably the place Adan could relax in most.

The Desperado's Den was really just one outlet of a chain with a few hundred shops. It was a steakhouse and bar in one... original and hard to find drinks coupled with customary favs, local flavors, and some of the best Terran food anyone could possibly want. The music was a little... or rather a lot... loud for his tastes, and the other patrons were a bit boisterous, but hell they had a whole cruise for quiet and subdued. You only lived once in life, so he was told. Might as well enjoy it, right?

Besides... watching a young lady get chucked by the steely mechanical bull in the middle of a sand court made him want to see a few of his people trying to ride it after a couple of drinks. Instant memories in the making. They could use a few priceless photos to spruce up the office space with anywho.

"So what do you think, Crewman?"

"Beer's good sir. I suggest the Red Ale though..." Crewman Scott McCoy took another swig.

Adan chuckled. "Maybe tonight, I didn't take an inoculation yet, and I'd rather not get carried into sickbay on a stretcher before the ship even leaves dock. Come on, let's get back and let everyone else know."

They'd just stood up from their stools, hadn't even had time to turn around yet when from somewhere in the back there was the 'smack' of skin on flesh impact. A slap judging from the sound, and shortly following it the stunned and offended gasp of a young woman.

Both security officers turned around to find a waitress staring incredulously at a group of men, likely as lost as they were in determining who was responsible. One face stood out to Scott however, and instantly the link of guilt was established in his mind. "Hatfield! You've done it now, I'm hauling your ass in for sexual assault!"

Adan wondered idly how many times the word 'ass' would rise up in relation to this circumstance.

Ensign Peter Hatfield looked like he'd just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Which wasn't terribly far from the truth.

"What?" he stammered nervously, as he tended to do. "I'm--I didn't--that wasn't, I mean...I didn't do it!" he finally blurted out.

Hatfield's fellow tactical officers and crewmen all eyed McCoy warily, ready to defend Hatfield if the security goon tried anything.

Adan's eyes scanned the group. He could take two, 'maybe' three of them given that he had the advantage of standing while they were sitting. Maybe McCoy could take another one or two... but that still left one or two officers unaccounted for. The numbers were definitely not in their favor.

That didn't stop McCoy on the other hand. "Don't give me that crap Hatfield! Next before you know it you're going to be telling me you didn't grope my sister back at Alpha Centauri!"

By now the eyes of the room were on them, which was not good. "Ma'am, did you see who hit you?"

"If I saw it, they'd have one of these salad forks in their eye!" The angry waitress grabbed an example fork and gestured menacingly. "I will 'not' be sexually assaulted!"

"I don't think that'll be necessary ma'am. We'll deal with it, I will need your statement later, but for now..."

The woman haroomfed... not only did she endure the embarrassment of such an attack in plain view of scores of customers (some of whom likely thought they could now get away with doing the same thing), but it was going to be brushed under the Starfleet rug.

"So..." the Stagnorian turned back to the Tactical Officers. "Is whoever hit that woman going to confess and come with us, or do we all get a one-way trip back to the ship?"

McCoy and his fellows all turned to stare at Hatfield, who looked like he just wanted to disappear from sight. He was just an analyst; he hated conflict of any kind. "I swear, it wasn't me! I would never do something like that!"

"Yeah, man, I was watching Petey the whole time," admitted a gold-clad crewman seated across from Hatfield. "He didn't slap anyone." The crewman smirked and jokingly elbowed another tactical officer sitting beside him. "Like he'd have the guts to do anything like that."

Hatfield glared up at McCoy. "You shut the hell up, McCoy. You've been a pain in my ass since the Academy. It's not my fault you choked on your entrance exam and wound up working with the mouth-breathers!" He sat up a little straighter now, having recovered his nerve quickly.

"And for the record, I didn't grope your sister at Alpha Centauri." The young tactical officer lifted his beer to his lips, draining what remained in one long (and only somewhat shaky) gulp. "It was Proxima Centauri. And she loved every second of it."

"Not as much as your cousin enjoyed sleeping with a 'real man' when I banged her on your kitchen table you incestuous little prick..."

"Allright, enough!" Adan grabbed his subordinate's arm and pulled him back. "Someone slapped her, now I'm giving one last warning. We either solve it here and 'that' person takes his punishment, or I haul 'everyone' here to the brig and we sort it out that way. What's it going to be?"

Half of the goldshirts had started to get out of their seats when McCoy took a step towards Hatfield, but froze when Adan finally spoke up again. The two parties eyed each other warily, and just as Adan started to lose his patience, another voice spoke up.

"Is there a problem here, Lieutenant?" asked Nathan Everett, parting the sea of redshirts as he joined Adan. He looked from the Security Chief to the party of Tactical Officers, all of whom quickly sank back into their seats at the sight of their department chief, who did not look very happy. This little excursion had been Ensign Hatfield's idea, who figured it would be a good opportunity for them to get to know their new boss, and vice versa. Nathan had been a little late getting to the place (who'd have thought running an entire department would involve so much paperwork?), and the last thing he'd expected to see when he arrived was his people practically surrounded by a group of rather hostile-looking security guards.

Adan didn't know Nathan, hadn't had a chance to meet his tactical counterpart yet, but he was grateful for the chief's intervention here. Last thing anyone needed was a lot of commotion. "Actually there is. A waitress complained that one of these men slapped her, and as of yet nobody's stepped forward. I'd rather not have to pull them 'all' in for questioning, but unfortunately that might end up being what happens."

Nathan frowned and looked his men over. "Alright, boys, y'all heard the, uh..." He looked over at Adan and hesitated when he saw that the Security Chief was of a species he'd never seen before. "Y'all heard the man. Whichever one of you it was who assaulted this lovely lady, you'd best step up now. Otherwise Ah'm gonna have to turn all y'all over to these boys, and Ah reckon they ain't gonna be nearly as forgivin' as Ah am." He pointed a thumb over his shoulder at the security officers, most of whom grinned menacingly as he did so.

His officers all looked like they'd rather spend an evening with a pair of Klingons during one of their mating rituals, but finally an enlisted man slowly rose to his feet. "It was me, LT," the crewman admitted, his face almost as red as Adan's uniform. "I'm sorry, I guess I just had a few too many and got caught up in the excitement..."

Nathan leveled a glare at the crewman. "Right. Crewman, you stay right where you are. The rest of you, back to the ship!" He raised a hand to forestall the groans. "Ah don't wanna hear it! Engineerin's backed up with other work, so we've gotta finish the tactical refits ourselves. So get yer asses back onboard and get some sleep. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

He watched as the group reluctantly got up from their table and made their way to the exit, leaving some very generous tips behind as they went. Apparently they hoped the extra gratuity would make up for their buddy's freshness.

Nathan nodded to Adan and then stepped over to the aggrieved waitress. "Ah apologize for mah man's behavior, miss, and Ah promise he'll be punished accordingly. If there's anything else Ah can do to make it up to you," he added with a charming smile, "you just let me know."

"God, he works fast," Hatfield muttered to one of his buddies as they shuffled out of the bar.

"Oh... ummm..." The waitress smiled, her eyes glistening as she idly twirled a strand of her hair with her fingers. When your entire occupation was centered around serving other people, it was a rarity more valuable than any gratuity to be treated, well, human. She couldn't help but laugh in that almost nervous, awed manner ladies occasionally did around handsome men. "I... well I don't want to be a bother, Lieutenant."

Adan made it understood to McCoy in no uncertain terms that his career was dependant on the crewman being escorted back to the ship. He wasn't naive enough to think the offended woman would still press charges, but it was best to get the man back to the ship, and confine him to his quarters for a day or so.

When Nate was available again, Adan figured he'd better take the opportunity to say something. "Thanks for your help Lieutenant, that could've gotten out of hand quickly."

Nathan bid the young woman good night and turned to Adan as she got back to her work. "Not at all, Lieutenant," he replied. "Ah'm just glad Ah got here before it did." He looked towards the exit and watched as McCoy escorted the offending crewman out of the bar.

"Seems yer man there's got some history with one of mine," he observed, turning to face Adan again. "He gonna be a problem?"

"Nah, I made it clear his career is based on getting your guy to the brig without further incident." Adan summed up, crossing his arms. "Don't worry, we'll probably just let him spend the night to let him know we mean business, and then he's all yours again." He held out his hand. "Adan Kador by the way, chief of security."

Nathan nodded and shook his counterpart's hand. "Nathan Everett, Tactical Chief. In case you couldn't tell before," he added with a smile. "And you can feel free to hold on to him a little longer. Ah don't care if it was an accident, Ah won't allow that kinda behavior in mah department."

"A man who runs a tight ship." Adan nodded approvingly. "At least you're not the stereotypical 'compensating' guy." It was nice to see someone with at least half a brain and possibly more running the big guns instead of a dumb, cowardly half-wit taking solace behind a ship's armaments. "Looks like our departments will be working a lot together, I look forward to it."

"Likewise," Nathan responded with a quick nod. He glanced toward the exit at the last few gold-clad stragglers, and then back into the crowd as the redshirts dispersed, and grinned. "Let's just hope we can keep 'em all from killin' each other."

"Family-Sponsored Stalker"Edit

Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer, USS Miranda
Petty Officer Second Class Kazra, Science Enlisted Personnel, USS Miranda, npc
Ensign Johnathan Pardanko, Operations Officer, npc
Suzanna McAlister, civilian, PCC

Science Department, USS Miranda

"What do you mean 'Gazer at Stars'?"

"That's the name of the Science Head, sir. He's Kzinti, I think," replied the Petty Officer.

Jacen seemed shocked, "I can't believe it. I've been a follower of his work since I came across some of it in the Academy. Do you know when he'll be here?"

Kazra thought for a moment, "Not sure, sir." She tapped away at her terminal for some information, "There's no time given, but he should be here before the refit is over."

"Then I better get my med and psych reviews done."

The Saurian smiled as much as she could, "That would be wise, sir. Especially if the CMO has to come get you. From what I understand, sir, he's a bit...unique. Scuttle has it that our esteemed Head of Intel took him down with a Neck Pinch."

Jacen smiled, "Well then, the ACMO is my rommie, so maybe I can ask him to do the Med Eval. Otherwise, I think I can put up with this CMO's...uniqueness. Though I don't know how to do a Neck Pinch."

The intercom beeped, "Bridge to Ensign McAlister."

Jacen tapped his badge, "Ensign McAlister here."

"You have a communique from Earth, Ensign."

He looked at Kazra, "Can I take it in here?"

"Sure, sir. There's a terminal in the last office room on the left, Terminal Delta-64-7Beta."

"Did you get that bridge?"

"Yes, Ensign. Communique is now waiting for you. Bridge out"

Jacen started to walk away, "Thank you for your help Petty Officer. I'll be seein' you 'round."

"Thank you, sir. Hope the talk is a good one."

"Me too."

Jacen walked into the office and activated the terminal and was greeted by someone he wasn't too interested in seeing, Ensign Johnathan Pardanko, an Operations Officer he'd been seeing back on Earth, before he left. "Hello Johnathan," he said in a flat tone.

"Hey Jac! It's good to see you. I was wanting to see you before you left Earth, but you left in such a hurry. Thankfully, your mom let me know where you were."

Jacen silently felt the Fire of Anger grow in his gut. He left John back on Earth for a good reason, "John, I told you I was leaving. The same night I told you that I wasn't interested in seeing you again."

The redshirt on the other end almost looked hurt, almost, "Jac, I know you don't and didn't mean that. We have a good thing."

"Had. Had a good thing. You and I had a good thing with no strings and no expectations. But then you went and fell for me and wanted more. I'm not interested in that. You know and knew that getting into it with me." Jacen grew more frustrated and wanted to just reach into the terminal and beat the hell out of the idiot on the other end.

"But I love you and you love me."

"No. I don't. Get that through your Gods damned thick ass titanium skull!" Jacen was standing by now, "I was with you for what is in your pants, not for what is in your chest. And I am truly sorry you no longer understand that, I am. But I want nothing more from you. I told you that from the start. I told you that that last night in San Francisco. And I am telling you that now, over sub-space. I'm on the Miranda now and you are on Earth. Now leave me the hell alone before I get them Caitians in San Francisco to come claw some damn sense into you."

Jacen cut the connection before John could respond. He sat back down and tried to calm down, but felt that he should do something else before that happened, "Computer, establish sub-space connection to Baltimore, Earth. Connection number is 10114436256540."

After a few minutes, Jacen's mother answered, "Jacen! Oh, dear, how are you? Is the Miranda nice?"

Jacen sighed, "Yes Mother, the ship is lovely. I'm good. But I'm calling to see why you gave Johnathan Pardanko my new contact information. I didn't tell him where I was going for a reason. He's nuts!"

Suzanna McAlister just sighed, "But honey, he's a good man. You need to settle down and have a family."

"Why? Why do I need family? Why do I need to settle down? We've had this talk before and I'm not interested in all that crap right now. Don't take his calls and stop giving him ways to find me. I ain't wantin' him, he's ain't right in the head."

"Jacen Tobias McAlister!" Full name from your mother was never good and both knew it, "I have raised you better than that. You know how to speak proper English and I expect that from you."

Jacen waved her off, "Ok, if you say so. But I expect you to respect my choices in life and you can't seem to do that. I don't want a relationship right now."

She just ignored him, "But you are thirty. It is time to settle down."

"I'm thirty and really just starting out. I have the right to live as I see fit and I see fit to live from one one night stand to the next. If one of the guys I mess with turns my life around, based on your standards, and I want more, be it from him or the next one, then so be it." He sighed again, "Look, Ma, I'm just living for the moment right now and I'm happy with that. Why can't you be happy for me for that?"

"Because I know how much love can make you happy."

"Well what about the love for myself. Isn't that good enough for now?"

"I don't know, baby. I don't. I just want you to be happy. And I know you are, I do. But I see you at thirty and alone." Her face had fallen and taken the 'Mother Face' that could make duranium feel guilty. "I just want you to find someone to make you happy for life."

He relented a bit, not wanting to make her cry, "Alright. I get it. But I'm not alone and I'm good for now. Hell, maybe the Gods will finally hear you and send someone my way. But for now, stop being a yenta."

"OK, for now. But if your not with a man by the time your forty, I reserve the right to find one for you."

He smiled, "Well, seeing that I've got ten years, I'll agree."

"Good," she returned the smile, "Now I have to go. Tobin is home and in need of a mom cooked meal."

"Be well, mom. Give Tobin my love and I'll call you as soon as I can. I love you, you old troublemaker."

She laughed at the nickname, "I love you too. Have fun on your tour!" She then cut the connection, otherwise they'd just talk for hours.

Jacen just smiled at his mother. For all her good sides, she was still a mother concerned for her child and would do what she could to make him happy. He got up and moved out into the main area and headed out, waving to Kazra as he passed her. He headed off to Medical before making an appointment for his Psych Eval.

He just grinned at the thought. If it wasn't Medical doctors that irked him, it was Mental doc's that just scared him. Should be fun either way...he hoped.

"Testing For Dominance"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Lieutenant Gazer at Stars, Chief Science Officer

Main Bridge – Deck One

There is a common Kzinti proverb that if you want something done right - and you lack trained slaves for the task - you had better do it yourself. The hairless monkey Ops had sent to finish the circuitry on the bridge's Science console had proved to be less than efficient, and with a low and steady growl and a twitch of his whiskers Gazer at Stars had made it known that her services in this installation would no longer be required. The completion of the bridge station was one of at least a dozen things Gazer had on his 'to do' list, and with most of his staff yet to receive their billet on the Miranda there was no-one left to delegate the work to. Now, lying painfully on his curved spine, the Kzinti scientist' upper torso was jammed in the rats nest of conduit and circuitry along the bridge's port bulkhead, with only his hind-quarters and long, rat-like tail visible and a strong acrid smell of singed fur filling the command deck.

As monotonous as the installation was, Gazer was somewhat grateful for the reprieve from some of his more unpleasant responsibilities. Meetings with Ops had to be made around meetings with Engineering, meetings with scientific specialists, online conferences with management at Starfleet Sciences, the drones at Daystrom, colleagues at the Vulcan Science Institute, the Trill Science Institute, the Tellarite Science Institute... it was looking like promotion was more of a sentence than an opportunity. Still, the Miranda had things the scientist would have given parts of his hide to possess - lab resources beyond his wildest dreams and a sensor dish the size of a small building that made his tail whip noisily along the deck plating.


Captain Elaithin Jii wasn’t watching where he was going. Truthfully, as a CO, he’d somewhat gotten used to other people taking themselves out of his way. He barely even noticed it any more.

What occupied his attention at this present time, however, was the latest report from Engineering on the slipstream drive. Now that Miranda’s engineering teams were fully engaged on the matter, a great deal more progress was being made. The report was full of theoretical data and technical specifications that the engineer Ensign Elaithin had been found fascinating.

As such, as he navigated the bridge to his ready room, he was most especially not paying attention to the deck plating.

At least, not until he stepped on something, and heard a very loud – and very feline – screech come from under the nearby science console.

"AARRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

A massive surge of adrenaline surged from within Gazer of Stars, and the instinct to defend himself from his attacker took over his reason. As pure reflex he writhed to try and bring his upper claws and fangs to bear, succeeding in only becoming tangled in the hair-like micro-conduit under the workstation. Dozens of twenty-four volt supply-lines sparked as they were severed, landing on the Kzinti's fur and quickly coming to a smoulder.

>THUNK<

>FZZZZZZZZZTTTT Z' Z' Z' Z' Z' Z' <

" ```;;;:'``,`,'``^;,`' !!! ", Gazer bellowed in the Hero's tongue, sending a high-pitched scream across the bridge and bringing the area to a shocked silence as it ceased ringing. When he finally freed-himself from the crawlspace with claws and fangs exposed, thin wisps of black smoke wafted about his head. He stretched his spine to its fullest and bristled what was left of his fur to look down at the man who stood before him. Through his rage-fogged senses, he noticed something familiar that bore significance about his prey. The scientist took a half-dozen haggard breaths before the detail registered.

"Grhaar.... four braids", he growled as flecks of foam gathered near the corners of his mouth. "You havr... hrrrrrr.... four braids."

Elaithin’s own gaze flickered to the large Kzinti’s wrists. “That’s pretty typical for a ship’s Captain,” he said, showing no apology – or more importantly in this situation, weakness – for his own actions. Inwardly, he was wincing. He owed the Lieutenant an apology, but only once the other had apologized. “And I don’t believe we’ve met. Who are you, Lieutenant, and why are you dismantling the science console on my bridge?”

"Four...braids...hummm.... Captain... yes...", Gazer managed slowly as his hyper-rage ebbed. The urge to strike was still upon him, and if the Bajoran had taken so much as a single step back the Kzinti would have surely clawed him. The sight of one unafraid, assuming an equality with a Kzin however, quelled his strike instinct and allowed reason to once more posses his mind. He retracted his claws as his fur and parasol-like ears flattened.

Gazer's green eyes glazed over as he *saw* Elaithin Jii for what he was, not what his hide made him seem. The 'aura' of the man, for lack of a better word, was 'tattered' like any other native of Bajor that had endured the Cardassian occupation, but denser at the core than those of the sentient monkeys of Earth for surviving such suffering. Holes near the center told that he was a parent who gave much to his cubs, but it was the aura's luminosity that impressed the Kzinti - it was rare even amongst his own people, and spoke of an undeniable courage. Wisdom, on the other hand...

"I am Gazer of Stars", the scientist managed at last, focusing once more on Elaithin. "The chief scientist - and this is an upgrade, not a dismantlement." He offered no further explanation, and his bruised tail whisked back and fourth as he studied his new commander. "Why did you assault me?"

“Assault’s a strong word for it, Mr. Gazer,” the captain responded, thankful he’d dealt with plenty of Tellarites in his career. Attitude-wise, they weren’t too dissimilar from Kzinti, really. “Frankly, your tail was in the way.”

"In the....." The Kzinti's ears twitched and he almost literally bit back his temper. Four stripes, he reminded himself. Probably unwise to gut him on the first voyage. "I suppose I made an assumption that the gibbon in command had more depth perception."

“Wrong primate, but you’ve got the right idea, I suppose,” he observed nonchalantly. “Still, in the future, remember to report in before you start upgrading equipment, Lieutenant. Am I clear?”

Gazer of Stars looked at Elaithin Jii in complete disbelief - not only was the Bajoran not intimidated by his aggressive posturing, he was actually attempting to assume the wronged party in the argument. The position was... refreshing, almost Kzin-like. "No", he growled. "But I suspect it's going to be, sooner than I'd like."

Elaithin fought back a laugh, and issued the order to make their discussion a bit more private than all the ears the bridge had. “Walk with me, Lieutenant.”

The Kzinti nodded, then seemed to almost fold in upon himself. Gazer's upper spine curved down so severely that his head hung down below his shoulders that he actually had to look up at the Bajoran to address him. "Lead on... Captain", he said quietly, gesturing towards Elaithin's ready room with a large, furry paw.

The doors to the small office that was directly adjacent to the bridge closed shut behind Gazer, even as the Captain slid smoothly into his seat. Gazer watched the oddity of the Bajoran’s body language as the other seemed to relax significantly. Either he didn’t think of Gazer as any sort of threat to him.. or he was confident in his ability to deal with it if he was. Surprisingly, Gazer was not all that certain as to which was correct.

“So,” the Captain began, his tone frank. “Just why the hell are you in Starfleet, Lieutenant?”

"It has nothing to do with the Fanged God's underworld, I assure you Captain", Gazer rumbled, ill-at-ease in the small confined space. "I am... devoted to the primary, and most noble goal of Starfleet - exploration and discovery. Starfleet provides the best scientific opportunities for discovery of the Fanged God's creations, and it is always better to hunt one's thruths than wait for sheer providence to bring them to one's lair. Naturally, I'll expect your full co-operation when these opportunities arise."

"As long as the situation permits," Elaithin granted. "That is one of the primary missions of this ship." There was an unspoken question in the air, however.

"Excellent", the Scientist purred. "Then we'll have no problems."

"I ask again," the Captain continued, "Why Starfleet? Kzinti are not exactly known for their abilities to interact smoothly with other species. With your academic credentials, you could probably get the funding to pursue whatever research you wished with the Daystrom Institute or any of a dozen other high-profile research organizations."

"Perhaps", Gazer agreed.

"So that takes us back to the question," the Bajoran said with a determination to stay on-point that Gazer could not help but find admirable. "Why. Starfleet."

The Kzinti was silent for a moment, the only sound coming from him being the constant swish of his tail on the office's carpeting. A number of times Jii saw the felinoid's maw open as if to speak, only to be silenced by some instinct that overruled his reason. "It's... difficult for a Hero to admit... a weakness", he growled at last. "You'll note from my records that I am a telepath, yes?"

“The fact came up once or twice,” Elaithin conceded with a small gleam to his eyes. “It’s not exactly a common trait among your people, is it?”

"Hmmm... Hero telepaths are made, not born. The condition is not natural to our species." Gazer's tail was now motionless, and his parasol-like ears were flattened against his large, shaggy head as he fought the revulsion of having to confess to an alien. "They are made by forcing an addictive substance to cubs once they are weaned. Should they retain their sanity from constant ingestion of the compound, they develop formidable telepathic skills."

The senior officer’s gaze flattened as Gazer continued his description, and he recognized the Captain’s anger for what it was. “Continue,” the other said simply.

"Hero Telepathy... differs from anything else I've encountered amongst other species in the Alpha or Beta Quadrants", the scientist continued, biting back the acrid bile rising from his liver. "It is based more on instinct, rather than reason, and while relatively stronger than most other races our skills are wilder... more primal in nature. Being in Starfleet allows me access to the medicines that curb my telepathic abilities, dampening my TP receptors and securing a life worth living. Now, being amongst individuals of a more disciplined, military mind-set is considerably more bearable than being amongst your petty, ego-centric civilian population. Had I remained with the scientific community at Daystrom..." Gazer shrugged his thin shoulders. "I believe Federation authorities frown on homicides, and I have spent enough decades in prisons."

“And yet,” Elaithin said thoughtfully. “That still doesn’t exactly settle the question of why you’re in Starfleet, now does it, Lieutenant?”

Gazer leaped forward and sunk his foreclaws into the soft acrylic of Jii's desk. "BECAUSE I HAVE NO OTHER PLACE TO GO!", the Kzinti howled. "I will not be a slave amongst my own people, and I will not live semi-comatose amongst yours! Serving in the fleet provides me a coherent, honorable life. Is that so hard to understand?"

And then the Captain did something Gazer had not expected.

He smiled.

“Not at all, Lieutenant,” he said, and extended a hand. “I just had to be sure. Welcome aboard the Miranda.”

Surprising himself, Gazer took it.

"The Dead Walk"Edit

Amedea Sinistrari
Jamus Jaxom

Some Corridor

Jamus, busy as usual, had a tool kit slung over one shoulder and his arms full of a box of supplies for a job in a nearby jeffries tube. He was in a hurry and walking at a faster pace than usual.

Amedea had gotten a commchime from one of the security ensigns. In an attempt to lose some of his 'greenity', he'd over exerted himself in the gymnasium and sickbay wasn't going to let him go in time for his shift.

With a very full belly and only a beer that barely left so much as a muzzy, Amedea let the department know she was going to fill in a double shift and hurried off to go.

As old habit, she tore through the corridors as if the Devil Himself was at her back swinging his riding crop.

Having just wallbounced to avoid a passing janitor, she took the corner too quick and slammed into a warm body hard, sending sketchbook and pencils flying.

Jamus never knew what hit him. All he knew now was he was on his behind in a slight daze and his tools and parts were scattered all over the deck. He shook it off and started collecting his things.

Recovering fast as all Mortemondeans had since hard lessons in blood learned was that to stay down was to die, she started to get up and help up the guy she unintentionally walloped, but froze, feeling a numbness she'd not felt in years.

'I saw you die....', echoed in her mind as she looked down on one who looked like her long lost Highlander had he not been scarred by the fires.

"Well I thought I was made of sterner stuff... I mean, we only bumped into each other," Jamus looked up at the woman with a quizzical look at the stud in her forehead. 'That's a very odd place for a piece of jewelery,' he thought.

She didn't look quite right to Jamus all of a sudden. It was if she'd seen a ghost. "Are you all right then?"

The voice was close, but not quite. The timbre was there, but not that grizzly bear rhasp that was fairly common for where his people survived. It was enough to pull Amedea out of her head and back into the here.

"I'm sorry.", she said as she helped him gather up his things while sorting what little of hers got mixed in, "I should've looked better where I was running...and....you look a lot like someone who was important to me in another lifetime."

"I'm sure I'm to blame as well," Jamus was already neatly putting things back into order in the carton he was carrying. "I should have been watching where I was going as well." He looked up at her again, "Uhm.. if you don't mind me asking, doesn't that thing in your forehead... hurt?" He suddenly felt his face flush and quickly added, "Of course, if it's none of my business you don't have to say. I've just... never seen jewelry like that before."

No one had really asked such a question from the Federation end of things, usually just accepting it silently. "You'll only see it on Mortemondeans. It's a..not sure of the words but it's a symbol to identify those who made the Choice. Up until the moment it's bolted in, everything of your life is sealed off, not to be brought to the light of day again. Hurt like a summa even when drunk enough to not feel much else when it went in, and I'm still surprised I managed to past my first batch of tests at the Academy since not only did I have both eyes blackened and bloody, but I kept staring at it like a zit on the nose.", she explained, her earlier surprise pushed away within and back to what passed for normal for her.

Jamus nodded in acceptance. "I see. Well, that's one of the perks of serving Starfleet eh?" he cracked an easy smile, "You get to me people from 'every'where." He closed up his carton and stood up. "Nice to meet you then. I'm Jamus Jaxom, the chief engineer."

"Amedea Sinistrari," she said, his smile infectious enough to get one breaking out on her lips as she gathered up her sketchbook, "Just one of many Security schlebs." Not sure of Trill custom, she offered her hand to him.

Jamus shook her hand, "Ah, there's no schlebs on this this ship I'd wager. We've all got something to give or we wouldn't be here in the first place."

She briefly seemed to look within herself before answering, "I think my kind's definition of the word is different. A cameraderie term denoting one is like the others around. Since everyone I've seen so far is at core good, I was meaning I'm at least equal to them in the lineup," she said with a smile.

Jamus digested that with a silent 'ahh' forming on his lips. "All righty then, we'll all be schelbs together then," he replied with a smile forming on his own lips.

Her smile turned a bit sheepish, "Biggest problem with our language is the translating. First time the Universal Translators tried to analyze it, it flaked and went into a screetch. At least that's mostly been taken care of other than the what did it just say that pops up from time to time."

Jamus nodded once more. "Still, it doesn't seem as bad as the Tamarians. They speak only in metaphors. If you don't know their culture's history somewhat intimately, well, basically you're screwed. The UT can translate the words but not their meaning. We ran across them on my last ship. It was a rather bizarre experience."

"We had a discussion on them at the Academy during a faculty meeting.", Amedea said, "Our First Contact specialist said he was happy he missed out on the posting that first met them since he was sure he'd've gone..I think the word's loopy over it."

The comm chimed for her, the Ensign she'd originally headed to replace had been released and was off on his shift so she wasn't needed. Amedea chuckled making a 'what can ya do' guesture. "Well, mind if I tag along wherever you're going since I'm offshift with nothing to do. I can hand you tools or something."

Jamus blinked twice. Had he really heard that? Someone actually wanted to help that wasn't a member of his staff? "Well, if you don't think it will bore you to tears. I was heading to the lower decks to run a diagnostic on the ventral shield generator and calibrate the tractor beam emitter."

"While I didn't have the smarts for Engineering, I still find it interesting to watch.", she admitted, "And I did take the bare bones basics course so I know what the common tools are and when something's out of my range to get an expert. I'd be happy to help you as I can."

"All righty then, let's go." Jamus started off down the corridor towards the turbolift.

With sketchbook stowed along her waistline, Amedea followed. She knew the approximate deck they had to go to, just not the specific.

In the lift, Jamus finally realized what she was carrying. "I see you like to draw?"

"Been doing it since I was a kid. My parents were discussing sending me off to art school but I never went. The big war happened instead. But wierd as it sounds, during all that, I still managed to draw whether it was in dirt, sand, on paper or walls.", she said with a warm smile, "Once I have an image in head, I'm good to go with it."

Jamus nodded in understanding. "Nice. I paint now and then when I have time. Nothing too spectacular, simple things really. I guess you could say I'm still learning." He'd been 'learning' for the better part of six years. Practice made perfect or so the saying went. Jamus practiced a lot when time allowed.

"You need pointers, just let me know.", she said with a smile, "We can even start with fleshing out stick figures."

"Aye, sounds good to me."

That made her smile warmly. Like teaching but not quite as far as she was concerned.

The two entered a lift. As it started its descent to the lowest deck Jamus explained his illustrating weakness with a furrowed brow, "Figures I can do fairly well. Faces I can't seem to make look right."

"Faces are harder.", she agreed, "What worked with me was just looking at how people look and taking a lot of time. Still hit quite a few bumps. Noses and lips were my stumbling block for what seemed like forever. But we'll get you going easy when you're up for it."

'ding' The pair arrived at the very bottom of the ship. They stepped out of the lift and headed astern. "That shield generator should be down here," Jamus explained as he walked, "Watching people, makes sense," he said continuing their conversation about painting people. "I don't a lot of time to sit and watch. Always seems to be something that needs fixin' or tweakin'."

"You watch as you can. Probably start carrying a small sketcher pad with you to just get more used to on the fly roughing for reference.", Amedea said as she followed him, "But for now, I'd just go with the watch as you can. Think of people as a schematic."

"Aye, sounds like it'll work," Jamus found what he was looking for. He set down the tool case he was carrying and began to unpack a few things. He began scanning the shield generator with a tricorder. While that was going on, he pulled out a small electronic spanner and made minute adjustments inside the access panel. As he tweaked he kept a close eye on the tricorder readings.

Amedea relegated herself to holding the toolkit and handing him what he needed. Inwardly she was thankful she knew enough as far as the basics of the required tools. She watched him intently, as if taking mental notes should she need to do this on her own sometime.

"Thaaaaaat... should just about do it." Of course, that was the cue for Jamus' commbadge to ring.

"Jenkins to Jaxom,"

Jamus tapped his own badge, "Go ahead."

"We need an executive decision in main engineering. Its really something you need to see. It could affect the warp core test."

Jamus uttered a few colorful metaphors in his native language. "All right. I'll be there in a bit. Jaxom out." He tapped his badge to close the connection and turned to Amedea. "I appreciate the help but I have to run now. If I ever get some free time we can talk about drawing again eh?"

"You know where you can find me.", she said with a soft smile as she helped him pack up his gear and handed him back his toolkit. As she watched him head off, old memories drifted to the fore, good ones, happy ones that still could make her feel as if she was wrapped up in a warm comforter on a chilly morning. What was it Nonni used to say? 'It's a Sign..'. While Amedea never quite knew what grandma insisted were signs for, on this...yes, it was a Sign..a good sign...one bright for a future here wherever it lead.

Still smiling with almost a bounce to her step, she headed to her quarters to try and get some sleep in.

"Insomnia please release me and let me be"Edit

Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security

Still feeling the good with. an underlying weary, Amedea was looking forward to a good few hours of sleep. The day had overall been full to put it mildly, though that was expected to some degree with all the preparations needed before heading out. Still rated on the good scale with seeing familiar faces, even with one a surprise from more or less beyond the grave.

Her room-mate wasn't here so Amedea welcomed being able to just crash out between full belly coma denied and just being so busy.

Stowing her sketchbook and pencils away, she stripped down to her underwear and curled up under the covers.

It took some adjusting to get things down to that just right amount of blanket burrito and cool spot on pillow before she ruled it as good as it was going to get and closed her eyes.

In the blackness before mind-drift, Amedea was aware of a distinct smell of home. Musty spices with a faint hint of decay. Oddly enough it made her feel homesick so strongly it was like a punch to the stomach.

Cold hands swaddled heavily in cloth grabbed her strongly, pulling her upright.

She couldn't see it's face, it was completely swathed in fabrics.

Eagerly it spoke as it dragged her up and out the door, "Wake up, are you alive...Will you listen to me...I'm gonna talk about some freaky shit now...Someone is gonna die When you listen to me...Let the living die, let the living die..."

Its voice sped up to where it would've been unintelligible to a Binar, and frankly Amedea was more trying to cover her state of undress as she was dragged through the corridors.

Bright starship corridors dimmed, the metal becoming discoloured as if rapidly aging and burnt. Chunks of corrosion softly rained down upon her and her accoster.

Passing sickbay, soft cries of pain could be heard, what Amedea could see of the staff, they were treating what could only be survivors of a brutal massacre. White coats marred by bloody handprints moved among torn flesh of hands outstretched for help.

The decks continued to corrode, viscous matter oozing between circuitry as they passed. Amedea hadn't a clue where they were heading until they reached one of the turbolifts. The lift itself was gone, only the shaft where steady rivulets of blood streamed down.

Finally silent, her accoster pushed her into the shaft.

Twisting the best she could in air to try and get a handhold, it was to no avail.

In the end it was a moot point as her back hit the spikes.

Despite them being the expected rough hewn wood, they ripped through like a hot knife in butter. With how she hit, there was only looking up, watching the distant light fade and bits of herself sticking to the occasional splinter.

The darkness enveloped, and she didn't notice when she lost an eye a few feet up.

The sliding further continued, so when the first stomach twisting flash of light was almost a relief.

Amedea hit the ground hard, the sounds of phasers, disrupters, gunfire and screams around her. The flashes were worse than she remembered, making it so hard to keep Focussed and in Control. Highlander was at her side, hunched over on his knees, dry retching.

Her eyes met his good one, he reached out for her, and They were upon him.

The first gout of blood blinded her and she felt a hard thud.

Her eyes snapped open to her darkened bedroom on the Miranda.

Despite the climate control, her sweat soaked skin felt chilled, even as she pulled the blanket around her and disentangled her mojo pouch. Amedea's eyes darted about, checking the shadows for anything unusual.

Just her darkened room, no calling out from her roommate so she'd not disturbed her. A check on the chronometer showed it had only been an hour since she first laid down.

Something wasn't right, she mused as she remade her bed, something like this hadn't happened in years. Normal was sleep for a couple or so hours, wake up after dreaming weird, stay up a half hour and lather-rinse-repeat. Only solid sleep happened when there was someone next to her, and all things considering, it wasn't worth it to even think along that track.

Amedea got herself a glass of water and did a quick check of messages.

One from home, Wili had gotten her bundles for storage, he'd not had the chance to actually get them up in the storage room since there'd been some young hooligans Sherrif Dirge had been after for weeks boating around and riled the livestock. He and the others sent thier well wishes and couldn't wait for when she could visit.

The last time she'd been home was when she got on the freighter leaving for Terra and the Academy, eyes and face a mess from the mark of Choice.

Shaking her head slightly to clear it from those thoughts. Today had been a good one, a fine start to a new posting. No jinxing with bad thoughts.

Another message was from Petty Officer Axeswinger. Another Mortemondean, not one she knew pre-Choice. His demeanor was of one of the Eastern groups, though not quite as those from Across the Water. Bluff and belligerent to all save his betters, and he was carrying the undertone of that well.

Amedea had to admit he had a good set of huevos to be speaking to her as if he was Captain in offering that they all needed as Mortemondeans to stick together much as they had to during the dark times towards the Rebuilding. While it was no big deal that they tended to group with thier own, made it actually nice for the Festiva de los Muertes as much as she took part of it anymore, how this gutter-rat was sounding, it was as if this were some elite gathering instead of a few from the same world who'd been through the same history.

Trying to reply while she felt this way would only stir up trouble, so she set the message aside to respond to later after she got more sleep in.

Finishing her water, she went back to bed, curling up and readjusting to get that right amount of cool spot on pillow where it needed to be. Please, she thought as she closed her eyes, let that just've been a fluke.

As the darkness descended and she felt the fires around her, making her skin feel like a sausage casing tightening, she knew it wasn't.

It was going to be one of those types of nights...

"Where's your head at?"Edit

Counselor Kaori Lokai
Lt. Amedea Sinistrari, Security

Kaori had just finished with Greene and had her coffee. She started to read more psyche evaluations. It was a boring job but had to be done. She got herself another cup of coffee and sat down once again. She rubbed her slanted blue eyes before continuing reading.

Amedea was convinced that it had to be something automated sent to each Mortemondean that if they didn't show up or delayed their mandatory counseling visit that they'd be automatically logged unfit for duty. She'd passed over the appointment for earlier and when she woke up again after another little over an hour sleep, saw the automessage. 'Really, we should've argued an exemption for cultural reasons', she thought to herself as she shuffled in looking less than thrilled, figuring to get this over and done with.

Kaori just happen to walk out of her office when she spied someone looking as if she had been forced to be there. She took a deep breathe, knowing that his session wasn't going to be easy, "Hi. Follow me please." She had no question in her mind that this girl was there to see her, reluctant but there to see her anyway.

Amedea followed along, still looking less than thrilled. The councelor looked young and that tended to bode fresh from the Academy and all full of unrealistic notions.

As they entered her moderate lighted office, she motioned for the girl to sit. Kaori sat down first , allowing her to sit when and if she wanted to. She wasn't going to force her into anything she didn't want to do. She pulled up her file but unlike with Greene, she only took a moment to glance at the file that had a few viewing restrictions.

Amedea didn't sit, but did stand near the chair, seeming much like a wary tiger not quite about to start pacing. She waited for the councelor to begin.

"I see that you had joined the parkour team. I'm not familiar with that sport." She hoped that was a sport as she had never head of it. "Tell me a bit about it." She wanted to start on a positive.

That earned a blink of surprise from Amedea, clearly not expecting that asked compared to what most others tended to stampede on. "Sometimes it's called free running.", she said, "Involves speed, and agility for the most part, stamina for the long runs. If you've ever seen someone dashing along, leaping over benches or springing off walls, that's parkour."

"Interesting." She meant it, that it was interesting to her. "So, how are you liking Starfleet so far?"

"Not too bad.", Amedea said, "All things considered, it's more like a vacation and I do like to see new things."

"And how did you like your time on the Antares? Tell me about it." She could see that she needed to handle this very differently than the others.

"Same thing, still more like a vacation. Learned there that I really don't like Risa and tend to have more relax time on Argelius even though not many go there anymore.", Amedea said honestly though inwardly she was still waiting for the hammer to fall.

"I'm not crazy about Risa either." She wanted her to feel at ease, "Anything that you want to talk about? I can tell that you don't like counselors in general. Why's that?"

Well, while not quite the hammer, at least it was something. "Not sure if you've read the basics files on Mortemondeans. But the main thing that tends to get most of your type drooling is that we've come out of a long ongoing war that from anyone's guess was at least ten or so years long. Probably longer, not like we kept track when our entire civilization went to crap. We were starting to finally stabilize on our own when we met the Federation and the Klingons. We mostly dealt with the Romulans since they were closer, they helped with medicines, building, giving us basic examples for us to build out on our own for infrastructure. The initial Starships brought more help, but councelors who were more into going through what we'd endured during the darker times when for the most part we'd gotten over it.", Amedea started, clearly getting more animated as she was venting, "I swear, if I heard one more 'I can't imagine what that was like', I was going to beat the crap out of the next one that said that."

She paused briefly, "Think I nearly did, some Lt. Gallardi...Gallo...something with a G that wouldn't let up about rape traumas and partnership abuse. Soon as he started trying to postulate that my man who I saw get torn apart in front of me was possibly trying to take advantage of a mental state that had yet to truly deal with my life circumstances...I chased him clear out of the compound with my thumping stick all the way back to the transporter back up to his ship."

"I'm not really interested in your race or history. I am more interested in the now and the events leading up to you being here on this ship. I am trying to see how you are dealing with past issues that can affect you in the now such as risks that you've taken and issues like that." She lowered her voice after realizing that she was speaking in a bit higher pitched voice, "In fact, you risked your life while rescuing the away team. For someone who is just in Starfleet to see the galaxy, you did a most unselfish act.".

"Old habit.", she said as she flooped down into the chair, a leg draped over an arm, "I like Fordring. He always went that extra step to while being our captain, seem like he was one of us as well. That's a mark of distinction with my people's leaders. Things could've gone either way on that mission, but once those krites started to hunch over to launch spikes, I did it on automatic to take the hits so the others could get out of there. Poison on them wasn't lethal to me but did have me buzzy for a longass while."

She paused briefly, "Guess in essence I couldn't in good concience not do what I did."

"I guess that rules out being suicidal." She was in a way joking and even smiled a little at her own joke. "Well, for the exception of a few reprimands" she used the word "few" loosely, "I don't see anything that raises a red flag in your file. Did you want to discuss anything from your childhood or your time growing up? Perhaps you have an issue that isn't in your file that you's feel comfortable talking to me about."

"What's in the past is past.", Amedea said, "Nothing can change it so why bother mulling over it or dwelling on things. I am..was pissed royally at how the councelors were in the beginning to us. I regret never telling my man I loved him even though we showed it plenty with actions, and at times I have my questions about making the Choice."

As she said the latter, she tapped the stud on her face, "But all that's something I deal with as it comes. If I couldn't deal with it, I'd be back home away from most everyone."

"Fair enough." She observed her as she thought about what else she needed to cover, "Then I really don't have anything else that is needed to be addressed. Since there is nothing else, I guess we are done here."

Kaori stood up, "I do hope though that I have made you comfortable enough to come back anytime you need to talk to someone.

"Well, you've proven you're already a few notches above the types we know.", Amedea said with a soft smile, "I'd say that's a good start."

This made Kaori smile and made her day including boosting her ego, one of which she really didn't have after arriving on the Miranda. But not enough to make her think that she was all that, "I'm glad to hear that. I do appreciate you coming in here on your own accord."

"If I'm ever going to get tossed out of the 'fleet, I'd rather it be for something everyone talks about for decades than didn't show up for the mandatory session.", she said with a smirk.

"I hear that." She returned a similar smirk. All in all, she felt that this session went well, "I think I will make a note that the mandatory sessions be lifted and just the normal annual ones be kept."

"That works.", Amedea said as she got up.

Kaori walked her out, "I'll work on that and see what I can do for you."

"Thanks.", Amedea said, inwardly making a point of spreading word to the others of her people that this one was okay to go to.

"No problem." She watched her leave and went back to her office.

"Standard Issue Psychiatric Evaluation"Edit

Lieutenant Kaori Lokai
Ship's Counselor

Lieutenant Adan Kador
Chief of Security

USS Miranda
(Counselor's Office)

Like many of his people, Adan didn't particularly care for counseling sessions. It wasn't the sessions, or the counselors per say, but mental illness, intimate emotions... these things were uncomfortable topics for sharing, particularly in a society where self-control and discipline were slightly more pressing than in more open ones.

Still, you had to do what you had to do. Starfleet regulations required at least one full psychiatric evaluation every year... even if he thought that following Betazed and the war he received more than his fair share of counseling, Starfleet begged to differ.

He figured it best to get it over with... quickly and as cleanly as possible, before the last night out with his co-workers before they departed. He might not be in the physical condition to deal with it tomorrow. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the chime on the office door.

Kaori had been wondering who else would come to her office without her chasing them down. Just as she was about to call someone to come in for their annual psyche evaluation, the chime sounded. She got up and answered the door, "Hi. Come on in Lieutenant?" She didn't know anyone yet but with doing these evaluations, that should change.

"Thank you counselor." Adan gave a small smile in gratitude before stepping in. "I thought that, if your schedule permitted, now would probably be a good time for the required evaluation?"

"Now would be the perfect time. Please have a seat anywhere you'd like." She sat down, not waiting for him.

He followed, taking a seat a little hesitantly. "Okay... where do we start?"

"Let's see. Your father died before you were born and your mother raised you." She read on, "Growing up, did you feel like you missed out on things? I mean, being raised by just your mother, it couldn't be easy seeing other kids doing things with their fathers."

"Straight for the hard stuff, huh?" Adan chuckled. "Well, no I can't say I felt like I missed out on anything. My mother is... well... an incredible person. She did the best she could under difficult circumstances, and I don't think I suffered any as a result of 'paternal absence' as they say."

She read more of his old psyche evaluation, "I also see that you were quite the resourceful one. If hind sight is 20/20, would you have done it again or would you have waited until you became the proper age to join the Starfleet Marine Corps?"

"You mean enlist?" Adan bit his lower lip. Every time he had a counseling session that seemed to be one of the things they hit on this very topic... but he never had a really good answer. Nothing definitive... and this was no exception to that rule. "I saw things, and experienced things that nobody should ever have to... that was kind of the standard for everyone regardless of their age... but likewise I saw things, and experienced things... good things, that I wouldn't have otherwise. I saw the best and worst sentience had to offer... I don't know if I could survive that again, but I'm... in a way... glad I survived it the first time."

"I see. You were then captured and put in prison. When you think of that time of your life, how do feel now about those who persecuted you when you were there? You had the Jem H'adar, Cardassians and the Breen to deal with. If you saw one of them now, would you want to kill them or could you just walk away and not give them the time of day?"

"Depends. The Jem H'adar weren't the crazed, remorseless killing machines they're depicted to be in some news-reels and text books. Sure, they would kick the hell out of you, beat you to within an inch of your life, but it was always purposeful. The purpose was to learn, to try and understand their adversaries... perversely it was a sort of discovery, much like you and I would consider first contact with another species. They were professional soldiers... they didn't want to actually kill you if they didn't need to, there was no 'intent' so you really couldn't call them murderers, but they didn't hesitate to take life if need or convenience required. The Breen were... well... more cruel I guess. They ran a strict military program, and they were more than happy to 'pacify' you if you got out of hand... but I would have to say the worst was the Cardassians. The Cardassians could beat the hell out of you or kill you in cold blood, but that was extremely rare. It wasn't the amount of force they used... it was the way they liked to screw with your mind. Cardassian torture was very different... the mental component is much more arduous, I..." He stopped to lick his lips, his mouth suddenly feeling exceedingly dry. "It's simple counselor. They had a job to do, and I had mine. I was just fortunate to have been slightly better at mine."

Kaori stood up and poured him a glass of water. "You certainly seem to have a handle on things as far as I can tell. Most people hold their hate close to their sleeve and would admit that they hate them so much that they wouldn't hesitate to kill them if they had the chance." She handed him the water and sat back down. "With everything you've been through and all of your experiences in life, is there anything that you regret?"

"Tons of things." Adan chuckled, gratefully accepting the glass. "Too much to list, really."

Kaori leaned forward, clasped her hands together upon the table in front of her, "But if you could, would you change anything? Is there anything that you wouldn't?"

"Yes there is... I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to get at, Counselor? Are you asking what I would and wouldn't change or just wondering if I would change anything?"

Usually, she wouldn't tell the person during a session the reason for her line of questioning but she'd make an exception here. He was a bit frustrating and evasive in some of his answers, "I'm just trying to figure where you're head is at. We encounter many things including temporal anomalies, alternate time travel and things of that sort. Even in several of Admiral Kirk's reports of his travels tells of such things. If we were to encounter it and you wanted to change things, I need to know that you wouldn't take advantage and try to change things."

"You have my word that I will obey all variations of the Prime Directive, including the temporal and universal prime directives... fair enough?" Yeah he was probably being a little short, but she was asking about things that were 'quite' intimate. It was only fair.

She could tell that it hit a nerve. She made a note and continued, "Fair enough." She looked at him for a moment, then moved on, "It looks like you got lucky. Even though you got caught in some discrepancies, you were able to get your medals and awards which quite frankly, I think you rightly deserved. You then returned home. I know we have touched on this next subject but how is the relationship between you and your mother now?"

He chuckled, a joke Gras once told him about Counselors and their stereotypical need to examine familial relationships ringing in his ear at that question. "After a swift smack to the back of the head she decided to let it go. Our relationship is just fine... I can have her call you if you like?"

She laughed, "No thank you. I believe you" At least the atmosphere was a bit lighter. "So now you end up assigned to the Miranda but you were originally assigned as assistant to the Chief of Security. Now, you find that you are a department head, how does that make you feel?" .

"Nervous, a bit unprepared... I've done policing work, I was a Marine... still I don't think I have any where near as much experience in starship security as some of the officers I'm expected to command. That makes matters tenuous at best... though for some reason they all seem willing to give me a chance. I don't think it fair to ask for much else." He dwelled on his first encounter with his new assistant chief, and couldn't suppress a vibrant blush. "When your next in line asks you if you wouldn't prefer a woman to be... ummm... blatant with their... intentions... you just know it's going to be a hell of a voyage."

Kaori wasn't quite sure what he meant but she didn't pry. "You'll do fine. More has happen to you than most so I'm sure based on that, it makes you a very good candidate to run Security. I don't see any reason why you shouldn't." She punched in something on her PADD and then looked back up at Lt. Kador, "I have no further questions for you. You are excused unless YOU have something you want to talk about."

"Well, nothing that's not a waste of time. Your take on the food, the crew, etcetera." He offered his hand and grinned. "It was a pleasure meeting you counselor, perhaps sometime it'll be under less formal circumstances."

She stood and shook his hand, "Same here." She followed him to the door, "See you around."

"Lounging About"Edit

SCPO. Lorelai MacRae - Engineering Systems Specialist
CPO. Joseph Greene - Master At Arms

Deck 7: CPO Country \ aboard USS Miranda (NCC-77000) \ Work Bay 32, Starbase 616

The lounge was quiet – and that was just how Lorelai wanted it. She was sitting at one of the free tables with a PADD in her hand going over the data from the latest report that the refit team had put in. So far it *seemed* to be good enough.

She took another sip of her ginger beer. She loved the more fiery taste of the beer compared to the sweeter, more carbonated, ale. Plus, as it was only a soft drink, she could enjoy it while on duty.

Just as she was finishing up she heard the door open and then a shadow fell across her. She looked up to see a Chief in the uniform of a security officer. “Are you from the station?” She asked. “Only, if this is about the troublemakers on shore leave, you'd be best to speak to our security team.”

"Actually Senior I'm on that security team. He stepped in, "Joseph Greene, Master at Arms."

Lorelai put her PADD down, stood, and extended a hand. "A pleasure to meet you Chief." She used his title, he was chief and he had earned it after all. That was the thing about CPOs; there was that bond you just didn't get anywhere else. A lot of little traditions and bits of etiquette that made it a pleasure and a privilege to be a member of this family. "I'm Senior Chief Lorelai MacRae and may I be the first to say; welcome to the Goat Locker." She smiled.

He nodded, "Thank you, Senior Chief. Glad to be here." So far it seemed pretty friendly, but then again he was still the new guy on the block.

Lorelai did a quick scan of the room, she was the only Senior Chief there. She guessed that was why Joseph had come over. "Well," she began, "first thing's first. Did the ops. team get you a bunk sorted out?"

"They got me a place." Joe replied "Not bad accommodations too."

“Well, for what they are I suppose they’re not bad. They’re certainly better than regular enlisted quarters. Much more roomy lockers and that extra inch or two on the mattress goes a long way.” She smiled. “Please,” Lorelai gestured towards the chair opposite her own, “take a seat.”

Joe sat across from her in one of the chairs "Thanks."

“So, tell me all about you. Is this you’re first posting as a Chief?” Lorelai asked.

"No, I was Master at arms on the Sun Tzu."

"Ah, so you've some experience. Areth will be pleased."

Joe remembered the name from the roster, "Areth?"

"He's another Master At Arms, Chief Areth Vora. In fact only yesterday morning he was griping about never getting any time off so I'm sure he'll be thrilled to have you here." Lorelai took another sip from her drink. "But him I know, what about you? How did you come to get into security? I mean, I always wanted to be an engineer, tinkering was my thing from an early age but I never had the patience for officer training when I was younger."

"With me it was, I loved doing the rough and tumble stuff, fought a bit more then I should of as a kid. Security seemed like a fit, and I've liked it so far. How long you been in the fleet?

“Twenty-two years including basic.” Lorelai replied. “I’ve been a Chief for the last eight of those. “ She smiled. “Funny, it really doesn’t seem that long when I think about it.”

"I know it just seems to fly by." He chuckled.

“It sure does, becoming Chief was one of the best things that ever happened to me. A few from my induction class have moved over and become warrant officers but I don’t think I could turn my back on the heritage of it all.” She said looking around the lounge.

He nodded, "Yeah I had a few from my boot class do the mustang route, go to be an officer, but why be an admiral when the Command Master Chief really runs everything."

"Indeed they do.” She said with a nod. “We've got a very good CMC on this ship actually; she's, " MacRae thought for a moment, searching for the right word, "hard. Hard but fair, although it may take a while to get used to her. She's been a little tense lately.”

"New ship'll do that." Joe remarked, "plus all those first post kids, make things tough on anyone."

“Well I think it’s the refit that’s causing her, and myself, the greatest degree of tension. Hopefully when we’re underway she’ll calm down to her normal self.” Lorelai thought on this for a second, contemplating the fact that the normal self of T'Shani sh'Akledor was still quite an intense character. No sense to worry the new guy though.

"We can always hope." He chuckled, then nodded, "So far the refit is going okay in security, some brig cells to fix the shorts on but not too bad."

"Well, I'm glad it's going well *somewhere*." She paused, she wasn't going to go through all this again for the benefit of Greene - it was far too frustrating. "We'll be ship-shape, no pun intended, before we leave though. You can count on that...but enough about work. What do you do for fun?

"Fun what's that?" He joked. Seriously though I'm an amateur cook, not that good but it's edible. Camping, fishing that kinda stuff."

"Sounds like you'll be a prime pick for away missions with that kind of field craft." Lorelai sat back in her seat. "Well Chief Greene, I think you're going to get on here just fine. Hopefully your talents will stand you in good stead." She glanced towards the door. "I think the CMC will be stopping by shortly, I'd be welcome of your company if you want to stay and meet her."

"Red, Greene & Blue"Edit

MCPO. T'Shani sh'Akledor - Command Master Chief
SCPO. Lorelai MacRae - Engineering Systems Specialist
CPO. Joseph Greene - Master-at-Arms

Deck 7: CPO Country \ aboard USS Miranda (NCC-77000) \ Work Bay 32, Starbase 616

Lorelai saw the Andorian approach from the doorway. It would have been difficult to miss her though: the blue of her skin combined with the brilliant white of her hair and the gold color of her tunic was quite something. "Time to meet the boss," She said to Joseph as they both stood.

"Senior Chief," MCPO T'Shani sh'Akledor bobbed an antenna toward the red-headed engineer she had met the other day in Sensor Control. "And you must be our new Master-at-Arms, Chief--?"

"Greene - Joseph Greene, Master Chief. Just got on board."

Tish looked the man over, and - seeming to approve - offered Greene a hand of welcome.

"I was just about to give Chief Greene the grand tour, Master Chief." Lorelai interjected. "Unless you would like to do the honours?"

"No, no, that's all Right," Tish waved a hand toward MacRae. "Carry-on, but I'd be glad to tag along. Truthfully, a stroll around this hulk might do me some good." T'Shani had been kept more than busy with the Miranda's refit. Nearly her whole day had been spent in Sensor Control on Deck 16, overseeing the installation of the new key systems. THEN, Commander Summers had come belowdecks and informed the crew that they had the wrong *frakkin'* parts. They'd make it work but it would require recalibrating most of the power-feed trunks. It would be at *least* another 24 hours before they could even begin *testing* the new array; it would be damned close to the time they were scheduled to launch. And if anything, CMC Tinis would make sure they launched, even if she had to get out and push the Miranda, herself. The Old Man was coming back, one last time, to "officially" transfer command to Captain Elaithin, and formally retrieve his admiral's pennant, and raise Jii's captain's pennant. There was going to be a huge gala on the Lido Deck (or as the newer "kids" called it, the Rec Deck). Rumor was that, in addition to now-Admiral Murdock, Captain Grey (of the Arizona) and Captain M'Kantu (of the Galaxy) would be there. If that weren't enough, it was under very tight wraps that the Chief of Starfleet Operations, R.E.L. Price, himself, would be coming. Of course, the Australian hadn't let Jii, his former Chief of Security know: it was to be a complete surprise.

In other words: the Master Chief had plenty to take care of. Still...she could take a quick stroll with her chiefs.

As the trio began moving down the corridor, Tish turned to look Greene over. By human standards he was an attractive, well-built man who carried himself with a bearing of authority, no doubt honed from years as a Master-at-Arms. Tish supressed a small chuckle, recalling the time when, as a young Gunner's Apprentice, her GMC (Chief Gunner's Mate) had warned her that there were three "gods" that you didn't mess with on a starship: The Skipper, the CMC, and the Masters-at-Arms. "Tell me, Chief Greene, what brings you to the Miranda?" she asked.

"Mainly a change of pace, my last posting was a border protection cutter, so I wanted to do more deep space and the Miranda had a billeting for an MAA."

"Well, we're glad to have you here." Said Lorelai, clapping her hand on the new MAAs shoulder. "Let's begin - right here." She extended her arms. "The CPO lounge, actually it'd be more correct to call it one-half of the mess hall. The bar and galley area over there is built at an angle and bisects the hall into two parts." She started to walk. "We'll go through and take a look at the other half."

"Sounds good." Joe said as they walked, the Master Chief trailing silently behind. Though T'Shani was the *de-facto* President of the Mess, it was MacRae, as part of the refit crew at Utopia, who had been responsible for the work on the CPO Mess and the CMC offices. This was - quite literally - her "baby."

“As you know the shift pattern is three watches - eight hours a time," MacRae continued as they inspected the other half of the mess. "The main mess is normally open two hours on each side of the shift change, give or take. If you miss it, though, don’t worry: the bar can cater to your needs. We can’t have the troops going hungry, can we, Master Chief?" she redirected.

"Of course not, Senior," Tish played along. "Last time that happened, the Old Man nearly had a mutiny on his hand," Tish winked, cluing Senior MacRae into the fact that she was trying to pull the new MAA's chain. In fact, he did seem to go a shade paler, at the mention. Then again, T'Shani had never been good at reading Pinkskins - so many different shades of skin (unlike the Andorians, who were pretty uniformly-toned)...some not even remotely "pink," to start with. Tish shooed the errant thought with a back-flick of an antenna, though, trying to listen again to MacRae.

"Our more formal meals are taken in here too, with the usual dress and etiquette rules observed." Lorelai turned to the Andorian, "Which reminds me, Master Chief. New Captain; will we be having him for the traditional meal?"

A mirthful smile played across the shen's face, her antennas suddenly bobbing in amusement. "Oh, of that, I'm sure."

Joe chuckled, the joy of being the new guy was he got the grief he expecting to get, he had given some out and receiving it was his lot, until someone else new came in.

“Okay,” announced the Scot, “let’s take a look at some of the other fabulous facilities that have been afforded to us.” She began to lead the party back through to the lounge area. “The main door.” She said pointing at the door that led from the corridor into the mess lounge. “That’s the only general access for the rest of the crew and the usual rules apply - unless it’s the mess stewards or an emergency situation no-one who is not a Chief enters without permission.” She turned once more to the Master Chief. “I believe there is a standing order to give any such person the dressing down of their life?”

"That would be correct, Senior," Tish replied, a mirthful smile playing across her lips.

“I’m sure, as an MAA, it’ll give you plenty of chance to use your professional voice.” Lorelai smiled. Chiefs in general, and MAAs in particular, had two voices. The calm, normal, everyday duty voice and the *professional* voice. The second of the two was expressed as either a throat-grating shout, used to express extreme displeasure, or a restrained, curt tone, generally used to hide extreme displeasure.

"Absolutely, I think it's issued when you're promoted to Chief." Joe remarked.

"I'll let you and the Armer continue on, Senior Chief," Tish said, stopping at a companionway junction that would take her back to her CMC's Office. I've got so much padd-work to do, I'm going to go insane."

"As you wish Master Chief, I'll see you later." Lorelai said by way of good-bye.

"Good to meet you Master Chief." Joe added.

Tish ducked down the companionway, headed for Thori-knows-how-many stacks of padds that awaited her.

MacRae turned back to Greene. "Well then, after you Chief." She said. "After all, it is your home too now."

“Wild Child"Edit

Lieutenant JG Charlotte Abernathy

10 Years Ago: Georgetown, Texas, Earth

The sun was slowly climbing, filling the sky with a variety of hues. The air was dry and still. Temperatures were quickly warming by the minute. Many predicted it would be another warm spring, which meant the crops would not thrive as well this year either. Keenan Abernathy rested his arms against the old wood fence; coffee steaming in one hand and his ranch logs in the other. Keenan's eyes held strong on his youngest daughter, while he waited for his old friend, Lieutenant Commander Cameron Stanley to join him at the fence.

"Morning." Keenan's voice was rough from ages of smoking. He didn't turn to look at his friend, but instead kept his eyes steady on his daughter.

Lieutenant Commander Cameron Stanley shook his head as he, too, rested his arms against the fence. "You always know when I'm here..." Glancing in the direction of his buddies concentration, Cameron shook his head. "One of these days I'll be worth paying some attention too, Keenan." When he didn't get a response from his old friend, Cameron sighed. "So who is roping whom this time?"

Cameron referred to the commotion, taking place out in the field. Charlotte Abernathy was the youngest of the Abernathy girls, however, she was the best at bringing in the wild mustangs that roamed the Abernathy 's land. She was just barely 15, and yet had enough experiences with horses that made her seem older than her own father. Cameron watched as she slowly approached the stallion grazing on the rich, green grass. Her posture was slightly hunched, her feet crisscrossing as she slowly made an angled approach. It appeared she was making some kind of "shhing" sound, her eyes never blinking. Before Cameron realized it Charlotte had him. Her hand clinched his mane; she held tight as she jumped and swung her legs out and over the stallion's muscled body.

"Jesus Keenan! You know one of these days she's going to get herself killed!" Cameron almost yelled, his eyes bouncing between the two.

Charlotte's thighs glued themselves to the stallion's ribcage. She held on tight as the horse tried to remove her from his backside. Her hat went flying across the land when he raved up on his two hine legs. Cameron could swear he could hear the crazed girl laughing. It only took a few minutes of bucking before the stallion realized he wasn't going to lose the insane teenager on his back. Charlotte anticipated his next attention of bolting, and before he could do it with her on his back she jumped. She landed hard against the ground, and her target went running off into the distance.

Keenan only laughed and took a sip of her coffee. "You'll get him next time baby."

Charlotte dusted her legs off, and located her hat. Shaking her head, "That one is goin' take some time, Daddy. This is our, what? third encounter? I soulda had him by now." The young teenager was obviously upset with herself. Placing her straw hat back on top of her head, "Moma got breakfast ready yet?"

"Yes'um. Go on in. Tell your moma I'll be in in a minute." Keenan pulled back from the fence, and started walking with his old friend. "What do you want Cameron?"

"Geeze, no 'hi old friend?' or 'how you doing buddy?" Cameron acted offended, but quickly shook it off. The truth was he didn't make many appearances to the old farm without reasons, or unless he was called. "The Federation feels a war may be breaking out soon, Keenan. We could use your skills...."

"No." Keenan's voice was stern. His gaze could kill a man. "I have a family to think about." He shook his head as if to confirm his answer, "There is no way I'm going to risk leavin' my women without a man to care for them."

Cameron sighed, defeated. He knew when his friend had made his decision nothing could change him.

Keenan was a retired marine. He was good at what he did. Now, he had four daughters and a wife he cared about. He was running his father's land, and Cameron couldn't remember when he had seen his friend happier. Charlotte was his pride and joy. The youngest of the girls, she had taken quite well to the rancher’s life. She was skilled with animals, and was good at bringing in new horses. However, her mannerisms weren't the greatest, he loved her more than words could express.

"Shit Ann!"

Keenan and Cameron turned around to see Charlotte giving one of the fellow ranch hands a right hook. She cursed under her breath as she shook her hand out. Spitting on the man, she flashed a smile and ran towards the house. Her heels kicking up dirt as she did.

"Now what did she do that for?" Cameron questioned.

Keenan laughed and shook his head, "Dylan! If you keep messing with her you're gonna end up a dead man! Now get to the barn and change out the hay." Keenan finished off his coffee, "The stupid boy has a thing for Charlotte, and won't leave her alone. She has asked him to quiet hitting on her, and he won't, so she hit him I guess." Keenan shrugged his shoulders. "I don't understand the girl all the time, but you know how wild she is."

"She's just like those stallions she brings in..." Cameron shook his head, "You really ought to do something with th..." Cameron smiled.

"No... Hell no, Cameron." Keenan looked like he could take his friend down for the thought; it was where Charlotte got it.

"Starfleet would do her some good! Plus, we could use the man... woman... whatever power." Cameron tried to reason. "You have to admit she is a wild stallion, and can be out of control! No one can tame that girl. A few years in Starfleet will do her some good."

"She's too young. I thought 16 was the age for the Academy? Plus, if you really think you're on the brink of war, by the time my girl gets out of the academy I'm sure things will have blown over... If you bring it up again you're no longer welcomed on my land." There was no way he was going to see his daughter disappeared into the stars. He loved her too much. Plus, she was his best helper...

"I just meant... The child needs something... She's out of control..." Cameron shook his head; 'Starfleet was her best option to grow up...'

++++++++++

5 Months Ago: U.S.S. Donovan

Her fist landed hard against his jaw, sending him stumbling backwards a few feet. Her hand was sore, but she felt good. "You're a worthless piece of horse shit, did you know that?" Charlotte spat, brushing some hair from her hair.

"Damn it! Who the hell do you think you are?!" Commander Williams wiped some blood away from his mouth as he regained his footing. He was cut off guard. "You're out of control at times, Ann. You need to reel it back in a bit... I was only saying..."

"You were only sayin' what?" Her southern accent came out thick with the question as she cut him off. "You may be my superior, but that doesn't give ya the right to question my judgment every damn minute of the day... I'm sick of you followin' me around and tryin' to find an excuse to get me in trouble!" Charlotte shook her head, "And stop callin' me Ann..."

Williams grabbed her by the arm and brought her close so he could speak firmly, but quietly to her. "You act like I'm trying to force something on you, but you're out of your mind. Maybe if you would get over your pride and actually listen for once you would see that!" He kept a firm grip on her arm as she tried to pull away, "Stop making me look like a fool in front of this crew. This is inappropriate behavior."

"You're bruising my arm..." Charlotte growled. "Let go."

"Fine..." Williams released her arm and took a few steps back. He wanted to make sure there was enough distance between the two of him so he could block another possible blow.

"I can show you inappropriate, Commander." With that said, Charlotte took off her uniform jacket, along with her tank top. She was left with her black, lace bra. Placing her hands on her hips.

"The Captain isn't going to be happy with this, Ann..."

"See if I care, Commander."

1 Weeks Ago: Georgetown, Texas: Earth

It was the humidity that made most hate Texas; it made people sweat as soon as they set a foot outdoors. Some days it was worst than others. However, Charlotte loved the weather in Texas. She never minded sweating; kept her from having to workout so much, and it was an excuse to wear practically nothing. The weather didn't need the excuse for it to be humid, however, that particular morning rain was fixing to roll onto the Abernathy Ranch, which made the humidity worse. The gray clouds were quickly rolling in, and the rumble of thunder was enough to give a person goose bumps.

Charlotte sat upon her best friend, Cadillac. A white stallion, which she had broken in as a young child. Cadillac only liked to be ridden by Charlotte, which was often irritating for the other ranch hands. Most horses had to be ridden often, so they didn't become wild when ridden. However, Caddy never had any issues, as long as it was Charlotte that road him. It didn't seem to matter how long she went away for, he was always glad to see her return home. Now, she adjusted her posture on top of her old friend as she surveyed the weather. It was a beautiful sight.

As the raindrops started to fall, Charlotte dug her heals into the horses ribs and made a clicking noise with her tongue. She held the reigns tight with her left hand, while her right placed her hat back on top of her head. The wind whipped across Charlotte's body, and danced through her hair as the two road across the green opened fields. Caddy's speed picked up whenever Charlotte singled, he loved to run. As the two raced for home, the rain started pounding the ground, soaking everything in sight. Charlotte laughed as her clothes became drenched. Her hair clung against her skin, and she to Caddy. The rain filled the air with a slight gray tent as it began to cleanse everything.

By the time Charlotte had reached the house, she was completely drench. She gave Caddy to one of the ranch hands, and headed around the back porch to the washroom. Her mother hated puddles tracks in the house, so Charlotte thought it best to towel dry some there, before heading to her quarters to clean up.

"When do you leave?"

Charlotte was startled by her father's question as she opened the backdoor. He was sitting in his mother's old rocking chair, smoking a cigarette, watching the rain fall. Smiling softly at the picture, Charlotte realized how life was starting to take its toll on her father. "Ya know if Moma catches you smokin' she's gonna beat you." Charlotte commented, allowing the screen door to close.

"Then don't tell her." Keenan's voice was rough from age and years of smoking. When he smiled there were lines around his eyes and mouth. He was aging quickly these days, and he believed it was from worrying about his baby so much. "Tomorrow?"

Charlotte slowly walked over to the porch railing, and leaned her back against it, facing her father as she did so. "Yes, sir... You shouldn't worry so, Daddy... It's not healthy."

"Maybe not, but it's my job... You're my baby." Keenan took a long drag from his cigarette and then put it out. "Don't plan on taking your top off for your commanding officers again, do you?"

Charlotte laughed. " I'm never going to live that fight down, will I?"

"Starfleet officers aren't allowed to forget where they've been darlin'... Besides... You walked almost half of the Donovan... half naked! I don't think any officer will forget that story..." Keenan laughed.

Charlotte laughed with her dad. "Yeah, the Captain wasn't too happy with me that day... I think I made my point though?"

"And what was that again?"

Laughing, "I don't even remember, Daddy... You know me."

"Cameron was wrong."

"About what?"

"About Starfleet being able to tame you... You're my wild child... The untamable daughter." Standing from his chair, he placed a hand on his daughter's face. "It's why I love you... Don't ever let those bastards change you... Not for one second..."

"Causal Sex"Edit

Lieutenant JG. Charlotte Abernathy
Operations

Space Station Eight: Four Days Ago

"Where have you come from, love?" The bartender asked as he placed a fresh whiskey in front of the young woman. She was beautiful and could handle her share of hard liqueur.

"Well, how much do you want to know?" Charlotte playfully smiled at the man before taking a large swig of her drink. "My former posting had a shuttle craft bring me here..." Charlotte tried to remember where she was, "Space Station... Eight?" Laughing, "and then I'm taking another shuttle craft to Starbase 616 in the morning, so that I can report in for my new posting on the Miranda." Charlotte wasn't drunk, but she was walking down the right path.

Frowning, "I've heard some things about the Miranda's crew... Tough ship." Wiping down the bar, "What is a pretty little thing like you, boarding a big, military ship like that?"

Charlotte waved a finger at the bartender, "I can take care of myself, cowboy." Finishing her third class of whiskey, she could start to feel the effects it was having on her. "Don't let my outward appearance fool you... I'm tough cowgirl, who can take care of herself... Plus, the Miranda is a great ship to serve on... or so I've heard...." Charlotte smiled with pride.

"And does the Miranda know that their new ops girl likes to get drunk and flirt with bartenders?" Lieutenant Tobias Nelson took a seat next to the young woman, and took a good look at her before requesting a beer; she was beautiful and stood out from the regular crowd. The black, fitted, tank-top she wore showed off her womanly curves, and also allowed a man life himself to get a nice view and know she didn't mind him looking. The old earth jeans let him know she was born on earth and like their old clothing customs. However, it was her choice in shoes that had him most curious; black and brown leather boots, with a steal plating on the toe and heal.

Charlotte arched a high brow, "Would you like me to stand up so you can get a better look at my backside?"

Laughing, Tobias took the offered beer and drank a quarters of it before replying, "I wouldn't mind at all, but you can keep yourself for now... I'm sure at some point you'll stand to leave, and then I can get a look at your walk as well."

Charlotte laughed. "Nice. Do you treat all the ladies like this, or am I just that lucky?"

"Why, it's your lucky day." Tobias smiled with his eyes and he drank down another quarter of his beer. "I like your boots."

Charlotte glanced at her feet, and then back at her company. "I've had these since I was sixteen... They've seen their share of ass kicking... My uncle made them for me."

"That's impressive... Most woman throw out their shoes after a few years... I can see why you kept them though. I'm Tobias Nelson. My friends call me Toby."

"Charlotte Abernathy. My friends call me Ann, but you can call me Charlotte... for now." Smiling, she requested a beer from the bartender. Turning in her seat, Charlotte spread her legs open, and leaned back in her seat. One arm resting on the bar, while the other rested against the back of her stool. "So did my boots bring you over here, or was there something else you liked?"

Tobias chuckled, she is straight forward, he thought to himself. "Other things interested me, yes. I would offer to buy you a drink, but it appears you've had quite enough... Anymore, and I might feel guilty for hitting on you."

"Believe me, honey, I can handle my fair share of alcohol..."

++++++++++

1 Hour Later: Tobias' Temporary Quarters

Tobias pinned Charlotte against the wall, one hand against her throat and the other against her waist. Smiling, his lips met hers as their bodies pressed against each other. She was crazy, funny and damn sexy. He couldn't remember ever meeting a woman quite like her, and couldn't help but wonder if there were women like her. His hands found themselves on her butt as he grabbed her he lifted her up to his waist allowing her to wrap her legs around him. Her thighs were strong.

Charlotte ran her hand through his hair, and then pulled his head back so she could look into his eyes. Out of breath, she smiled and studied him for a moment. He was rough and sexy. She hadn't really figured him out yet; was he a player? or was he just that into her? Either way she didn't care. It had been a few months since she had gotten any, and so far the man proved to be good. Bringing her lips back to his, they kissed some more before moving over to the bed.

The two begin stripping their clothes off, Charlotte struggling with her boots for only a moment. "Damn." Tobias admired her body. She worked out, that was for certain. Laying back against the silk sheets, Tobias placed his hands behind his head as Jennifer mounted him. Her thighs her firm and showing their strength again.

Smiling, "Years of riding horses and bulls does wonders for the thighs." Charlotte laughed. "Want me to show you some of my riding talents?"

"Hell yes..."

Had it been an hour or two? Tobias wasn't sure, all he knew was that his day at just gotten better. Rolling over, he tried to catch his breath. His body was sweating, and his breathing was heavy. Charlotte had more stamina than any woman he had ever met. There was a couple of times he thought she was going to kill him! Running a hand through his hair, he closed his eyes for a moment as he replayed the last few hours in his head.

Charlotte rolled over onto her stomach, and enjoyed the cool sheets for a moment. Smiling over at where Tobias laid, "Goin' make it, cowboy?"

Tobias admired her for a moment "That... You... that was...."

"I know." Charlotte smiled, then laughed. "Too bad I'm leaving in the morning... I wouldn't mind repeating this... a couple of times."

"Glad to be of service." He joked.

"Counseling goes both ways"Edit

Lt Kaori Lokai
CPO Joseph Greene

Kaori sat down in a corner. She looked around to get a feel of the place since she had never been there. She knew what she wanted but couldn't see a server of any kind. She wondered if she needed to go to the bar and order first. She had never been on a starship. On the base, there would be waiter just waiting for their next recipients of their service, bad or not.

Joe walked in he had a bit of time to just relax and walked in to the dining room then he looked over and saw the counselor sitting by her self. He walked over and knocked on the table, "Hey....mind if I join you?"

He startled her. After the initial shock, she looked up, "Yeah, sure." She wondered if every male on this ship was 6 feet or more.

He puleld out a chair and sat down, "Sorry to startle you I figure it was that or just sit down and that woudl be rude." Looking around he saw the bar, "Have you ordered yet?"

Embarrassed, she had to admit, "Actually, I wasn't sure if starships have waiters."

"Actually they don't we have to go to the line over tehre and pick up what we wanted, I did the same thing for a week straight before someone finally told me."

Kaori was a bit puzzled, "Oh. Then the answer is no."

He nodded, "the answer is no, c'mon let's get something to eat." He stood up, "follow me."

She stood up and followed him like a little child following her dad. Once there, she thought she knew what she wanted but her tastes seemed to change. This would happen often but she was used to it.

As they walked through the line he looked over the selections, "Good spread today."

Kaori wasn't impressed, "It's alright I guess." She was used to more variety on the base, "Sorry, this is quite a change for me." She grabbed soup and a sandwich."

"I'm used to somethign quick and fast from the mess hall." He paused, then selected a roast beef sandwich and a beverage, then they walked back to the table and settled in, "So where were you before this?"

"Starbase 19. This is the first time I have actually been on a starship which you can probably tell by now. How about you?"

"Border cutter, USS Sun Tsu, so this is actually larger then I was used to. How do you like space duty so far?"

"It's quite a change but I'm loving it so far, well, until I got in here." She excused herself for a moment after realizing that she didn't get a drink. She came back with an alcoholic drink, the one thing she knew they had on the ship. She came back and sat down,' "Sorry about that." She took a sip, "I guess really can't complain."

"Well it's an experience, I liked Starbase duty when I had it before, definately more stuff, but Exploration is part of why I'm here."

"Seems like there are a few on this ship that are here for the same thing. I just wanted to try somewhere different other than a starbase."

"Personally I was always one to get out and see the galaxy, part of the reason I went away from home. Didn't want to get stuck on New Vulcan."

"I really don't blame you." She had nothing against Vulcans except for the factt they could be quite boring. "Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Vulcans except that they make lousy mental patients."

"My step mom was that way, I think dad had to love her, he put up with the times she'd drag me from home and explain how illogical it was for me to act like this. But I grew up. Guess you gotta grow up."

"Yes, you do at that." She had finished half of her drink when she noticed that she hadn't touched her soup. She remedied that. "I'll never understand them as long as I live."

"I lived among them for my formative years and still can't figure them out." He shrugged and worked on his sandwich, "Though bullying was amusing."

She looked at him with a surprised look, "Bullying? What is so amusing about that?"

"They're logical about that too." He shrugged, "I mean they were picking on this one kid and it always started off with "we shall now intent to invoke an emotional reaction."

"Kids are kids no matter what race they are. Try growing up in an orphanage. Bullying was their favorite pasttime. Either they liked you or not."

"Yeah I caught my fair share of hell as a kid and i'd give some out, not proud of it now but then it was darwinistic." He sighed, "Never lived in an orphanage, but yea kids are pretty much brutal little bastards."

"I think the kids the were the worse but then again, I didn't know many kids outside the orphanage." She added, :"I wasn't one of the ones picked on but I saw a lot of bloody noses." Of course, she didn't dare to mention that she faints at the slightest sight of blood.

He nodded, then sat back, "I think it was part of growing up scraped a knee bloody an nose. then you grow up."

"Seems to me that you have an issue with growing up. Maybe I need to get you back in my office and grill you some more."<tag>

"What I can't have a social conversation without ending up in the counselor's officce?"

She laughed, "I didn't realize that I did that. I'm sorry. I guess old habits never die." His facial expression was one that she couldn't quite read.

He chuckled, "I know, I look at every scene like a security crewman, and you look at everything like a counselor. But it's our job."

"I didn't get much socializing outside the orphanage. I have been in and out of orphanages for 16 years. I didn't start socializing with kids outside the orphanage until I was adopted. Who would of thought that I'd become a Counselor?"

"Then again who thought I'd be a security Chief with the trouble I caused. But then again maybe your background gives you insight that others would lack."

"That's so true." She changed gears, "So what do you do for fun?"

"I'm a not too bad cook, nothing too fancy, outdoors stuff, camping things like that, you?"

"My favorite is riding horses. I also write and some archery. All for fun, nothing professional."

"Archery sounds fun, been a while since I've done that."

"I've gotten quite good. I don't know many people who have ever even been to an archery range. That's why I think I got into it. I don't have much competition."

"Well if you would liek competition I'm free."

"Maybe one day I'll take you up on it. Right now I'm up to my eyeballs in psyche evaluations."

"Yeah I've been insanely busy with Security too. Getting everything up to snuff."

"I wonder when we'll get our first mission. Hopefully, I'll have most of the evaluations done by then."

"Not a clue but i do hope it's soon being on base is nice, but free time can get young crew in trouble."

"Well, then I'm glad the Miranda has you to keep these young kids in line." She smiled.

"I do my best, but they still cause trouble." He chuckled, "It's the nature of young crew."

"But they eventually grow up. Once they get a taste of the bad that comes along with Starfleet, they tend to realize that it is not just about travelling among the stars. There is more at stake."

"You hope, if not we have to teach them real quick."

"Eventually, they learn on their own."

"Exactly." He nodded, "So, aside from the ton of evals how do you like the Miranda?

It's okay, nothing special. I'm sure once I get settled in, I'll feel more at home. Right now, it doesn't feel like home at all." She shrugged, "Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like the ship or anything. It's just going to tkae getting used to."

"Yeah I'm still unpacking and I'm used to moving from ship to ship."

"Glad you are. It's so small, so confining. I get claustrophobic sometimes. But it only rears it 's ugly head once in awhile." She added, "Don't tell anyone though. It might make people wonder what else I suffer from. That's the only thing besides fainting at the sight of blood."

"It's something to get used to on ships I still am getting used to it and I've beeen on a few ships, as for the claustrophobia, I recommend the observation bays, lets you feel more open."

"I'll have to remember that. The holodecks help too."

"We don't have any."

She rolled her eyes, "Unfortunately." She knew that. She was just saying what else helps.

He chuckled, "But they do help." he admitted.

"No use talking about what we don't have on this ship. Good thing that I know how to cook. Replicators can make a person lazy. Like I said, it isn't home but I'm sure I'll get used to it...eventually."

"Yeah, besides I kinda like to cook gives me a chance to be creative."

"You like to be creative. Interesting choice of word when talking about cooking. My father enjoyed baking cakes. Now he was creative. Taught me how to decorate them." She laughed, "I think it was the one thing that my mother would let him make. She hated messes."

He chuckled, "My step mom had the belief everything had to be in it's place where it was logical, it's why I try to be creative in the kitchen. Sort of a...last act of rebellion."

"Then you should fit in with this ship without replicators and holodecks. I on the other hand, it will be a learning experience."

"And if you need help, I'm comcall away."

"Thanks." She hadn't realized how much time had passed. She had an appointment and would be late if she didn't get on her way. "I hate to eat and run but I have another psyche appointment."

"I'll see you arund then."

"Yeah, thanks for the company." She got up from the table after finishing the last of her drink that she had forgotten about.

"Up All Night"Edit

Master at Arms Joe Greene, Security
Lt. Amedea Sinistrari

Amedea was in the gym, working out with a solemn look on her face. It bothered her that as much as she'd tried to sleep, the old nightmares seemed to decide to resurface along with she had plenty on her plate already. Axeswinger from Services had left yet another subtly condescending message to her about how the Mortemondeans in the 'fleet on a posting did need to stick together with the second one taking the tone of since she hadn't replied to the first that it was somehow a disappointment.

If she hadn't made the Choice, she'd have his ass skinned raw...possibly literally.

Still not quite feeling the burn for sleep as well as not really looking forward to another nightmare, she headed to a rather intricate piece of equipment, more for Caitian or Belandrid use, but would suit her all the same.

Firing the machine up, it slowly began it's gyration and she leapt up, moving along with it's perpetual motion obstacle course much like a monkey in the trees would.

Joe was up late, he had finished a shift counting phasers and decided to hit the gym, as usual it was nearly dead, except for the fact there was someone using that insane machine he tried once bruised himself so bad he never touched it again, so instead he was working the heavy bag just to loosen things up.

The expression on her face was a classic poker look, showing no emotion or even recognition of anyone else in the room. Amedea's mind was completely focused on the motion of grip, duck, bob, move. A thin sheen of sweat covered her skin.


As he worked the bag he paused for a bit to grab some water and paused to watch Amedea work, "I hated that thing," he commented.

The voice was enough to pull her out of her 'zone' and Amedea missed a grab, tried to flip out but got her shirt caught and managed one spin before kicking the machine off.

As she hung by shirt only, back exposed, she commented, "Have to agree with you on that."

"Damn thing kept smackin me around I was bruised for a week." Then he examined her back the scars being a bit more clinical, those look painful."

As she disentangled herself, it still took a moment for Amedea to realize what Joe was commenting on. "At the time, yes it was. 'Specially with really not having much meat on my bones then. Still didn't give them the satisfaction of screaming though."

"Well good for you, not that I encourage whipping but you got guts."

"Who dares, wins.", she said with a smirk, "And you're up pretty late."

"Late shift, weapon count, we finally have a full compliment thank god."

"Good, the guys in supplies came through. I was ready to start giving them the dual rawr with how stubborn they were being."

"It would have worked, and I didn't even have to pull my usual string pulling." He leaned back, "So why are you up?"

"It's bad enough I've slipped up enough with it as I do.", she said, then sighed, "More like can't sleep. That hasn't happened in years."

He gestured to a chair, "What changed, I know you had issues sleeping a few times on the starbase but most of those were just worked up or something freaked you out."

She flipped the chair around, sitting backwards and resting her arms on the backing, "Hell if I know. This isn't the first prepup for a ship launch I've been on." Amedea paused as she went over everything since she got on board, "Doc's physical said I'm fine, I did have dinner...didn't eat anything I've never had before..though Knish snuck me the most heavenly couple grilled cheeses on cinnamon raisin bread with week past ham. So good I almost lit up a cig after....Met up with the counselor..."

"That go ok? I know you like counselors as much as a Ferengi likes the Auditors."

"That's any of us with counselors, though this one's not too bad. I wonder if she's dealt with us before since she seemed to know the rules.", Amedea said as she tapped her stud, "Went okay though I did vent a bit on past counselor experience."

"Yeah you got a raw deal or three on that end." He took a drink of water, I think I threw one out of security when he was being annoying, if he kept up I would have shot him."

"I can understand some having trouble accepting that it's possible to work through issues on one's own without talking it out. Guess the Romulans spoiled us with that since they were accepting of us as we were. Closest to being nosy is Researcher Galen i-Nn'Verih's been working on a history of us for us by just ambling around getting people's stories and compiling them as is. He's said he'd like to talk with me when I eventually head back home."

"Well ya gonna talk with him?"

Amedea got that inward look again, the silence seeming to feel like hours rather than moments. "I don't see myself going back home for a while.", she said softly.

He paused and looked at her, "Oh? Just want to be away for a while?"

She looked at him thoughtfully. "That's as good a reason as any."

That got a doubletake and he stared at her detecting an evasion, "Well if you don't want to tell me, we won't talk."

"Don't you give me that look.", she said flatly, "I'm not hiding from anything. Just don't see heading back home anytime soon."

"Fair enough. and Like I said we don't have to talk about it. Hell we can talk about anything else."

"Sorry if I snapped, just have a lot of things going on in the head.", she said as she ran a hand through her hair.

"Fair enough and I believe I told you once if you're gonna yell at someone yell at me I can take it. It's what I'm there for."

Oddly enough, that brought a chuckle from her. "First time I dual yelled at you...priceless."

He looked at her with a strained dignity, "In my defense I was unprepared for that little trick, I weathered it better next time."

"Riiiiiight....", she said with a smirk, "And the offer to teach you how to do the same still stands."

"Much appreciated." He poked her arm, "So you thirsty, since we're up late why not some hot tea and a little food."

"As much as I'm full and I never got into the social eating thing, perhaps that's what I need.", she said.

"At the very least the view is nice."

"Meh....stars...starship...see one see them all.", she said as she got up.

"Yeah tell ya what go shower clean up and I'll see you in 20 minutes?"

"Which mess?"

"We can just hit the main one...it's close by and the food's not horrid."

"Haven't been there yet.", she said, "Was too much of a line there earlier."

"That's how it is, too much of a line, gets annoying."

"Too true especially when you're hungry.", she smirked, "See you in a few."

"Seeya in a bit."

Amedea hurried back to her quarters and a quick sonic shower and change of clothes she was at Mess Hall 1 waiting on Joe.

He walked in and looked over at her, "Gee always punctual aren't we?"

"My dad always said, they never care if you're early but it's your ass on the sling when you're late.", Amedea smirked, "And at least the line's non-existent."

"Best part about eating late."

"There is that.", she said as she got in line, settling on a small plate of chili-cheese fries and a carbonated cola.

He grabbed a sandwich and a cola, then joined her, "Good thing is we're almost fully geared up with weapons, Just need to get a couple more and we'll be set."

"Other than that, how'd your day go since I've been hogging all the bsing?", she asked as she started on her fries.

"Not too bad, got everything fixed up in the brig,not a bad day overall, you?"

"Not much past what I've told you already.", she said as she licked some chili off a finger, "Met some fresh faces, all bodes well in my book."

"Always good to meet new faces." He sat back, "Makes the world more interesting."

Amedea finished off her food fairly fast. "True that. You gonna be up for much longer?"

"What you got in mind?"

"More like thinking if I can't get to sleep, not sure what I'm gonna do.", she admitted, "Don't want to go the sleeping aid route since that never ends up working out."

"My dad used to use warm milk with nutmeg, worked like a charm. Would you like a glass?"

"I can't stomach milk well. As cheese, as yoghurt, as cream...fine. But milk as milk, gets me heaving."

He nodded, "well it was one idea, if not if you're not working a drink might help."

Amedea sighed, "Likely option. Haven't done that for years, and hopefully it's just a momentary thing."

"What happened if you don't mind my asking?"

"Just really nasty dreams...memories...not sure what really fits other than nightmares but for the average yabbaho, these are more intense.", she admitted, "It's probably just a form of post traumatic stress, but as a general rule of thumb, Mortemondeans don't sleep too well alone. Comes from for too long having to sleep lightly, not knowing what's going to find you, death coming for you in the night. In the beginning, it was nightmares, but they faded down to just really wierdass dreams. I was sleeping for fits longer, but tonight...don't know what's thrown shit off."

"New surroundings I guess. You're in a new area and it's going to throw things off."

"Doubt it, never happened before.", she said, "It's like it was back before things got better. I was lucky to sleep out a full hour before waking up, over time, got it over to little over two hours, but now...damn."

"Well in that case maybe sleep meds aren't a bad idea as much as you don't want to." He shrugged and set down his beverage. "Not exactly much help am I?"

"At least you're trying.", Amedea admitted, "And you're someone to soundboard off to."

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair, "Really nothing was out there today...normal prelaunch setups, met a guy in sciences who seems nice enough, has Academy eager shine on him, like the guys in our section so far, got some good seasoned folks to work with....and...oh..."

Amedea trailed off, colour briefly seeming off. "And I met the Chief of Engineering....he's almost a twin of my late fella."

"Wow...that's gotta be a kick to the tits, figuratively."

"Like a shot to the head.", she said, "But he's nice, and I've done all my grieving." Amedea paused to fish out her mojo pouch and took out a lock of hair with a bit of dessicated scalp attached, "Even have him with me for memory."

She put the talisman back into the pouch, "But I've seen enough weird shit before and after Starfleet, that can't be it."

"Think about it, you see someone you know is dead, it's going to shock you and bringing up memories you thought buried. Look, here's what you do... head to sickbay talk to Chief Hanrahan, he's the senior corpsman on this shift, tell him you're a friend of mine he'll get you something to sleep tonight, at least help you get through tonight, then you can put stuff in perspective later."

"But that was only good memories and as I said, I've seen wierd shit before and I'm as adjusted as adjusted can be.", she said, "I'll just try to get some sleep and if that doesn't work, knock back a few shots and try it again."

"That works too, though honestly, those good memories are attached to bad memories, you can't control what memories you see. Consider it my advice for the day.... I think I told you once Chiefs help good officers, consider this my assistance to you."

Amedea smiled softly at him, "I'll keep it in mind if my remedy doesn't work, my friend."

"Small Quadrant"Edit

Lt. Adan Kador, Chief of Security
Lt. JG Iniara Sola, Communications Officer

On a quest to make sure all her paperwork, certifications, and other tests were up to date, Iniara Sola concluded that she should probably head to Security. It was almost time for her yearly phaser recertification test, and she figured it would be easier on everyone if she took care of it now, while they were still docked and there were fewer other things to worry about. Her mind made up, she quickly consulted the padd which she had been using to navigate around the vast, complicated ship, then headed in the proper direction.

Security Central was a bit more sparsely populated than she'd initially thought it would be, although she quickly chalked that up to the fact that a lot of the new crew rotation still hadn't arrived. After all, her own department was in the same boat. Stepping into the central atrium she looked around, hoping to catch the attention of someone who could help her.

Adan had most of security out on the beat or settling in and familiarizing themselves with the ship...a prudent measure he figured while the ship was still safely in dock, so that way when it wasn't, people knew how to get where they needed to be and quickly. As a result, only he and three other people were on duty in the Security Center, and he'd opted to pull the ceremonial first shift at the front desk. He heard footfalls, and smiled at the fairly attractive young lady they belonged to... damn she looked familiar. "Welcome to Security, how can I help you?"

"Hi; I need to take my phaser recertification test," she told Adan, then remembered to add, "Iniara Sola, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Communications Officer."

And that's when his jaw dropped. Adan wasn't a Vulcan, but he did have a much better than average memory, and even a sub-average memory wouldn't forget the name of the savior who rescued them. "Iniara Sola of Betazed? The last time I saw you, you were twelve!"

"Yes, that's me..." she replied hesitatingly. Her head tilted to the side as she considered the man, trying to discern if she'd met him before, and if so, where. He looked so familiar...

A long moment passed in silence between them. Then, abruptly, her eyes widened comically as long-buried memories came to the fore. "By the Four Deities..."

++++++++++

Betazed, 2375

It was dark. It was dark and she was afraid.

Not afraid of the dark, mind you; even as a little girl she'd never been afraid of the dark. No, what Iniara Sola was afraid of was what could, and maybe someday would, come in the dark.

In one of the rooms that made up the servants' wing of her family's sprawling estate, Iniara sat curled up in a corner, arms wrapped around legs drawn tightly to her chest, eyes fixed on the small room's single window. Outside, in the distance, a war raged on. Flashes of orange light lit up the inky black sky from time to time, the sounds of explosions and battles rolling past soon after.

Iniara shut her eyes, huddling tighter into herself. If she concentrated hard enough, the flashes and the booming became lighting and thunder in her mind. Just another summer storm...nothing to worry about...it would all pass soon enough...

Suddenly, something very heavy thumped against the side of the house.

Iniara's eyes flew open as she realized how close the sound was to her. Another sound followed almost immediately, a chilling combination of creaking and scraping that sounded like it was coming right up through the floorboards.

The young girl's mind raced as her vivid imagination taunted her with frightening possibilities. The soldiers of the Dominion had reached the outskirts of Janara City by the time the sun had set; was it possible they had made it this far since then? Was that them scraping and thumping around in the passageways that snaked under nearly every section of the house?

Looking towards the door that sat opposite the window, Iniara wondered if her brother had heard the noises too. He would be sitting in the room across the hall, keeping watch through a window that offered an almost uninterrupted view of the short distance down the slope of the mountain to the city center below. If soldiers were marching up towards the residential areas of the city, chances are he would see them.

"Dee?" she called out, her soft voice squeaking slightly from nerves. Several seconds passed with no answer from her older brother. Moving to her hands and knees Iniara crawled across the floor as quietly as she could, poking her head tentatively into the hall beyond. "Dee?"

There was still no answer, but now that she was at least partially in the hall, Iniara thought she could hear voices. The words were too muffled for her to understand through the heavy wood floor, but if she closed her eyes and focused she could feel the presence of several newcomers within the confines of the house. Worse yet, the familiar presence of her brother was among them.

Heart racing and against her better judgment, she moved into a crouch and slowly made her way down the hall, where a weak shaft of light flickered through the small gap between floor and cellar door. Slowly turning the knob she pushed the door open just far enough to slip through.

The light grew stronger as she rounded the first bend in the stairs, although it was still weak enough that she guessed it might be coming from a candle or flashlight. Padding silently past the second landing and onto the stairs that led directly into this part of the cellar, Iniara's breath stuck in her throat as she caught sight of the strangers. Their uniforms were tattered, shredded and slashed as if they'd survived a mauling by a bear. They were also soaked, drenched to the bone... the weather outside having very much acclimated to her innermost thoughts. Two had weapons, rifles with side arms, the dulled, metallic surfaces of which were barely visible. The other two, one a girl scarcely recognizable as a school friend of Dee's, and the other another Marine, helping the girl to the ground.

"Dee?" she repeated, hoping to catch the attention of her brother, who was standing with his back to her and speaking in hushed tones with one of the men. "Dee, who are these people?"

At the first sound from his sister, Glydias turned and looked over his shoulder. He'd felt her presence as she tiptoed down the stairs, but had hoped that she just wanted to see what was going on and would stay out of their way. "They're Starfleet Marines," he answered simply, still with his back to her. "They're not going to hurt you."

Adan couldn't afford to pay much attention to the young girl, because another Betazoid girl had a death grip on his hand and wrist, using his arm to help muffle screeches barely repressed behind gritted teeth. "Gods, it hurts!"

"I know, but we're safe for now, no more running." Adan ran his hand through the mop of wet hair on her head. Poor Tressa had been through... well they'd all been through hell, but if hell had a manure pile, she'd have been crawling through that. He figured she probably sprained, if not broke, her ankle on the landing from their improvised gliders, a landing no where near as soft as intended... and he'd been pulling her through sewer, swamp wilderness, across a river, and now to the relative luxury of someone's basement. Prophets if he made it out of this alive he was... well he didn't know what he was going to do, but sure as hell life would be easy for its remainder. "Glydias, right?" He remembered Tressa mentioning the name when, well, when she was far more lucid and composed then she was right now. "Do you have anything like a pain killer? Extra pillows? Spare blankets or clothes? That kind of stuff?" Adan wasn't exactly accustomed to the mantle of 'leadership', but the breakout was his idea, and he felt compelled to at least look like he was trying to do 'something'. "Gras, guard the outside door, make sure we weren't followed."

It took a moment for Adan's words to process, but when they did, Glydias nodded sharply. He briefly considered sending Iniara to fetch what they would need, but then decided that things would happen more quickly if he just did it himself. Beginning up the stairs he paused just long enough to put a hand on his younger sister's shoulder. "Stay here," he ordered quietly, then disappeared into the darkness above.

The big Orion did exactly what he was told, peering out into the black before shaking his verde head. "No one's out there."

"Good."

"Gods they just killed those people... all of them! The voices Adan, they were screeching! I could hear... screaming, like animals howling..." Tressa frantically rambled, despite her Stagnorian compatriots best attempts to calm her down. Those attempts weren't exactly coming from the best expertise... Adan was only 16 himself, and certainly didn't have the life experience to deal with anything like this. It showed through beautifully in his response. "Shush Tressa, you'll scare people."

"The fires... I could feel them burning! Burning alive!"

In the mean time she was rocking back and forth, tears streaming down her eyes in endless rivers and her words continuing to make little objective sense, fixed instead on the horrific context to which they referred. Witnessing murders was traumatic for humans... for Betazoids it could be downright destructive. The fact that he couldn't get her to stop...get the pain to subside, only frustrated him further. "For Prophets' sakes already, just 'tell' me how to help you!"

There was no response, but she did lay her head against his shoulder. He'd take it for now, compared to the frantic ramblings and constant crying in heavy, breathless sobs, it was a marked improvement. Finally he was able to get a good look at the intruder, a girl... not nearly so little as he expected by the tone of her voice, but still the youngest of anyone present, and several crucial years of development behind them. "Hey there, what's your name?"

Summoning a measure of courage, Iniara unfolded her thin and gawky body, then stood and moved off the stairs. "I'm Iniara," she told him. Her inky black eyes seemed to soak up more than their fair share of light as she stared up at him. She'd never met someone who looked like he did: pointed ears like a Vulcan, face spots like a Trill or a Kriosian, and ridges on his nose that looked a little like a Bajoran's. Did he belong to a species she didn't recognize? Or was he just a child of mixed parentage? Although...either answer would have been interesting, she thought.

Blinking at last, she glanced once more at the other two soldiers, then turned her attention back to the strange looking soldier, who she had guessed was the leader of their group. "Who are you and where did you come from?" she asked, her voice filled with curiosity more than anything.

"I'm Adan. We were in the fighting at Madea... we escaped a POW camp." Training told him that revealing even that much to the seemingly innocent little girl (well, she wasn't 'that' little), but he felt the situation necessitated ignoring SOP for now.

While he spoke, Iniara found herself increasingly drawn to the chaos pouring off Tressa. Her thoughts were still projecting so loudly that Iniara was finding it hard to concentrate on much else. Adan was still holding on to her, doing his best to keep her calm, but physical comforting could only do so much.

Her hand reaching automatically for Tressa's, Iniara paused and looked up at Adan again. "I can help her," she told him, for a moment sounding much older than her thirteen years.

It took Adan a moment to realize what was said to him, and even longer to considerate it. He'd been protecting Tressa pretty much the entirety of the... well he didn't know how many months... since he met her in the camp. To let someone else take over that responsibility wasn't a choice easily made, but the more he thought on it the more he too began to realize there wasn't anything he was going to be able to do by himself. Hesitantly, he gave his nod of approval.

"Tressa," she said quietly, placing a hand on the older girl's arm. ~Tressa, come here,~ she continued telepathically, ~let me share your pain.~

"No!" Tressa screamed mentally and out loud, fighting against Adan to back away.

"Tressa, stop." He tightened his hold against her, but did so with care not to hurt her. "She's going to help you."

"She's too young!" Tressa shouted at the top of her lungs. "She's just a child! She shouldn't be subjected to..." and as the issue came back the Betazoid flashed back to the camps, to the emotions and thoughts she picked up from not only the prisoners whom she saw executed, but the fear and panic in their executioners as well. Conflict permeated her thoughts... the sheer terror when one recognizes the immediate, mortal danger they were in, the instant of insane depression that followed in the last moments of life when one knew they were dead... and on the other side the constant fear that the enemy would keep attacking so long as they had reason to believe they could rescue the prisoners. The worry that they, or their comrades, might be the next ones to die because of one of those attacks, and a steely resolve to see that didn't happen. There was also the regret, the sorrow, for being forced to such extreme measures... for shutting down one's own compassion for the sake of survival.

It was all too much, and Tressa began fighting like a wild cat. Clawing, thrashing, hitting, pushing, squirming... Adan had an easier time riding a bucking wild De'nali mustang then keeping his hold on the teenage girl. How he managed to do it was beyond him, but eventually even she tired herself, having exhausted super-human levels of strength and tenacity, and settling instead on horrid screeching and yelling.

Good old verbal resistance. That was at least a little easier to cure. As much as he hated to have to stoop to such a level, it was obvious that Tressa wasn't going to allow this on her own, and he couldn't allow her inability to cope to betray them. Too much was riding... he simply squeezed her as hard as he could, and covered her mouth with his hand, taking care to let her still breathe and avoid the occasional attempted bite. "Please Iniara, do it."

Iniara nodded once, turning her attention back to the still-thrashing Tressa, everything else in the dimly lit room falling away as she focused on the older girl's presence and entered the first levels of her mind. Helping another through their pain was one of the most important skills a Betazoid could have, and as such it was one of the first things children were taught when their talents awakened. Iniara knew she was young and might not be able to do as much as an older, more experienced Betazoid, but she couldn't just sit here and do nothing.

Moments later, soft footfalls from above announced Glydias' return. He moved carefully down the stairs, his hands now full of supplies. "I hope this will--"

As his gaze fell on Iniara and Tressa he stopped, finally understanding the changes he'd felt in the room's aura as he descended. Frowning, he watched them for a second more, then forced himself to look at Adan again. "I don't know if this medical kit will have what you need, but it should help. There's food, water, bedding, two rechargeable flashlights..." he ticked off the list as he spread the items on an unused table that sat in the corner. "All of the house's staff left weeks ago, but they left some things behind; maybe some of this clothing will fit. I'm not sure any of it will fit you," he finished, giving the Orion soldier an apologetic smile. "Sorry."

Gras smiled. "That's all right buddy, I'll manage."

"The power has been out for days," Glydias continued as he sifted through the clothes to see if there was anything that Gras could squeeze into, "but the water is still on, and clean. I heard they poisoned the water supply down south, but up here in the mountains the aquifers run deep. Probably not enough people around here to make poisoning worthwhile. I hope." He paused, sighing deeply. "Anyway. The nearest bathroom is just upstairs, second door on the left, if you need it. Water's freezing cold, but...it's still water."

Adan wasn't paying much attention. Tressa continued resisting until she quite literally passed out from exhaustion. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and it broke his heart to have to 'force' her to take medicine this rough, but he knew she had to... for her good, and everyone else's as well. Eventually he felt her breathing shallow, the tremors stop... and her eyes closed. Carefully he relaxed his hold on her... they were both exhausted, but he wasn't about to move and disturb her from hard won rest. He slid a lock of redish-brown hair from her eyes... making sure she was as comfortable as he could manage to make it for her. He looked up at the little girl who, quite frankly must have had the heart of a lion. "Thank you."

Iniara blinked once, then twice, then three times. Her movements seemed more like those of someone who'd just awoken from a years-long coma, not those of a normally energetic teenage girl. Slowly her eyes focused and she looked aimlessly around. Her brain registered that she'd been spoken to, and she turned to look at Adan. Even in the low light he could clearly see how much she'd changed in just the last few minutes. Her skin was pale, there were dark shadows under her eyes, and her normally plump cheeks had become sunken, almost gaunt. She looked like she'd seen a ghost; more importantly, she now looked like she was a ghost.

She looked at him for several long seconds, her mouth moving soundlessly as she tried to respond. Finally, the correct processes in her brain engaged and she told him in a barely audible whisper, "She...will heal." And then, as if the last reserves of her energy had given out, the young girl dropped heavily to her knees, wavering there for a moment before slumping sideways into the arms of her brother, willfully succumbing to exhaustion.

++++++++++

"Adan?" she asked, still disbelieving. "Adan Kador?"

"You remember." He couldn't help but be a little flattered, and cupping her cheeks in his palms Adan nudged her forehead with his own in the standard, affection greeting of his people. "It's been years... how is your brother?"

"Well," she replied with a smile. "He's recently taken a position within the Federation Embassy on Trill. Oh, and our mother plans to have him married off by the end of the year, hopefully before he's had the chance to lay his eyes on the spotted beauty of his dreams and ruin all her plans," she added with a slight giggle.

He chuckled. "Trill women certainly have an aire of beauty about them, don't they?"

"And what of you? A Security officer aboard the USS Miranda; that's a jump from Marine infantry. Not as big a jump as say, Medical or Engineering or that..." She paused in mid-thought, then looked back at him, enthusiasm clear on her face. "Never mind my ramblings; tell me everything!"

"They found out I lied about my age, barred me from re-enlistment, I went home and went to college, had a couple of jobs, got bored and came back." He shrugged. "Not much to tell. How about you? Last I'd heard you were the heart-throb of your high school class."

At that, Iniara laughed out loud. "I don't know about that, but..." She paused, shaking her head slightly as a last chuckle escaped her lips. "Hey, I don't want to take up all your time here...what say we get together this evening and catch up properly? That is, if you don't already have plans."

Stupid plans. "Actually a few of my staff and I have a get together planned for tonight. If you don't mind a late dinner I'm sure our meeting won't last long, but if not would you take a rain-check for tomorrow?"

"Sure; meet in the mess hall around 1900?"

"Sounds perfect to me."

"Excellent. Now, about that phaser cert..."

“Just the Cook, Part 1”Edit

CPO Ascher Starke

Starbase 616
Level 54
Thalok’s

Thalok’s was a quiet bar; the kind where, as they might have said on Old Terra, everybody knew your name.

Unlike the larger drinking establishments on the starbase, with loud, wide open spaces and tables, maximizing the number of people that could fit – and drink – simultaneously in them, Thalok’s was all subdued lighting, small booths, and quiet. There was a bar of course – an actual one with stools – from behind which drinks were mixed and from which the bar’s owner ran the establishment, but other than that there wasn’t anything resembling a public area. Just quiet booths, where one could sit and drink, think, and escape the noise and crowds of the starbase.

And Ascher liked it that way.

He wasn’t much for crowds, or noise, or the way they made him feel. He preferred smaller numbers of people, smaller spaces, less noise… and Thalok’s had been the answer to all of that from the first day he’d reached the Starbase on the return trip from New Vulcan to await his reassignment. A few questions, a few credits changing hands, and he’d had the directions to the quietest place on the ‘base, a few more slipped into Thalok’s work-roughened sky-blue palm had guaranteed the quietest booth in the place all day long, and some more slipped into the equally blue and much softer hand of the waitress to ensure that he received a steady refill on his drink of the moment – Terran coffee right now, since it was a bit early for something harder.

It was, all things considered, a lot of money to pay for the privilege of sitting in the dark all day for over a week, but he didn’t care. He had the money – twenty years of back wages sitting and drawing interest without having ever been touched added up to more than he’d expected – and he wanted the quiet, so the exchange was worth it to him. Even if he’d not had the money he did, it would have been worth it.

Judging from the looks the waitress, Flera, had been giving him for the few days, and the moments of small talk that she’d slipped in while bringing him a meal or refilling his drink, she was hinting that she wasn’t opposed to a different sort of exchange. Or perhaps she was just being polite, Ascher wasn’t certain, having dealt with few Andorians in his life - and fewer still that might be sounding him out for a night together someplace where the lights were just as low as in Thalok’s, but the service was much, much more personal.

He hoped that she wasn’t going to be upset when he didn’t take her up on the offer.

Another place, another time, there wouldn’t have been a question about that. He didn’t know much about Andorian standards of beauty, but by his human ones, Flera was most definitely a ‘loaded vein’ as he would have said back in his youth, antennae notwithstanding. Her quiet moments of conversation over the past days had hinted at a sharper mind than was to be expected in her occupation as well, something that he’d also discovered was attractive to him as a young man, and she seemed genuinely interested in him – although whether that was a cultural difference, good acting, or sincerity he couldn’t tell.

It was just too soon, that was all.

Too soon since T’ren….

Too soon since the touch of her hand on his shoulder had sent him down into darkness alone….

Too soon since he’d said good bye a second time to her on New Vulcan….

Just… too soon….

++++++++++

New Vulcan
100 Kilometers outside New ShiKahr
T’ren’s Family Residence
27 days previously

Her family’s home was as she’d described it to him, a low structure of quiet stone surrounded by carefully-placed rocks and equally carefully-raked sand. He liked that, as he’d known that he would, the adoption of a purely Terran custom into a Vulcan household. It was a small touch, but an important one, that sand, showing that her parents possessed open minds that were able to adopt elements from other cultures into their own.

Like their daughter had adopted him into hers.

He still wasn’t sure what he was going to say, or even what he should say to the parents of the woman that he’d lived with, worked with, and loved for over a decade. She’d been Vulcan, after all, not human, and he had no idea how her parents would react to the idea that she’d chosen him, had chosen to set herself outside her people’s need to reproduce and grow their population when selecting a husband to replace the one they’d found for her as a child when he died. Particularly, that she’d chosen a human husband.

His feet made soft sounds on the gravel of the path that led to the door, the small stones grinding together as his weight pressed down on them. He knew how the gravel felt, with that weight pressing down. He felt it too, that weight. The weight of his feelings for their daughter, the weight of the uncertainty, the weight of his loss... and the weight of the bag slung over his shoulder.

Especially the bag.

The door was as austere as the rest of the structure, the stone surface broken by no hint of decoration or ornamentation, the finish slightly rough to alleviate the need for constant re-polishing after weathering. Ascher was glad for that – he didn’t really want to see what the expression on his face looked like at the moment. He stood there, knowing that the house would have announced his presence even though he had not done so himself, spent a few seconds wondering how long her parents would wait before answering the door anyway, and finally pushed those thoughts aside and touched the announcer once. It took only a few seconds for the door to open, signifying that they had indeed been waiting for him to announce himself.

It was her mother, T’cre.

The resemblance was clear, especially the eyes and the way she held her head, meeting his gaze. Vulcans aged well, and had he not known that T’ren had no sisters, he might have thought this was a slightly older one… but he did know, and that left no doubt as to who she was.

“Live long and prosper,” Ascher offered, his hand making the gesture that T’ren had taught him easily. He hoped that his Vulcan was acceptable; T’ren had told him it was, but this was the first time that he’d ever spoken it to someone other than his wife.

No, his late wife; he had to start thinking of her that way, now.

His accent apparently passed muster, although he doubted that anything would have been said if it hadn’t, and T’cre nodded once, returning the gesture and greeting as she took in his uniform. She hesitated for only a moment, before inviting him indoors, out of the warmth and into the home that he might have shared with her under happier circumstances if things had been different.

But they weren’t different, and these weren’t really happy circumstances… although there was chance that could turn around, even if just a little.

“I apologize for the intrusion,” Ascher began after the traditional phrases of welcome and invitations to refreshment had been made and responded to. “I… served… with your daughter, T’ren, at her last duty station, and…” he paused, uncertain what to say next. How *did* one say, ‘I’m the son-in-law you don’t know you had’ to a grieving mother?

T’cre solved the problem for him by nodding. “You are Chief Starke…” she pronounced it correctly, with the silent ‘e,’ something most people, human or not, failed to do “…then; the survivor. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Yes,” Ascher nodded, relieved that some introductions weren’t necessary. “And… I am pleased to make yours. Your daughter spoke of you and your husband to me on several occasions after Sevak’s death; we talked often, to relieve the sameness the days.”

‘The survivor’ was an apt name for him, Ascher thought in the silence between words. He always seemed to survive… even when he tried not to.

The woman who was his mother-in-law studied him for a moment, perhaps uncertainly, perhaps considering her response. “I am afraid that I do not understand,” she finally said carefully, as if trying to draw the explanation from him. “Either the purpose of this visit, or….”

“I came,” Ascher answered before she could finish, “for three reasons: the first, purely human and emotional; the second, to fulfill a request; and the third to seek the answer to a question.” All true reasons, but not truly all of the reasons – he didn’t list the fourth: to meet the couple that had given life to his wife.

“Ah,” T’cre said in the Vulcan way used to indicate understanding when one was actually confused.

“The first reason,” Ascher said, “was to apologize for being the one to survive and not your daughter.” He set the shoulder-bag down carefully and knelt before bowing, forehead touching the floor, in the ancient Terran style used by the Japanese people for formal apologies God knew, he’d tried hard enough to die with her, but T’ren had tricked him, used her nerve pinch to knock him out, and ensured that he survived. Logical, he was sure, from her point of view, even understandable, since he’d have done it to her if he possessed the ability, but it still left him alone…. Again. “I beg your pardon for my failure to protect and safeguard your daughter,” he said carefully, keeping his voice as level as possible.

“That is not logical,” his wife’s mother observed quietly.

“Of course it isn’t,” he agreed holding the bow for the prescribed number of breaths, before slowly releasing it and straightening up. “It is, as I said,” he continued, keeping to the more formal Vulcan way of speaking to try and not embarrass himself further, “a purely human, emotional response – but still, from my position, a necessary one.”

She studied him as he knelt there. “You suffer from feelings of guilt for surviving when those around you did not; is that correct?”

“Yes.” It was that and more, but Ascher didn’t feel as if that was a prevarication – he was, indeed, guilty over living where T’ren had died.

“We understand this,” a male voice added, as Selan, T’ren’s father, entered the room through an interior archway. “We both researched the subject of loss after we were informed by Starfleet that our daughter had been killed. Many times in the literature the representative left us, this topic was discussed.”

Selan was tall and lean, like all Vulcans, but his hair was a lighter shade than his wife’s and daughter’s raven black, more of a dark brown. Ascher thought that meant one of his parents had possibly been Romulan, but didn’t see where asking was going to be useful.

His father-in-law reached down and offered a hand to him before Ascher could bow again. “Please, stand, Chief Starke,” he said, his grip firm. “This is… unnecessary.”

From the tone of voice, Ascher thought that Selan actually meant ‘uncomfortable,’ but he allowed himself to be assisted to his feet. “Thank you, sir, ma’am,” he offered once he was standing again. “I… apologize if my apology has made you…”

“No need to apologize,” T’cre assured him, her voice still gentle, pitched almost exactly like T’ren’s had been. “Was this… sufficient… to assist with your journey through the stages of grief?”

They really had read all the material the Starfleet representatives handed out when a member died, Ascher realized. Not surprising, since Selan had said so, but not what one expected from the traditionally stoic and severely logical Vulcans either.

At least, not what people who hadn’t loved and married one might expect. Those that had knew differently.

“I hope so,” Ascher answered honestly. “But… it may be some time before I know for certain. Among humans, such things often take years to resolve themselves fully, if at all.”

“I…” T’cre began, then glanced at her husband and amended herself, “*we* would wish for the resolution to your journey to be both successful and swift.”

“Thank you.” She sounded more like T’ren with each passing moment, making the ache inside Ascher worsen with each gentle word.

“You said there were three reasons?” Selan asked, proving that eavesdropping wasn’t a solely human pastime.

“Correct,” Ascher nodded, relieved to be moving towards the completion of his task and the discovery he desperately needed. “The apology was the first, the second… the second was to give you something in fulfillment of a request made to me by your daughter.”

The two looked at each other. “Our… daughter?” Selan asked.

Ascher nodded. “She… made me seek safety when it became apparent that the facility would be attacked.” The muscles in his shoulder and neck ached in response to the words, echoing the pressure he’d felt as T’ren had applied pressure to the nerves there and he realized what she was doing. “But she gave me something - left it with me – to give to you.”

“She gave you something to give to us?” T’cre asked. “Why would she do that?”

Ascher reached down and picked up the shoulder bag. “She knew what was going to happen,” he explained. “We all did. But she wanted to try and ensure that it wasn’t a waste, you see. That everything wasn’t lost… that *she* wasn’t lost…” He unfastened the clasps and drew back the top of the bag, revealing the football-sized octagonal topaz crystal it contained, a soft light emanating from within the mineral, casting a faint shadow on his hand. “So she left this with me.”

T’cre and Selan stared at the crystal for a moment, and then looked back up Ascher.

“I couldn’t bring you her soul,” Ascher told them in answer to the questions they had yet to ask. He touched the side of his head with the forefinger of his free hand. “Not here, anyway – my mind wouldn’t accept it.” He looked down at the softly-lit crystal. “But she hoped that this…”

T’cre reached out, oddly hesitant, preventing him from finishing as though she understood what he was saying without needing to hear the rest. Her fingers hovered over the crystal for a moment, and then dipped down to brush against it.

Ascher held his breath.

For an instant there was nothing, and he felt as if his heart would tear open, the knowledge that T’ren had failed, that the project had been for nothing, that his wife was truly lost, extinguishing the hope that had kept him going since the Pathfinder Team had found him…

…and then T’cre’s eyes widened slightly and she looked over at her husband with a snap of her head, saying nothing.

Selan reached out and touched the crystal as well.

“Did it… did it work?” Ascher whispered after an eternity of silence.

After a few seconds more silence, Selan drew his hand back and nodded once, his voice calm, “The crystal contains her katra, yes.”

For a split-second, Ascher’s sense of relief was so great that he almost fell, dropping the crystal that held his wife’s essence as his knees gave way… but he didn’t.

For a split-second, Ascher’s sense of relief was so great that he almost shouted in triumph, his voice echoing through the still room like the roar of a lion… but he didn’t.

For a split-second, Ascher’s sense of relief was so great that he almost wept, tears of relief and joy that T’ren was not lost after all pouring down his face… but he didn’t.

Instead he took a single breath, holding it deep within his lungs for exactly fifteen heartbeats as T’ren had taught him to do, and then let it out slowly. “Good,” he replied as evenly as he could. “She… is of your House,” he added more formally, “and I return her to it with all honor.”

T’cre, who had not drawn her hand back before, did so then, and bowed her head to him in acknowledgement and thanks. “We thank you,” she said simply, “for returning our daughter to us.”

Ascher inclined his head in return in the proper manner, drawing a slightly raised eyebrow from Selan, but no verbal comment. The forms being used were old, and not in vogue at the moment, so the reaction to Ascher’s knowledge of them was hardly surprising. “It is my hope…” he paused, his voice failing him as T’cre reached out a hand and twined her fingers into her husband’s, the gesture simple and unobtrusive – but more touching for that simplicity. No, he couldn’t add to their burden, couldn’t make things harder for them than this already was. They’d been given their daughter back, in a way… they didn’t need a human son-in-law too. They had dealt with enough surprises today, enough shocks, the additional one of his status was unnecessary.

“She knew everything,” he said, abandoning the traditional forms that would have revealed his connection to T’ren – and to them. “All of the project data, all of the processes, the chemical compositions of the crystals on Nevras Delta so they can be duplicated, the accelerated crystalline growth cycles that worked… and now you and your people do, too, through her.” He paused, watching the understanding appear in their eyes before finishing, “You don’t have to lose anyone else to time, lose any more knowledge to the years, like you did in the Destruction, when you lost the stones to hold them. It is her final gift to you and your people.”

His in-laws looked at each other then, and he looked down, unwilling to intrude on what was passing between them. Instead, he busied himself with a final touch to the crystal that he now knew held the essence of his wife, an essence that he was forever barred from touching, from feeling, thanks to the barrier in his mind. ~ Farewell T’ren. I love you. ~ he thought, hoping that the message would reach the part of her that resided within the crystal, but knowing that it wouldn’t. Carefully, gently, he closed the shoulder-bag up, fastening the buckles, only looking up when he was done.

T’cre and Selan were watching him with curious Vulcan intensity.

Before either of them could speak, Ascher offered the bag to Selan with both hands. “I give her back into your care, then; to you and your people.”

T’ren’s father released his wife’s hand to accept the bag containing their daughter’s essence in both of his, the skin on the back of his hands tightening slightly as his muscles worked beneath it, betraying the strength he gripped it with – and the emotions that prompted that grip.

Anyone who though that Vulcans felt no emotion was, Ascher thought in that instant, a fool.

T’cre spoke up then, before Ascher could move or speak on his own. “You are… emotionally involved… in this in some way are you not, Chief Starke? The signs are clear.”

There it was, the opening he needed. He could tell them now, explain about T’ren and their marriage, about how he felt about her, about how he was about to collapse from relief now that he knew that she wasn’t gone, wasn’t lost. He could tell them that they were his in-laws, the only people left in the universe that he had a connection to, his only family, T’ren’s last gift to him. He could tell them…

“I had to know that it wasn’t all for nothing,” he said instead. “That was the third reason, the question I needed the answer to. I had to know if all the years, and the death, and the families that would never see those they loved again… I had to know if it had all been a waste. Because if she was gone, taking all that knowledge with her, then… then I don’t know if I could do this again. Not if it had been for nothing.”

A single eyebrow rose slightly in a gesture so identical to her daughter’s that Ascher’s heart did, finally, tear open, and T’cre simply nodded.

“I… I need to… go….” Ascher managed to say, bowing to his unknowing in-laws again. “Before I embarrass myself – and you – further. Please… please excuse me.” He felt the tears burning at his eyes, and fought them back with all his might, holding them off long enough to say, “Live long and prosper

He didn’t – quite – run to the door, which was why T’cre was able to catch him there, half in and half out of the home he would never share with them or their daughter.

The touch of her fingertips on his arm stopped him as surely as a tractor beam, holding him there as he struggled against the need to turn and embrace his mother-in-law, against the need to break free and run into the desert, losing himself in the heat and sand, against the need to scream his pain out loudly enough that the echoes would travel through space itself. He did none of those things, though; he simply stood there, one foot partially lifted, his mother-in-law’s fingertips on his right forearm, motionless, knowing that if he turned to look at her… something… would happen. Something that he couldn’t handle, couldn’t deal with right now. Maybe never. So he stood, and waited.

“I… do not understand something,” T’cre said after a moment when it became apparent that Ascher would neither pull away or turn to face her. “Might it be possible for you to enlighten me as to why my daughter chose you to be the bearer of her katra?”

The tears he’d suppressed were starting to fall now, silently, giving him another reason to not turn around. It was rude, he knew, but he couldn’t. If he turned and looked at her, then… then he’d come undone and he didn’t know if he’d be able to put himself back together again. “I…”

“I do not ask to pry,” she said gently, her voice still as even as a straight edge, transmitting emotional context by volume rather than inflection. “But, traditionally, this task is only entrusted to those that are closest to us, our friends and our family. Is it that you were one of these things to T’ren?”

Ascher stared out at the desert, struggling to form a response – any response – that didn’t start with a scream of raw, bleeding pain in the form of his wife’s name. He had to say something, had to tell T’cre something. Maybe he could get the truth out. Maybe she would understand and accept him. Maybe he didn’t have to be alone in the universe again. Maybe…

He got his mouth to open, just a little, but enough and started to answer her….

++++++++++

Starbase 616
Level 54
Thalok’s

The Present

“Hey.”

Ascher blinked, the single word drawing him back to the present, to the cool, dark booth in Thalok’s and the blue fingers that were touching his arm as T’cre’s had been. Glad for the dim lighting that might hide the tears on his face, he blinked several times before he could focus on Flera’s face as she bent over to speak to him.

“Yes?” he asked quietly, only lifting his eyes up halfway to her face initially out of embarrassment, and them raising them the rest of the way out of further embarrassment when he realized that unless he did so, he would be looking down the front of her tunic at parts of her anatomy that weren’t normally on public display.

“Are you all right, Ash?” She didn’t comment on the tears that she had to be seeing, and her use of the nickname she’d asked if she could use no longer seemed as odd as it had a week ago.

“Not really, no.” Why was it, Ascher wondered, that talking to bartenders or waitresses was easier than talking to other people? Was it the types of personalities that were attracted to the job? The alcohol – which wasn’t it today unless his coffee had been spiked – people drank there?. Something else?

She didn’t respond immediately, just nodded, and drew a cloth out of her pocket and offered it to him.

Ascher took it and dried his face, the faint scent on the cloth not quite perfume and not quite Flera’s, but some subtle mixture of the two. “Sorry,” he told her quietly, his face hot from shame. “I…” He shook his head once. “Bad day, I guess.”

“Nothing to apologize for,” she assured him. “Do you… want to talk about it? That helps me sometimes.”

Did he? Ascher considered that. Did he want to talk about it? To tell someone? He wasn’t sure, but he thought that Flera wouldn’t mind. She had the right look, and maybe… maybe she’d hold him for a while and he wouldn’t feel alone while she did. “I… No,” he said after hesitating. “Not yet. It’s still too soon, I think. But… thank you.” He smiled weakly, looked down at the cloth, and offered it back to her. “I seem to have gotten this all wet somehow.”

Her white hair swayed as she shook her head and closed his fingers around it, her blue fingers stronger than they appeared as they squeezed his for a few seconds. “You keep it, okay? You might need it later.”

“Okay,” he nodded back, blushing a bit more as he realized how much the simple contact she was making with his hand helped to make him feel less alone.. “Was… Did you need something? Or was I scaring the other patrons?”

“Nothing like that,” she assured him with a smile, releasing his hand. “You just had another message from Port Control, asking why you hadn’t boarded your new ship yet. They forwarded it here like the other three since you’ve still got your com turned off.” She pulled a slim portable com unit from her apron and set it on the table. “I brought you the bar’s portable so you could answer them.”

Ascher supposed that he should reply this time. Sooner or later they were going to send some Security personnel to round him up, assuming that he was too drunk to manage the trip to his new billet on his own, and Thalok didn’t need that hassle. He opened the unit, letting the light from it illuminate his face as he tapped out a reply, assuring the Controller that he’d report for duty no later than 0345 the next morning – five hours from now – and still a full 12 hours before departure. Sending the message, he typed out another, authorizing the immediate transfer of his personnel effects to the ship, and sent that one as well.

“That should keep them happy,” he said, closing the portable. “Thanks.”

“You’re shipping out, then?” The disappointment was clear in her eyes.

“That’s what they tell me, anyway,” he conceded, leaning back into shadow again. “And since they get to tell me things like that…”

“You have to go,” she finished for him.

“Pretty much, yes.”

He’d need to pick some things up before reporting for duty, make stops at the stores that sold what he’d need that he had no faith the ship would have. Maybe even visit the free traders in port and see what they had brought in under the tariff radar. That was going to eat up most of the rest of his time here. That was a lot of shopping to do in a short time.

“I guess I’ll see you when you’re back in port, then,” Flera said, the words sounding like they’d been said too many times and she’d hoped for something different this once. She reached for the portable. “I’ll be sorry to see you go – we don’t get many like you in here; it was a nice change.”

They didn’t get many broken, desperately alone men who’d just lost everyone they knew and cared about for the second time in their lives? Ascher had to hope that was true; he’d hate to think that anyone else was feeling the way he was tight now. “You have a good place here,” he told her. “Exactly the kind that I needed to find. Thank you for taking care of me; I know I haven’t been the best customer – or company – the last week or so, but you’ve gone out of your way for me despite that and I appreciate it.”

She seemed surprised that he’d mentioned it. “You’re welcome. I hope that things are better for you when you make it back through again.”

“Me too,” he agreed. “Me too.” He watched her start to leave, looked down at the cloth under his hand, still warm from where she’d carried it in her pocket, thought about the stages of grief and how easy it was to talk to her and added, “Are you…?”

“Mmmn?” she turned back.

“Are you… off-shift soon?” Ascher asked, and then winced at the way the words had come out. “Okay, that was terrible. I sounded like I was trying to…. And that’s not what I meant…. And…” his face scarlet, he sighed. “I think I should just stop talking now.”

“If you stop talking now, Ash,” Flera prompted, turning back, “then you’ll never be able to explain what you were trying to say, will you?” Her pale blue eyes studied him. “So what were you trying to ask?”

“I…” Ascher looked up. What should he do? He needed to talk to someone, and Flera was, to all appearances, willing to listen. She wasn’t a professional counselor, but… she was here. Should he? “I have a lot of shopping to do before I report in,” he said slowly. “Enough that it’ll likely take the rest of the time before I report in… but I don’t know the port or where anything is; I’ve only been here and my bunk since I arrived. I was hoping - if you were free soon - that you could… help me? With the shopping,” he added quickly.

She studied him for a moment longer. “Just… shopping?”

“Just shopping,” he confirmed. “I’m not blind and…”

“I know that,” she chided him teasingly. “You keep being a gentleman and not looking when I give you the opportunity.”

“Umm… yes,” he agreed, wondering at what point the skin on his face would combust. “I’m not blind, and I am flattered and… I don’t want to insult you, or make you angry by this, but I can’t. Not that. Not now. It’s too soon.”

“Too soon since what’s making you ‘not do well’ happened?”

“Yes.” He looked down at the cloth she’d given him, and pressed it against his eyes again, one after the other, blotting away the tears that were trying to sneak out into the open.

Flera watched him, waiting for him to finish. “So really, just shopping?”

“Just shopping,” he nodded. “And… I think maybe I’ll talk for a bit, if you’re okay with that. I need to talk to someone and….”

“And?”

“And I’d rather talk to someone that offered to listen because they wanted to,” he explained. “As opposed to someone like a counselor that was just doing their job. That… makes a big difference. At least to me.”

A smile touched the woman’s dark blue lips, and she reached down to unfasten her apron, sending a wave of relief through Ascher. “I’m a good listener, Ash,” she assured him, setting the apron on the table. “And I’d be glad to listen if you wanted to talk while we shop.” She reached up and unfastened her hair, letting it fall down past her shoulders.

Ascher slid around the table and out of the booth. “You’re not going to get into trouble, leaving before your shift is over? I don’t want that.”

“Oh no,” she said, waving at Thalok and pointing to the apron on the table, “no trouble – my shift ended three hours ago.”

“Three…?” Ascher paused, looked at her, and then shook his head. “I feel worse now – in a different way,” he added when she turned back toward him sharply. “Normal stupid,” he reassured her, “as opposed, to, you know.” He held up the cloth he was still holding.

“Normal stupid is okay,” she said slipping an arm through his. “’You know’ would be bad.” As they passed Thalok’s position at the bar and he eyed Ascher with guarded suspicion, she waved at the bartender again, then added, “I’m thinking that you’re carrying about as much ‘you know’ as you can handle right now, and I don’t want to add any more to your load.”

Outside, she stopped to let Ascher slip the cloth in his hand into a pocket and then asked, “So what’re we shopping for? Something for the trip? I though the fleet issued you guys everything?”

“Everything normal, yes,” he nodded. “But not everything I need for the job.”

“So,” Flera asked, “what do you do that you need extra stuff?” She leaned close and whispered conspiratorially, “You’re not a spy, are you? Using me to provide your with camouflage while to pick up your secret gizmos and stuff?”

“No,” Ascher chuckled, as they started towards the elevator. “Nothing like that.”

“So what is it that you do, then, if you’re not a spy?” she asked. “If you don’t mind my asking?”

“I don’t.” And he didn’t, he realized, precisely because she’d asked for permission. It was only, as the words left his mouth, that he realized they were the same ones he’d used on New Vulcan, the same words he’d answered T’cre’s question with:

“I’m no one special – I’m just the cook.”

"Head Doctors"Edit

Lt. Jerry Wolfson
ACMO and Recreation Director

Lt. Kaori Lokai
Ship's Counselor

Counselor's Office USS Miranda

There was something about counselors that tended to set Jerry's nerves on edge. He regarded them as a necessary evil, and something he had to deal with semi-regularly given his past. It was something of a tradition for every newcomer to a ship to have a psychiatric evaluation by the ship's counselor. He was half-convinced it was because the counselor wanted to know what sort of trouble he or she was going to get into with the crew.

Then again, that was probably the right conclusion to reach. Didn't mean he liked it any better, though. Counselors were a strong reminder of that year after the Horizon disaster. Much easier to refer to it as that, rather than the day Emily... No. He wasn't going there.

Shaking his head, Jerry walked into the counselor's office. He was on time, at least according to his chrono, but there was apparently no-one here. "Hello?" he called.

Out came Kaori's head, her eyes peering over her desk, "Hi, I'm here. Sorry, I dropped something under my desk." She had heard the door open but she was slow getting up. "Take a seat anywhere." By way of elimination, she figured out who he was and brought up his file, "So Lieutenant, I find it interesting to find that your mother is,"She noticed that she was retired, "sorry, was a doctor, now retired but you originally went into Starfleet as an engineer. My mother is a doctor as well. She even served on the Miranda here. I would have followed in her footsteps but unfortunately, embarrassing as it is, I faint at the sight of blood." She didn't want to get into anything heavy yet, plus, she wanted him to feel comfortable with her first.

He nodded and picked a chair. Not too close, but not too far away. "Thanks. The sight of blood isn't for everyone." True enough, that. Blood he didn't have a problem with. Probably came from his youth and working with his hands so much. He'd cut himself rather often on this or that. If he'd a problem with blood, well, that didn't bear thinking about. "Your mum still practicing? Or has she retired?"

"Yes, she has about six more years before she retires. I really don't think that she will retire though. I think she likes working too much." Kaori looked down at her hands, "Working is all she's got. My adoptive father died when I was 18 and she has never married since.".

"My condolences," he said automatically. "I know how she feels."

"Thank you Lieutenant..."

"Jerry, please," he corrected her. "What would you like to know?"

"The first thing I'm sure that every Counselor asks you is about your first wife. I'd like to talk about your second wife and daughter. When she told you that she was divorcing you and then got custody of your child, I'm sure you were devastated. But what about now? Do you think that you have come to terms with it?"

A twitch of his lip, perhaps into a smile, was the only reaction Jerry gave to the mention of Helen. "Don't beat around the bush, do you? Don't have much choice, me. I miss Kenzie, but I can't change what happened. Helen's never denied me the chance to speak with my daughter or to see her. It's something I have to live with. 'Sides, Kenzie sees more of my parents now than I do. Helen likes having my parents watch her when she's off doing who knows what. I know she's in good hands with them."

"So what made you decide to become a doctor instead of an Engineer?" She already knew the answer but there was a reason behind it, as every question she asks.

"Ever watching someone die because no-one around you had more than field medic training?" Jerry asked, a trace of bitterness in his voice. "Thought it'd be good for me to do my best to make sure that nothing like that happened again. At least, not on my watch. 'Sides, not like I'm not doing engineering any more. I just tend to fix more people than I do machines now."

"I know you're referring to your first wife...Emily but she isn't the only reason, is she? There were others too that could have benefited from having a medic there." Yes, she said her name. She watched him closely as to his reaction. Her heart went out to him.

The smile that crossed his lips was completely mirthless. "I wasn't with Emily when she died," he admitted quietly. "She was on a different shuttle. I only found out that she'd died after we were rescued some fifteen hours after the Horizon was destroyed. Admittedly, I didn't believe the counselor who was sent in to tell me. I was too out of it thanks to the meds they were pumping me with while they tried to repair my plasma burns. It was another few hours before I believed the woman was telling me the truth."

"I didn't know that. But it's not surprising. You were in shock." She got up and sat on the edge of her desk, "I'm sure that you are probably tired of coming to the Counselor's office and the first thing they want to do is talk about her, so I'm going to get to the point. The last Counselor you saw wrote a note saying that you seemed to still have problems talking about her and her death. Now that more time has passed, do you find it easier to talk about her or about the same?"

Of course she'd ask that. He shook his head. "Seems to be a question you lot are fond of. Emily died. I wasn't there. Nothing more to it than that. What do you want me to say, Counselor? Not planning on sobbing on your shoulder if that's what you're after."

"Ouch." She got off her desk and poured herself some water, also offering him one, "Look, you are a doctor. You deal with death and more so as a Starfleet Officer. How you deal with death is important. You said yourself that you became a doctor because of what you saw and experienced. But you also had a loss that was very close to you. If you can't deal with your wife's death, how are you going to deal with someone dying, especially someone you closely work with? It's a possibilty."

He leaned back in his chair and looked at her, revealing nothing in his expression. "Not sure what you want from me, Counselor. I know that death is a possibility in my job. Seen it, too, actually. Had someone die on me on the Constellation. Had an enlisted bloke suffer from an aneurysm and we couldn't get to him in time. Just because I don't like talking about Emily's death, doesn't mean I can't handle death."

"But those patients that you have lost, were you close to them, like friends or were they acquaintances? It's a lot harder to deal with. I don't know how many times my mother had to go see a Counselor. She lost many close friends and she felt guilty about half of them with the biggest question of "what if." You may not like the questioning we do and what we focus on but there are reasons that we do. I don't make the rules, I just follow them.

Jerry nodded. "Fair enough. I know why you ask those questions. Instant I can't handle it, I assure you that I'll relieve myself of duty," he promised. "Been through a lot, me. Got some life behind me. You're not going to see me running screaming for the hills at the first hint of adversity."

"Fair enough." She sat back at her desk, "I guess we're through here. If you have nothing else that you'd like to discuss, you may go."

"I don't mean to be difficult, Counselor," he said, flashing her a truly genuine smile. "Just don't much like talking about some of my past. If I do lose someone here on the Miranda, I'll come speak with you."

"That's all I am asking." She smiled, "My door is always open."

"Thank you, Counselor. I'm sure I'll be seeing you around. Oh, there's a plan for a first night of the mission party on the Ledo deck. I hope I'll see you there," Jerry said, extending his hand.

She stood. "Thanks for telling me. I'll try to attend."

He nodded. "You're welcome, Counselor."

"Another Grueling Evaluation"Edit

Lt. Kaori Loki
Ship's Counselor

Ensign Steven Russell
Security Officer

Steven sat in the waiting area. He was down here for his regularly scheduled evaluation. Make sure he wasn't crazy. Well... more crazy then the standard person. He was pretty sure that anyone serving in Starfleet was crazy. One had to be, to come out here and risk everything for a paycheck. Plenty of corporate jobs back home that paid better and didn't need to add hazard pay.

But he liked the fleet, and to be in the fleet, he needed to get his head examined. So here he was... dreading it. He was most likely going to have to get a few drinks after the session.

One person went out and then Kaori stuck her head out, "Ensign Russell, please come on in." She stuck her head back in and sat down as she waited for him to enter. Once he did, she motioned to one of the chairs in her office. "Please have a seat."

Steven took the seat and bounced a little in it to get comfy.

Kaori had already read his report and so she didn't waste anymore time, "Shall we begin?" She didn't wait for him to answer, "I've read your old evaluation. You're not new to Counselors, are you?

"To say the least," Steven said. "They had a field day after the war, not to mention I may have gotten into a little trouble as a kid."

"Your parents were worried about your behavior so they made you seek counseling. When you look back, do you feel your parents did the right thing? I mean, if my parents did that to me, I would have been angry and resentful of the fact that they could do such a thing."

"Looking back? They were being parents. But I don't think it did much to help back then. It wasn't till I tried to become an officer in the Marine Corps did I realize I should have listened. I think the corps did more then the counselors ever did."

"I see. But you originally tried to get into the Corps as an officer. At the time, how upset were you? And now looking back, are you glad that you got in as a NCO?"

"Eh, looking back, I liked being an NCO. Got to have more fun than the officers. Plus I had fewer people to worry about," he said grinning.

"I guess so. You've been court-marshaled twice. And even though you were exonerated of the charges, you still got reprimands on your record for both."

Steven looked at her, "Where are you going with this? Don't tell me you are another shrink who thinks I am unfit for duty."

"Far from it. But if I told you where I was going with this, then what I'm looking for would be invalid. With that said, let's get back to the subject at hand." She continued, "Do you think the reprimands were deserving? I mean, you got one even though you didn't start the fight and the second one, well, if you hadn't disobeyed orders, the outcome could have been, well, you now how that turned out."

"No. I don't think anyone would ever think they deserve to have them."

"Okay, so if you think you don't deserve them, how DOES it make you feel? Do you resent them for their decision. If I didn't know better, it was almost like they were trying to make an example of you, maybe even trying to prove something."

"I don't like it and it doesn't surprise me that they tried to make an example of me. The corps doesn't like when things happen, they don't like. Even if the results proved positive, they like to remind everyone that their way is God's Word."

"Interesting." She entered something into her PADD, "Now let's talk about when you were injured. Tell me about how it happened."

"I was a Marine. It happens. Klingons don't play nice."

"No, they don't." She lowered her voice but within hearing range, "Short and sweet." Then she looked back at him, "Is that because you don't like talking about it?"

"I don't see why. It doesn't bother me one way or the other. Sure I was out of commission for a couple of months, away from my men, but it's part of the job. It happens. Could I have avoided it? Maybe."

Kaori nodded her head, "And now, you are a Starfleet officer in the Security department." Before he could answer, a chime went off and a young lady walked in after Kaori told her to enter. The girl apologized for the interruption but she had forgotten to leave a pitcher of water and glasses for the patients. She smiled at Steven and walked out as fast as she came in. Kaori continued her line of questioning without a recap,

"Do you think that everything that happened to you has given you a deeper insight to the job and people that you will be dealing with?"

Steven glared at the interruption, "the job? Yes. You learn stuff as an NCO you can't learn as an officer. You learn to connect with those under you. And as for the job? I don't know. I would say yes. Your in the trenches more then as an officer."

"I see." She entered one more thing into her PADD, "So what are your future goals?"

"I don't tend to think so far ahead. So, by tomorrow I still plan on being alive. But if I have to think more then a day ahead..." he trailed off as he thought. "I wouldn't mind rising through the ranks. Maybe get to work as part of the security staff for some big wig."

"Oh, okay." She sat there for a moment, looking at the notes that the other counselor wrote. "I guess that's all of the questions I have for you. Is there anything you want to discuss before we close this session?"

"Not that I can think of," Steven said standing.

Kaori also stood up and held out her hand, "Okay then. Thank you for coming in. If you ever need to talk, my door is always open."

Steven nodded and headed out. He was right, he was going to need a drink.

"An Informative Evening"Edit

Cdr Joral Anton, XO
LtCdr Cheyenne Summers, CFO/SO

After Jordan left, Cheyenne headed back to her office. She dropped the PADD on her desk, scattering several pencil files across the surface, and dropped into her chair. She thought about what Jordan had said about the captain and XO. She'd met with the captain previously, but maybe it would be a good idea for her to meet with the XO. After all, she was the second officer. She was sure that Captain Elaithin would bring him up to date on the refit and crew transfers, but she needed to meet with him anyway. It might be best for her to wait for a meeting request from him, but she was burning with curiosity about this man that had a history with the inestimable K. Jordan Lankin. She wanted to know why he had tried to kill her.

She turned to her console and punched up the combination to Commander Joral's office.

Joral, meanwhile, was not entirely conscious, owing to a lack of sleep, overwork in his first day aboard, and a healthy draw of scotch. Thus it was that his head was on his desk, right beside the small speaker that emitted the rather harsh whistle to indicate an intra-ship call. In his hasty bolt upright, his hand slipped and hit the "accept" button, which unfortunately coincided with him uttering a rather startled and harsh curse.

Rubbing the ridges of his nose and attempting to remember where he was, Joral managed to mumble a barely coherent, "Yeah?" before looking at his comm screen and noticing that the face of Cheyenne Summers looking back at him.

Several choice curses ran through the XO's head, who had the sense not to look down at his uniform and check the state of it. Shaking off the feeling of vulnerability that came with the rude awakening, he inquired, "Yes, 'Commander? What can I do for you?"

Cheyenne was taken aback as the face of the executive officer appeared on the screen in front of her, looking disheveled, creased, asleep, and irritated. Having profanity be the first thing out of his mouth certainly didn't help matters. She raised her eyebrow at him. "Commander Joral. I certainly hope that I'm not interrupting... anything. I just wanted to schedule a meeting with you, at your convenience, of course."

Joral cleared his throat, surreptitiously pushing the empty scotch glass out of the field-of-view. "Certainly, 'Commander. We can meet right now if you want, right..." - there was a hesitation in his voice as he looked around at the state of his office and realized that he had yet to unpack - "...wherever," he finished.

Cheyenne bit her lip to keep from smiling, then nodded gravely. "All right. Would you like to come here to my office? Perhaps somewhere else?"

Joral briefly considered suggesting the bar - he could do with another drink - but he couldn't be entirely sure that Summers hadn't seen the bottle already. It wouldn't do for his highest-ranking subordinate to think he was a drunk. This train of thought brought him around to his stomach, and the unpleasant realization that nothing really tangible was inhabiting it. That being realized, he then considered the mess, until he realized that he was unfamiliar with any of the cooks there, and had little trust in their skills as of yet. Looking at the chronometer, he remembered that he had been off-duty by the time the bottle had been brought out, and there was literally no reason that he shouldn't return to his quarters to get something to eat.

It was then that he realized that, in his musings, he had left 'Commander Summers waiting on the open-channel for well over a minute.

Shaking his head rapidly to clear his thoughts, Joral stuttered out, "Apologies, 'Commander. I could use a bite to eat, actually. How about you meet me at my quarters in about ten minutes?"

"Well, if you're hungry, we could always go the mess hall," Cheyenne offered.

"Actually, 'Commander, being the XO has certain perks. Namely, I managed to get my own kitchen."

"Something to look forward to when I become an XO, I guess," she replied with a smile. She looked down around her desk and decided that there was nothing absolutely pressing for her to do. There were some new transfers to the department that she needed to meet with, but that was going to have to wait until later. "All right, Commander, I'll be there in 10 minutes."

Joral ran a hand through his hair and nodded. "I suppose I should figure out what to cook then."

"See you then." With that, Cheyenne ended the call. She picked her PADD and started looking through the files on it, grabbing a couple of pencil files to download to it before she left.

++++++++++

"...means the gunners are pretty much on their own refitting the weapons systems with all the engineers tied up on the slipstream," Joral finished, setting aside the PADD and his empty plate. "More wine, 'Commander?"

"Yes, please," she replied, holding out her empty glass in his direction. "There is still a glitch in the deflector array that the are trying to chase down, causing the particle counts to be way off. Hopefully, that'll get resolved quick-ish." She took a bite of her food. She still had some left on the plate, but was rapidly slowing down. Dinner had been delicious, and she didn't have much more room. Even her big toes were full.

"Well, I'll do the rounds in the morning, meet with all the department heads, let them get to know and/or fear the new XO, all of that. Only West has ever actually met me, and I doubt he's going to fear me exactly."

"Really... Why wouldn't he fear you? Is it cause he's... you know?" she asked him curiously, putting down the fork in defeat. She set her elbows on the table and leaned forward.

"I'm certain the Doctor's rather... unique bedside manner is part of it, but mostly its because he's already been poking around in my brain, removing giant slugs, that sort of thing," Joral answered. "Besides, I got him the job in the first place."

"Re-heally. I guess I should make the effort to meet him," she mused. "Maybe some of the other senior staff as well. I think that everyone is started to get into the swing of things, could be interrupted by the chief flight officer. You know, maybe we should just have a mixer, that way we can get it done all at once." She took a small sip of wine. "So, Commander, can I ask you a question?"

Joral was hard-pressed to keep his eyebrow from climbing his forehead. "Feel free to ask, 'Commander. I can't promise an answer you'll like."

"I take it you know the captain from before this posting? Can I ask how you know him?"

"You may ask, but I doubt I'll ever give you more of an answer than this; I know him from here and there, we've known each other as long as I can recall, and I tend to have a weakness for anyone who is nice to my baby sister. Does that satisfy your curiosity?"

"Not really, but you did warn me," she replied with a smile. "I guess the main thing I want to know is what kind of a guy he is. He seems to be a pretty decent type so far, but then, I haven't interacted with him all that much. I figured, get the skinny from someone in the know, you know?"

A smirk played out on Joral's face for a moment. "Some human idioms still escape me, but I get your drift. That being said, Jii and I both tend to keep our cards close to the vest. It is, shall we say, a common trait you'll find among our brethren."

"Uh-huh, uh-huh," she said, nodding in agreement. "And what about the intel officer?" 'Subtly, thy name is not Cheyenne,' she misquoted to herself.

The humor disappeared from Joral's eyes. "Let's just say it involves a bed and a hypospray..." there was a pause while Joral took a healthy sip of wine, draining his glass. "And a murder attempt or two..." At which point he refilled the glass. "And a judge..." Another large sip, "And the Old Man." He drained his glass for the second time.

Cheyenne eyed him for a second, watching as he drained his glass. "Point taken, Commander," she said softly, finishing up her own wine and setting down the glass. "Well, might I say, Commander, it has definitely been an... informative evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the food. It was nice to be able to sit down and get to know you a little bit more. Should make working together a lot easier. You don't have any invasive, probing, gotta-know-right-now questions for me, do you? And that really wasn't meant to sound dirty."

Joral's brain momentarily froze, and he found himself needing a moment to catch up. "Yeah, because 'invasive' and 'probing' could never possibly sound dirty..." Certain images clashed in his head, and he spent several seconds trying to shake them off for the sake of professionalism, then simply gave it up as a bad job. "But no, 'Commander, I think that anything I need to know about you, I'll find out it the usual manner." Only after he said it did he realize the implications of that statement.

"Hunh. Well, alrighty then," she replied with a bemused smile on her face. "I guess on that note, I'll just... get... going." She stood up. "Yeah. It was nice to get to know you, Commander. I look forward to working with you."

Joral took the cue and stood himself, realizing that he had probably sounded more than a bit dismissive, and completely unsure about how to change that. "Certainly, 'Commander. Right, I likely won't need a status report from you tomorrow, so I suppose that, well, I'll see you tomorrow... or I won't I suppose I meant to say... I will see you soon, I'm certain."

Several part of Joral's mind raged at him for the fact that he sounded like the ship's doctor for reasons passing understanding.

Cheyenne headed towards the door to his quarters. "Man, this should be interesting," she muttered under her breath.

"The Rounds, Part 1 - Engineering"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Lieutenant Jamus Jaxom, Chief Engineer

From the upper railing of the Miranda's cavernous engineering section, the ship's tall Bajoran XO looked out over the chaos that couldn't even begin to be described as "organized". Grumbling to himself, Joral pondered appropriate curses for the bureaucratic nightmare that was Starfleet. There were at least plenty of personnel performing the refit down here, but with the chief engineer having only been informed of mere existence of the slipstream production model days after he was supposed to be doing his job, it was nothing short of a miracle that anything had gotten done at all, never mind that it was about the only section where things were on time.

He heard someone coming up beside him, and took a sidelong glance at the Trill man in coveralls walking up beside him. He assumed that this was Jaxom, and turned towards him, nodding politely in greeting. "Lieutenant."

"Commander," Jamus greeted the ship's first officer in kind. Despite how busy the chief engineer had been his coveralls were as clean as when he put them on that morning. No one knew how he did it, he just stayed clean. The only clue Jamus had done anything was the bit of grease under his fingernails and that would soon be rectified.

"I have to say," the XO said, "I'm pretty damn impressed by how far you've gotten considering."

"Thanks," Jamus accepted the compliment humbly. "Of course, it was a lot easier to get things done once we knew what we were dealing with," he added referring to the slipsteam drive. "We're hoping to ignite the core in two or three days and do a ship wide power systems check. I want to see how much of a load normal ship operations will have without being tied to the station."

"And if I told you that you have about..." Joral paused to check the chronometer on his wrist, "eighteen hours to finish that?"

Jamus whipped out a PADD from his back pocket and made a few computations. "If we change around some of the work schedule I think we can do it ten." He looked back to Anton, "Quick enough?"

"I can't say for certain," the XO responded, "but I don't like us sitting here without operable engines, so I want to know it can be done if we have to burn out of here in a hurry."

"Are there pressing matters we need to attend to then?" Jaxom asked curiously.

"Look, Lieutenant," Joral said, "I'm not trying to pressure your people or anything, but I'm an Operations man myself; I'm naturally suspicious of engineers' time estimates. If you want to test the ship's self-sustenance, power her up and cut her loose from the station umbilicals. We can't exactly warp out of here while we're moored down like this, but come on, you should be able to get a decent enough read of her consumption from that.

Jamus' eyes narrowed. The Trill knew his craft and he didn't like the fact that the commander was seeming to doubt his abilities. "I'm gettin' the feeling you don't have a lot of faith in me or my crew's abilities. If you want, we can fire'r right now and see how far we get but I'm tellin' ya, there're other systems that aren't quite ready for that yet. As an 'operations man' you already know that all of the ship's various systems work together. You can't run on one alone as you seem to be suggestin'... unless of course I've misunderstood your meanin'."

"Lieutenant, I'm hardly questioning your abilities - that would imply that I hadn't read your entire dossier from beginning to end." This was a minor exaggeration on Joral's part. He hadn't had the time to fully read any of the crew dossiers, and in fact had only gotten through the topsheets of about half of the senior officers He knew postings, major commendation, and disciplinary records, and that was about all. All he knew about the chief engineer was the man's service years and previous postings and what little Jii had told him this morning when they had a quick meal together before trading the watch.

"However," he continued, "That doesn't mean I have faith in anyone until I see for myself what they can accomplish." He pulled out the small PADD that he typically kept pocketed and called up the system diagnostics subroutine on its small screen. "If your progress continues as projected, then in twelve hours, you should be able to block the station power umbilicals, spool up the secondary fusion reactors, and at least run test cycles on all of the non-warp and non-slipstream systems, as well as get an idea of the over-all powerload the systems are going to pull. If we can't power her other systems without the primaries, then I'd hardly consider her spaceworthy anyway."

"The captain told to go over her with a fine toothed comb Commander and that's what we've been doing. 'And' that takes some time if its to be done properly," Jaxom answered.

"I know that's what he said, Lieutenant." Joral did his best to hide his exasperation. "But let me tell you something about Elaithin Jii. He wants what he asks for twice as fast as he asks for it. And let me tell you, he gets what he wants, pretty much every time. He doesn't have to come down hard on anybody. That's what he pays me for."

One of Jamus' eyebrows rose a notch, "That's what 'all' ex-ohs are paid for. You don't need to be remindin' me of that. The Captain will get what he wants from me and that'll be a ship that can perform."

"Oh, I'm certain of that, Mr. Jaxom." Joral glanced at the chrono on his wrist. "However, I assure you that it's nothing personal when I tell you that I'll be on your back until that very moment. And for the record, most XO's don't excel at this quite so much as I do. Now, if you'll pardon me, I have other meetings to attend to."

The XO walked off without a further word, thinking to himself that he certainly failed in the impression he was shotting for.

'My back indeed... nothing personal my eye,' Jamus thought watching the XO walk away. His eyes were still narrowed in what was as close to anger the Trill could manage. He would have been angry if he didn't have more pressing matters to deal with. 'What a prick.'

"Jenkins!" he hollered at his de facto assistant when MacRae was busy elsewhere. The petty officer came to Jaxom's side. "I need to give a message to MacRae for me. We need to start up the core sooner than we thought..."

"The Rounds, Part 2 - CIC"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Lieutenant Nathan Everett, Chief Tactical Officer

The Miranda's CIC was, quite frankly, hectic as all hell. He had expected that, even if the purpose of his visit was to check progress on the refit. Aside from the slipstream installation, the weaponry refit was the largest onboard, and with all of the ship and yard engineers occupied with the former, the Tactical personnel were left on their own for the latter. As such, they were, to put it politely, somewhat behind, and the XO was therefore unsurprised to see so many personnel who were obviously on their second or third consecutive shifts.

Unfortunately, it also meant that finding the ship's tactical chief in the sea of gold was going to be no easy task.

Fortunately for Anton, the man he'd come for chose that very moment to notice that one of his work squads seemed to be having trouble managing their tasks, and started making his way across the room to set them straight

"C'mon, people, these guns ain't gonna upgrade 'emselves!" Nathan urged as his long legs started to carry him across the CIC, the big New Texan effortlessly dodging past other scrambling goldshirts as he crossed the floor. "The grease monkeys're tied up on the engine modifications, so it's up to us to get this--"

He stopped as an unfamiliar face passed his peripheral vision, and quickly turned to face the newcomer. "Oh," he said, blinking in surprise. "Commander...Joral, right?" Nathan winced inwardly; he remembered about the Bajoran name reversal when he'd spoken with Captain Elaithin earlier, but had almost slipped this time.

Joral raised his eyebrow at the hesitation, but let it slip - having lacked the time to read the crew dossiers yet, he knew nothing more than the Tactical officer's name, so it was hardly his place to comment on hesitation. Glancing at the PADD in his hand, he quickly reminded himself of what it was he had been planning to say when he got lost in the sheer magnitude of the crowd.

Taking the Lieutenant's proffered hand, Joral replied, "Mr. Everett, this is probably not the best introduction ever, and for that I'm sorry. I'm impressed so far, but your people have fallen way behind on realigning the actuator crystals in the starboard pulse array. Frankly, I don't like the idea of moving this ship away from the station without her offensive weaponry ready to rock."

"Yeah, me neither," Nathan replied casually as he looked back at his staff. "This'd be goin' a lot faster if we had a little help from the engineers, though."

"Look, Lieutenant, Engineering's backlogs aren't your problem. If they aren't meeting your power requisitions, talk to Lieutenant Winters and see if Ops can task a little more your way under the table. If that doesn't work you come see me, but I'm going to tell you then what I'm going to tell you now - as long as you're not shutting down anything else, just steal the power you need. Don't let me catch you doing it, and you should be just fine."

Nathan turned to face Joral again, giving the smaller man a questioning frown. "You sure that's alright?"

Leaning forward on the console, Joral looked the other man square in the eye. "I don't care what it takes, Mr. Everett. Get everything running. I want that starboard popgun rocking in eighteen hours, clear?"

Nathan blinked, more surprised than intimidated by the intensity of the XO's demeanor. He wondered if the Bajoran was always like this, or if it was just a show he liked to put on in front of his subordinates. He shrugged it off mentally and answered Joral with a confident smile. "Me and mah folks'll get the job done, Boss. Don't worry 'bout it."

It was all the XO could do to keep his eyebrows from climbing into his hairline - this was pretty much the first positive response he'd gotten all damn day, and he was naturally suspicious. That being said, if one of the ship's senior officers was going to be agreeable to his admittedly combative personality, who was he to argue. Nodding, he said, "Understood, Lieutenant. I'll not keep you any longer. Please give me status reports every three hours, and if you need anything between now and then, simply scream."

"You got it," Nathan agreed with a sharp nod. "Thanks fer stoppin' by, sir. Maybe once we're all caught up and the Miranda's spaceborne, we can have a more official meetin'."

The tall Bajoran simply nodded and left the room.

Nathan watched as Joral left the CIC, and sensed Ensign Hatfield come up behind him a moment later.

"Wow," breathed an astonished Hatfield. He'd heard the rumors about Commander Joral, and couldn't believe the lack of confrontation he'd just not-witnessed. "How'd you do that, sir?"

Nathan grinned. "Trade secret, Pete. When in doubt, tell 'em what they wanna hear." He gave the ensign a pat on the back and turned to face the chaos once again. "C'mon. Let's get back to work."

"The Rounds, Part 3 - Operations Center"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Lieutenant Richard Winters, Operations Manager

Entering the Operations Center of the Miranda gave Joral an unexpected pain of longing. Unlike most areas of any given ship, which tend to take on their own custom flavor over the years, Operations Centers somehow tended to remain fairly close between sister ships. Thus it was he walked into an area that looked almost exactly like the very one that he lad relinquished mere days earlier. To top things off, this one was now under the command of someone with an equally tarnished reputation insofar as disciplinary issues. Of course, in Joral's current position, he wasn't entirely certain that was a comforting thought.

This meeting was either going to end with Joral finding a man with whom he could get along quite well, or whom he wanted to toss out the nearest airlock. One way or the other, he was certainly not sure if he could avoid the territorial feeling that stepping into this chamber engendered in him.

Still smarting somewhat from what had taken place at the operations center at Starfleet Headquarters, Winters had boarded the Miranda a little deflated. Why it was he and not Sobel that was sent away would be a mystery that he would contemplate on for years to come. Still, he had found the Operations staff on the Miranda to be beyond what he had expected and as a result, was able to throw himself into the work, putting behind those unpleasant feelings while he was on duty.

As he looked up from a console he had been inspecting, he caught the XO standing in the operations center, no doubt checking in on the new Chief of Operations. He couldn't blame him. He'd have done the same in his position, especially under the circumstances that he had come over on.

"Commander," he called out, "to what do I owe this great pleasure?" He smiled.

Winters was an easy man to get a long with - so long as the people around him respected their training and did their jobs. He wasn't in the business of sending men and women out to get killed and is was the officers who crapped out on their training that caused that to happen that he didn't like.

Joral was, as ever, holding a PADD in his hand. Looking down at it rather than at his subordinate, he said "I have here a notation from an old Academy classmate of mine." His face twisted into a sardonic grimace. "Well, when I say notation, I really mean it's more of a warning. It reads simply, 'Richard Winters is unfit to wear the uniform. Don't trust him, Anton. Sobel.'"

Winters could feel his face getting red and his ears started to warm. The guy just never quit! What he had against him, he wasn't sure, but this little stunt smacked of revenge for the dressing down that Commodore Sink had given him for trying to court martial Winters. "That no good..." he began.

Holding up a hand to cut off the operations manager's ire, the Bajoran said, "Calm down, Lieutenant. Herbert Sobel is a pompous jackass who no one should ever trust with more than a ledger and a pen that's already been emptied of ink. The fact that he calls me by my given name without permission is indication enough of that. I just don't like hiding things of that nature from the officers they concern."

Winters nodded in appreciation. "Thank you for that, sir. I suppose I have some strong feeling where he's concerned. The court martial was his doing based on an unfair set of requirements he had placed on me."

"Yes, well, I'm no stranger to military injustice. If you ever want to discuss it, feel free to come to me. I daresay I'll be a damn sight more helpful than some damnable shrink."

Joral was more than a tad confused at his own demeanor. He wasn't a kind ear, nor a sympathetic shoulder, so why in the hell had he just offerred to be? Clearing his throat, he changed tacks. "Now, the refit." There was a soft clicking as he tapped a pair of buttons on the PADD, and the screen flipped to his progress reports. "I've given both engineering and tactical eighteen hours to have us ready to rock, so your people are going to have to be pretty much tied to their boxes. I've given orders to cut loose from the station umbilicals in twelve to prove she can operate all her non-engine systems independently, and I've pretty much got the two departments fighting over resources, so it looks like you're going to be playing mediator all day... sorry about that. Anyway, are you cleared on the slipstream systems yet?"

"Unfortunately, I'm not yet," Winters quickly replied. "Apparently when one signs a document stating he wishes a trial by court martial, suddenly necessary paperwork starts to take a lot longer than it should."

The XO pursed his lips. "Yeah, I thought that the disciplinary measures were going to slow your security clearance down some. But hell, you're ops... just get into the system and hack out your own clearance. We don't have time to waste waiting for the pencil-pushers. I'll get into the system later and provide you with some cover, make it look nice and legit."

Winters smiled. He was going to like this XO. "Thank you, sir. It is much appreciated. I've been felling like my hands are tied at every step. She'll be ready to launch on time, that I can promise you, even if I have to order the Operations department out in EV suits to get out and push. The ships got a good crew and as much as the circumstances that brought me here were not the best, but being here for me in the long run is going to be a good thing."

Joral's eyebrow went up at the unexpectedly positive response, but decided it would be best not to question the matter too much. Merely nodding, he shook the Operations Manager's hand and exited the room.

"The Rounds, Part 4 - Sickbay"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Lieutenant Dr. Robert West, Chief Medical Officer

A rare smile graced the features of the Miranda's XO as he stood in the door of the ship's sickbay, watching the slender nervous young man in blue terrorizing the surrounding medical staff. Most of the orderlies were obviously unsure of what he wanted them to do, and the nurses quite frankly looked irritated as hell.

Walking up behind the ship's chief medical officer, Joral made a small throat-clearing noise. In the case of this particular officer, he thought that maybe his typical method of silently slipping up behind someone and promptly scaring the hell out of them by announcing his presence would probably not be the best idea; the doctor was jumpy enough as it was.

As if altered to his presence by some sixth sense, Robert turned and faced the XO.

"Commander? Is ThereSomethingICanHelp you with? You know...you LookALittleFamiliar...."

"The captain did mention that you didn't quite remember me, doc, but hell, I figured you'd at least remember removing an inert Ceti Eel from my brain stem."

Joral saw the recognition cross the doctor's face, and smirked. That Ceti Eels didn't have the mind-controlling effects on Bajorans was long known. However, before one had been forced into Joral's ear and later removed by West, no Bajoran had ever survived either the extraction procedure or the Eel's growth cycle, so it was a pretty moot point.

Robert's smile widened at once.

"Joral! Yes of course! I RememberItVeryWellThatWas some of my best work. Are you HereToTakeYourEvaluation I can get that started immediately if you'll JustStepThisWay...."

Joral held up his hands quickly, stopping the doctor in his tracks. "Hold it, Doc. I'm not here for a physical, and I think the whole ship now knows what happens when you miss the signal on that one..."

The doctor adopted a momentary puzzled expression, which then seemed to darken slightly.

"Jordan." he replied with a rare one-word sentence.

"Nice to see your memory for incapacitation is better than your memory for the external parts of your patients' anatomies." The XO pulled out his increasingly-abused PADD, and mentioned off-handedly while tracking down the relevant report, "Though, in your defense, you're hardly the first person to go for the woman's neck with a hypo, though, admittedly, you are unique in that you weren't trying to kill her."

"I haven't been ReprimandedOrAnythingHave I?"

"Don't worry about it, Doc. Jordan's no bigger about the Uniform Code than I am." Joral sat down n the edge of a biobed. "So the rest of the ship is having supply nightmares that are driving me around the bend, and the last thing I want is for us to go burning out of here with nothing more than band-aids and aspirin to treat, say, Ceti Eel infestations."

Robert's smile returned, wider than before, as did his zesty tone,"Of course, of course, WeHaveNearlyFinishedRecievingThe supplies from the starbase, in fact. I will be personally GoingThroughTheChecklistToEnsure that nothing was left out....as soon as I can finish all these physicals, that is. I'm QuiteLookingForwardToTheCruise to be honest, I'm hoping we might happen upon some unknown life that I can dissect!"

He said the last part with a sort of childish glee that seemed jarringly inappropriate for the subject matter before becoming lost in happy thoughts about the kinds of things he would get to cut into, given the chance.

The Bajoran raised an eyebrow. "Doc, I feel like I should ask a couple of things. First of all, have you even been on a starship since your cadet cruise?"

"No, no. Starfleet Medical felt ItWouldBeBestToKeepMeNear headquarters, something about patient relation issues." Robert answered, no less brightly than before.

"Oookaay... right. Secondly, you are going to make sure that whatever you're cutting into is dead before slicing, yes?"

If Robert was the sort that were inclined to laugh he would have, "Yes, yes, of course Commander. I PromiseThatIWillMakeAbsolutely Sure of it before I perform any autopsies."

"Right then, I suppose that's about all I can ask for, Doc." Joral tapped a few more keys on the PADD. "Is there anything you need me to get you before I go intimidate another senior officer?"

The doctor seemed to consider this for a moment, but shook his head.

"Once I've HadAChanceToCheckThe supply list, everything will be ready to go."

Joral nodded, glad that some parts of his day were falling in order. "Well then, I'll move on, Doc." The XO stood, heading towards the door. He turned at the entrance. "Oh, and Doc?"

Robert looked at him quizzically.

"Try not to scare your staff, too badly, alright?"

The only reply he received was a wide, bright grin.

TOO wide.

"The Rounds, Part 5 - Goat Locker"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Master Chief Petty Officer T'Shani sh'Akledor, Chief of the Boat

Like even the greenest of ensigns, Joral knew better than to walk into the Goat Locker unannounced. Indeed, for the most part, he knew better than to walk in there at *all*, and had he held any post aboard the Miranda other than that he did, he would have never even considered it. However, with the day he'd been having, he really hadn't cared less that he was intruding on the sanctity of the NCOs.

~In retrospect,~ he thought to himself, ~I may have been in error.~

Taking the towel proffered by a nearby senior gunner's mate, he waved off the apologies of the clearly newly-promoted chief signalman who - not knowing the identity of the intruding grey-shoulder - had moments before threw a nearly-full glass of ale in the XO's face.

Wiping his face when turning the corner towards the CMC's office, Joral wasn't paying enough attention and ran straight into someone. He heard a feminine grunt and the sound of someone falling, and he pulled the towel down to see a very attractive gold-shirted Andorian sprawled on the deck.

Cursing quietly, Joral held out a hand to help her up. "Sorry about that, Chief." It was only when the blue hand wrapped around his own that he noticed the trio of stars and gold piping on her sleeve, and found himself looking into an unfamiliar face. He immediately cursed himself for not looking up the CMC's file before heading belowdecks.

Immediately, Joral was surrounded by several of the non-coms who had been taking their dog watch meal in the CPO's Mess. Two of them were rather large and strapping, while the third was a more diminutive Caitian yeoman.

"Can we...hrrrmmm, *help* you, Commander?" the Caitian purred, and not in the normally pleasant way. There was just enough underlying growl to her tone to indicate that, while she wasn't being insubordinate to a superior officer, she was nonetheless very unhappy with the egregious breach in protocol.

Joral suppressed the urge to roll his eyes - after his encounter with the ship's chief science officer, he'd had quite enough of over-grown housecats for one day - and looked at the chief in question. "Frankly, chief, I don't think that..."

"Ma'am, I am *so* sorry!" another voice quickly interjected, cutting Joral off. Once CPO Nosphenthris Ra-Nees - the Efrosian chief signalman who had "greeted" Joral with the cold-ale shower moments before - had seen the Commander run head-long into the CMC, he had come running. "The Commander just came in here, and--"

"What the *frak* is going on here!?" a loud bellow - no, *roar* - came from behind the quickly-growing congregation. "Stand aside!" it commanded, followed quickly by, "Make a gorram-damned hole, NOW!"

Instantly, the congregation split down the middle like a molozipper. At one end was the unceremonious scene of Joral and Tish - still half-sitting/half-standing with Joral assisting her up - while at the other end was the clearly pissed-off, *massive* form of the Miranda's Chief Boatswain's Mate, SCPO Lorem gim Glorrak.

"Uh...B-B-Boats," Ra-Nees began trying to explain to the (literally) red-faced Tellarite chief bos'n. "I tried to stop--"

"CAN it, Mister!" Glorrak growled, his lower tusks jutting from curled-back lips. His beady-black eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets, threatening to jump out of the Chief Boats's sockets and physically attack *anyone* who dared interrupt him. "If I *want* you to talk, Chief Signalman, I will order it, do you understand me?!"

"Ah, y-yes, Sir," Thris managed to reply, weakly. He looked down at his boots, not wanting to challenge Boats's menacing stare. Deafening silence lingered in the air as Glorrak shoved passed Joral, and bodily hauled the Master Chief into a (more proper) standing configuration. Once he'd made sure she was uninjured, he tacitly spun on his hoof (an interesting manuevor to watch a Tellarite to do), looked the Commander over from head-to-toe once, and poked a thick, porcine finger into his chest.

"And *you*!" he growled with his best, practiced drill-instructor throat-shout, "I don't care if you're the gorram-damned President of the frakkin' Federation, you don't just traipse in here, unannoun--"

"Stand down, Boats," Master Chief T'Shani sh'Akledor finally spoke up from behind, placing a firm hand on the Tellarite officer's red shoulderboard. "I can take it from here."

Joral was beginning to get more than a little exasperated, but knew better than to open his mouth until the Andorian woman was finished speaking to her charges, rank or no, though frankly he would have preferred she'd spoken up a hell of a lot sooner.

"With all due respect, the Commander here needs a lesson in mess *ettiquette*, sir," Boats retorted.

"And I will *discuss* the issue with the XO," she nodded an antenna toward Joral, then paused, letting the implication of his rank sink in. Immediately, a few of the lingering NCOs shuffled back to the messhall. "Perhaps you and Yeoman M'Rel," she flipped a blue antenna in the Caitian's direction, "can look over those requisition updates I sent you, this morning."

Though formed as a calm - and polite - request, Boats knew better than to countermand the obvious order of get-the-hell-out-of-here-and-let-me-deal-with-this.

"Aye, sir!" Glorrak saluted Tish, and she saluted back. "All right, you ape-swingers," he bellowed. "You heard the Master Chief, get the FRAK out of here! Fallout! NOW NOW NOW!" A flurry of motions quickly cleared the corridor of everyone, leaving one clearly displeased Andorian CMC and one brass-balled XO.

"You came to *see* me, Sir?" the shen asked, ice in her voice.

"As a matter of fact, yes I did, Chief." The XO's voice was polite and genial - not an easy feat for a man who, after the day he'd had, loathed pretty much everyone and everything. However, it seemed tactically sound, considering his unchracteristically less-than-stealthy entrance. "I've spent the day doing the rounds of the senior officers, threatening them, unfairly questioning their fitness, the usual, and I figured I might as well end the day with the person who I know is actually going to get the work done."

Tish paused, slightly thrown off-kilter. ~Threatening...questioning...?~ she mentally asked, wondering what kind of XO they had been sidled with. At least with Commander M'Brek, the last XO, you knew exactly where he stood, and what he expected. Already, Tish was realizing that Anton was somewhat of a loose-cannon.

"Jii already told me this morning that he found you yesterday buried in the sensory," Joral contined. "So, I hardly have any illusions about your fitness, Chief. Besides, the Old Man sings your praises, albeit as off-key as his singing usually is."

T'Shani couldn't tell if that was just a compliment, or not. ~What an odd man,~ she couldn't help thinking, though she kept silent through his rant. She figured she'd have her turn, when it came.

"In all honesty, Chief, I have no real contact with the ratings. Yes, I have a yeoman and my own steward, but since neither of them is aboard yet, my only contact with the crew thus far has been as an audience while I made their bosses all hate my guts. The chief back on Prospero had a pretty good relationship with me, and frankly, I'd like to keep up the trend. It's worked well so far."

Joral had managed to maintain eye contact throughout this whole speech, which was an impressive feat considering appearance of the woman standing in front of him - still, he noted, with her hands on her hips.

Tish did her best to control the emotions running through her, and tried to keep them from running across her face. Still, Joral couldn't help but feel like a Drakkian Lionfly, pinned open on a dissection tray, under her gaze. Her face remained impassive, but tight, lips pursed and her striking, yellow-gold eyes searching him like a targeting array. Her antennas swayed back and forth - front to back - an obvious sign she was trying to figure out exactly how to handle the XO and his...introduction.

"Follow me, XO," she said, her voice low and not-quite menacing. There was enough politeness in her tone to be defferential to his rank, but enough steel in it to let him know that he didn't really have any other option. Turning on her heel, she began marching down the hall, toward her personal office.

With a decidedly amused smirk, Joral followed, figuring he might as well admire the view as they went. He knew better than to screw with the NCOs, but the reality was that he had no real concerns for either his safety or whether any orders he would give would be obeyed.

The two walked into the CMC's office, and Joral reflected with more than a little irritation that it was nicer than his. Then again, his was currently full of unpacked shipping containers.

"Truly sorry to barge in on you like this, Chief, but quite frankly, I'm rather pressed for time, and with the engineering crews and gun crews on my deadline of eighteen--" he glanced at the chrono on his wrist, "Sorry, *fifteen* hours to get this baby up-and-running to spec, I don't have the luxury of niceities."

"Understood, Commander," was all Tish said as she leaned her tall, lithe frame against the edge of her workdesk. "Sit down, Sir," she said, genially motioning to the facing chair.

Holding in an exasperated sigh, Joral dropped into the chair, reminding himself that this was, after all, her office.

"Now," she continued, twisting her upper body around so that she could reach something under the back side of her desk (and giving Joral an eyefull of not only her impressively lean, but also impressively *flexible* body...), "I appreciate you taking time to introduce yourself. As you know," she paused again, turning back toward him, producing a uniquely-shaped decanter of purplish-amber liquid and two small tumbler glasses, "you and I will be working..." her antennas drooped slightly forward, "closely."

Doing his best to try to avoid the obvious debate in his mind between Starfleet fraternization rules and the Chief's implications, and also deciding to avoid the 'I'm on duty' excuse, Joral slid the drink over, hoping that it would turn into scotch miraculously upon touching his lips.

"So, a *toast*, Commander," she quickly said, leaning back again, one hand behind her, propping herself up on the desktop. "To my new XO, and our new *working* relationship." She held her glass forward, waiting for him to acknowledge her toast with the traditional *clink!*.

Tish quickly tossed the brandy back. It was the full-strength hootch, not the watered-down stuff. Her eyelids fluttered, momentarily as the liquid warmed its way down her throat, into her stomach. A luxuriant - yet demure - smile crept across her face as her antennas curled slightly at the pleasant sensation. "Mmm..." she couldn't help but verbalize.

Taking a deep breath and deciding it was best to get it over with, Joral shot the drink back and managed to avoid the traditional flinch.

~Not bad. Not bad, at all,~ Tish thought, as Joral finally threw his own drink down his gullet. He grimaced, slightly. Most Bajorans (and come to think of it, humans, too) didn't particularly care for the tast of Saurian Brandy. It was definitely an 'acquired' taste, at that. Still, he'd passed her test...for now.

Tish reached for his tumbler, momentarily wrapping her seemingly-delicate (yet surprisingly strong) fingers around his hand, in the process. "I look forward to our...'interaction' together, Commander. If you need anything from the NCOs, let me know. If there are any..." she paused and cocked an antenna back, slightly, "*issues* with the men inform me immediately. I'm here to facilitate as smooth a transition as possible, for both our sakes."

"That was somewhat the point to coming down here in the first place, Chief." He was trying to remember if he'd already covered that in his introduction, but the brandy was making his mind somewhat fuzzier than usual.

"Well then," she hopped off the edge of her desk. Joral quickly stood, as well. "If there's nothing else, I'm sure you've got plenty to do, XO."

"Not much, really. You were my last stop of the day... officially, anyway." His mind wandered for a moment towards the 'unofficial' and he felt his stomach clench, though whether that was apprehension or Saurian brandy he was unsure.

"Then don't let me keep you, Sir." She snapped her heels together and executed a crisp hand salute.

Snapping off a returning salute without even thinking about it, and replied somewhat blearily, "Just give me a ring if you need anything, Chief."

"Aye-aye, XO," she responded, then added: "And XO?"

Turning, Joral found himself surprisingly clear-minded, and was then confused at when the clarity had returned to his brain. "Yes, Chief?"

"Please knock, next time you enter the Goat Locker, sir. Barring an emergency, of course," she said, trying to be as polite as possible while firmly reminding the XO of the traditionally-accepted mess protocol. She could tell that Joral didn't like being called-out on the breach of protocol, but he showed good form and just clenched his jaw and glowered.

Tish smiled, "Have a good day, XO," before letting the door slide shut.

"The Rounds, Part 6 - Intelligence"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Lieutenant Commander K. Jordan Lankin, Intelligence Liaison

Having already had what could be politely described as a "mildly stressful" afternoon, Joral decided that maybe he was being a tad masochistic by completing the day with a meeting that he knew needed to be done, but that he'd prefer to avoid at pretty much any cost. He was, in fact, hoping that something else - anything else - would happen - a call from the captain, a minor emergency on the bridge, an interstellar war...

Unfortunately, if a war were pending, the first person to know would be the very person whom he was going to see, so that probably wouldn't do much to divert this meeting. All he could do was hope that dropping by unannounced would catch his quarry off-guard enough to change the terms of the discussion in his favor.

"Computer, location of 'Commander Lankin?"

The supposedly-soothing artificial feminine voice replied, "'Commander Lankin is in her office."

Smirking, Joral headed in the opposite direction - upwards and towards the senior officers quarters.

Lankin's quarters were only a few doors from his (something he had been rather discomforted by), so he walked right past his own door and around the bend (something that he felt described Lankin herself). He saw the door easily enough - the small alcove that was in front of every senior officer's door had far dimmer lights than the surrounding corridor.

However, that didn't stop him from noticing the well-hidden bio sensor field that he was about to cross. Apparently, 'Commander Lankin didn't take well to "unannounced" visitors.

The XO considered for a moment simply passing the threshold into Lankin's realm, but he promptly dismissed that idea as too simple. Stepping back out of the corridor before his presence was detected, Joral ducked back to his quarters and sat down at the small desk. Accessing the system, he quickly found the subroutine for the biosensor and set the feed to a recursive loop for the next ninety seconds - just long enough for him to slip back down the corridor and past the sensor undetected.

Overriding the security protocols on the intel liaison's door, he reflected that the her insistence on dimming the whole area was oddly comforting; it was certainly less irritating than the Starfleet insistence on garishly-lit white surfaces everywhere. The doors opened invitingly, and he slipped into Lankin's room unnoticed. Glancing around the quarters, he briefly considered searching the room a bit, but decided that he was probably already straining the already forced trust between the two of them. Thus, he simply sat down in the corner and took a PADD out of his pocket. As long as he was waiting, he might as well read the crew rosters that would have been so helpful at the beginning of this painful day.

++++++++++

The Miranda's intelligence officer didn't survive in the environment she had without a certain level of paranoia. Thus, the numerous failsafes within the intelligence center itself and the many security measures she's set around the ship as a whole. One of the more convenient measures was the notification of anyone coming looking for her (like with many things she'd adopted over the years, there was a story of learning to this one, but not one she particularly liked to revisit).

When Commander Joral had requested her location, the computer sent a quiet notice to her terminal, and Jordan considered it for a moment before closing out and returning to the task at hand. It took some time before she became fully aware that an hour and change had passed without the XO darkening her doorstep. At least... not this one.

So, with large coffee cup in hand the operative ventured out of the darkened alcove within the brain of her fortress and into the rest of the ship. It didn't take much time to descend to the next deck and she came up on the door to her quarters. She smirked slightly and shook her head, pausing only a moment before she pressed the keypad and bid the door open.

"If I recall, this tactic backfired on you last time, didn't it?" she asked, stepping just inside the door and making immediate eye contact with the lounging Bajoran invading her space. "Kindly take your feet of my coffee table -- it's an antique."

Slowly and quite theatrically putting one foot and then the other on the floor, Joral looked at the table. "Antique, eh? Hell, on Bajor that would hardly be considered 'old'." He looked at the stoic face in front of him. "And it worked just fine last time, thank you very much. Hell, I got out of the room alive, so I call it a win."

"I was feeling charitable," she replied, lifting an eyebrow, sipping her coffee. "Perhaps a lapse of judgment."

Slipping the PADD into his pocket, Joral motioned to the chair beside himself, seemingly either unaware of uncaring of the inconsideratness of inviting someone to sit in their own home. Jordan didn't say anything specific, and though her expression betrayed annoyance, it hadn't shifted considerably since she'd stepped in to find him there in the first place. She sat -- but across the table from him, deep in the large leather arm chair that was hardly standard issue.

"You're just about the only officer that I didn't have to see in any official capacity today, Lankin, so I figured that I might as well just drop by. I think its high time we had ourselves a bit of a chat."

"I don't see what needs to be discussed, Joral," she replied. "It was a long time ago. We both got out alive, as you said. We're on the same ship, but we don't have to like each other."

"No, but we do have to trust each other," the Bajoran answered, trying to ignore the image that had come up unbidden in the back of his mind. "And as far as 'like' goes, I wouldn't mind being able to at least fake it." He rubbed his temples again to try to stave off the headache that he'd had all day. It was, of course, a losing battle. Looking back up at the woman in front of him, he continued, "Look, the only reason that I wasn't waitin in here with a phaser pointed at the door is because the Old Man and Jii won't let me, so I figure that it's time I went with something new."

It was all she could do to bite back a grin. "Waiting here with a phaser at the door?" she asked, the ice queen persona melting as she found herself unable to keep back the chuckle. "Come on, Anton. You're a whiz with the computers, believe me, I've discovered this. But do you really have any reason to believe that would have worked? Old Man or not? I'm more above ground than ever now, but come on."

He raised an eyebrow, the 'Commander's stoicism apparently transferring to him. "You never did have a sense for metaphor - which may have been part of your problem. No passion. It's unbecoming... Kitty." He leaned back again, resisting the urge to put his feet back up. "I hardly need to remind you that I don't need you to be above ground to find you."

"Mmm," she replied. "Maybe. Maybe not. There's still a lot about that time that you're not privy too, I imagine it'll stay that way. The Old Man's pretty intent on keeping everything pretty well sealed." Her tone betrayed something, though what was hard to say. "And my passion is still very much in place." She paused a moment. "Something's been bothering me the past couple of days... why did act you act as though you didn't expect me back in the shuttle bay?"

He narrowed his eyes at her. "You're behind on your reading there, Kitty. I had less than twenty-four hours from the time Jii offered me the job to the time I arrived. What with everything else - the traumatized sister, the disgraced superior officers, the packing, the crew about to mutiny on me - well, I didn't have the time to look up the ship's roster on my own, so I only had the list of senior officers that he passed to me, and apparently he thought it would be best to leave you off the list."

She gave him a skeptical look. "You're telling me that you're the only command-level officer in the fleet who didn't know I was assigned to Miranda?"

She supposed it was possible. She also supposed it was possible he had known but had figured -- like many had -- that should would be going off the ship with the Old Man; Jordan knew the humors as well as anyone, knew that most had come to consider her some bizarre extension of Admiral Murdock's body as though they were glued to the hip. It was just evidence of complete lack of understanding in a very complex situation.

"No, but quite frankly, I didn't expect you to stick around. Honestly, I always saw the Old Man as your bread and butter. It's frankly a little weird to see you without him." Joral closed his eyes, trying to ignore the ever-increasing pounding in his brain.

"I'm sorry -- about what happened to your sister," she said, somewhat suddenly, the personal statement coming out of the blue -- perhaps the first completely honest thing either of them had said in the past five or ten minutes. "We should be better than that by now, though... of course we aren't."

The Bajoran's eyes snapped open. The puzzled look on his face was pronounced. Ever since arriving onboard, anyone who had even obliquely referenced Ulani had gotten their heads bitten off, the Captain included, but he didn't even feel the urge to this time around. At first, he thought it was because such a sentiment coming from the woman across from him seemed entirely foreign, but then he realized it was because he was actually not discomforted by the statement from this particular source.

Taking a deep breath, he mumbled a small, "Thank you," and then looked up. "I'll pass that along to her."

"How's she doing?"

"Shit, she's a hell of a lot tougher than I am," he replied. "She's managing alright."

Jordan shook her head. "She has a lot of courage," she stated, "it's not easy to have the whole fleet talking about you -- I can only imagine what it's like when it's not because of your own doing. Keep... it's good you're standing by her."

"I raised her, Jordan. I can't fathom a thing she could do that would cause me to jump ship on her. I'd jump ship on the fleet before I did that." He absent-mindedly stroked the gold braids on his sleeve. "I almost did."

"I'm somewhat surprised you didn't," she replied. "I rem..." Her voice trailed off, and she almost visibly yanked her shields back up, shifting her demeanor. "Was there are particular reason you invaded my private space, Joral, or was it just a not-so-subtle power play to show me than you could?"

Joral smiled tightly. This was far closer to what he was expecting. "Now now, Kitty, we were having such a good moment. You were making such progress. And you should know that subtlety isn't my strong suit."

"We've had good moments before," she replied, the ghost of a knowing smile across her lips, "but like those, this one had to end as well. Answer the question. What did you want to talk about?"

"Well, I was attempting to broker some sort of peace here, for once with our uniforms still intact, but somehow I get the feeling that you're jaded to a point that you are incapable of making that particular leap."

"Ah the good old days... but haven't you heard, Joral? I've grown. I'm all reformed and everything." She gave him a broad grin, her eyes dancing with the knowledge that he didn't buy it then and certainly didn't buy it now. "I don't see why we can't give it a whirl."

"'Reformed' is just a fancy word for someone who has a better place to hide the bodies, Kitty." Narrowing his eyes and wishing - not for the first time in his history with Jordan Lankin - that he was of a telepathic species, he replied, "I would suggest burying the hatchet, but there are at least two ways that you could misconstrue that, and I'm fairly certain that I don't want either of those to happen just now."

"Bigger and better things await me, I'm sure," she replied, twisting a lock of hair around a finger as she watched him with her large steel grey eyes.

Joral almost - almost - managed to avoid any visible discomfort from that statement, but figured that any effect that she may have had on him was covered by the fact that he chose that moment to stand. "Look, I've tried as best as I know how to do what I came here to do. You know how I feel about the situation. You want to make peace? Fine. You want to continue the game? Don't expect me to let down my guard this time around."

"You let *your* guard down this time," she stated, looking somewhat insulted. "I was just defending myself, I'm not the one who brought out the hypospray of unknown substances and tried to inject you with it in your sleep."

"Perhaps my usual charms weren't working that night."

Jordan scoffed as she stood as well. "Charms," she stated. "I suppose that's one word for it. I call it -- trying to kill me. Or at least... lock me away for a very long time. But then -- that you tried on several different occasions, didn't you?" She frowned, though her tone was almost... jovial. She was enjoying this, toying with him.

"Officially? Only once my dear. Unofficially? Well, I do always try to have handcuffs ready."

"Get out," she said, gesturing toward the door. "Now."

Joral raised an eyebrow and sauntered towards the door. "Not very neighborly, are you, Kitty?" As the doors slid open, he stopped and looked back at her. "You know, I think you were more fun when you were still trying to kill me."

"Ruminations"Edit

K. Jordan Lankin

"He said what?"

"That's what I heard."

"No. I can't believe that."

"Well think -- what would I get out of lying about it? It's not like it's the friend of my sister's nephew. I heard it with my own ears right from the XO's mouth."

"Still... maybe he was joking. I've heard he has a tacky sense of humor."

"Yeah, maybe. When he's not punching people in the mouth for no good reason."

"I wouldn't say that too loudly."

"From what I heard? The guy was right on. And Joral's sister?" A whistle. "*Should* charge for her services. Though. You know. She might already!"

"Do you always listen to what you hear?"

"Yeah, mostly. Makes life more interesting."

"It'll get you punched in the mouth."

"Maybe. But then I can file charges and get a nice cushy job on 6-1-6 with Arrrrrlene..."

"I can't believe I'm friends with you."

"You do have poor tastes in men, for sure. Hey, did you hear the one about my boss and the captain? I heard that Lieutenant Merr--"

"Mr. Casen."

The human man and the half-Cardassian woman looked up at the gentle voice that broke into their conversation. Jiles Cason blanched at the sight of the auburn haired woman standing there, hands braced on the backs of their bar chairs.

"It may be wise of you to cut yourself off before you ended up saying something that gets back to someone it shouldn't."

"Ye-- yes ma'am," he stammered, glancing at his friend who had looked away in the other direction, sipping her drink and trying to distance herself as far as possible from the black clothed intelligence liaison.

Jordan Lankin smiled, then reached between them and picked up the whiskey that the bar tender had set out for her. She toasted the man and then smacked the young lieutenant on the shoulder before she pushed away and moved toward her usual seat in the back of the bar, near the windows.

She'd been on the Miranda for nineteen months, two weeks and four days, and there were still elements of this life that she struggled to adjust to. It was hard to say if it was ship living in particular or if it was the traditional fleet in general, but there was a lot more gossip, a lot more concern for what everyone else was doing. Who was talking to who at the bar, who was practicing the 'different parsecs don't count' rule, who might be pregnant with who's spawn, and who was getting fat, thin, or seeing a counselor for x, y or z. There was no anonymity. Everyone knew everyone. Even on a ship of Miranda's size. It was astounding.

Jordan settled in her usual chair and leaned back against the wall, looking out over the people gathered after their shift. Most of them she only knew from official images in their official files; she'd gone through all the new officers and most of the non-coms already. Over eighty percent of the ship had turned over. Which disturbed her. She liked a little bit of consistency, liked being familiar the people she shared the recycled air with. But now, so many of them were complete unknowns. It made her antsy.

But it wasn't unusual to see this kind of shift. It was tempting to conclude that is said something positive about Victor Murdock or negative about Elaithin Jii, but that simply wasn't the case. Those interested in reality would understand that. Senior staff, particularly, often changed when a new CO came in from the outside -- sometimes on their request or that of the incoming captain, but usually because that particular tour was up for them or because there was somewhere else Starfleet needed them to be. Murdock's XO had been promoted to command of the Missouri in the eleventh fleet, and the chief tactical officer had taken a position at the command school. Rumor said that Summers had also been offered a promotion and had declined because of family or whatnot, but Jordan wasn't sure she believed it. Not because her friend wouldn't be a solid officer somewhere else, but because she was sure Cheyenne would have said something.

She sipped her drink.

It was easy to get attached to a commanding officer, especially one of Victor Murdock's caliber. The Old Man was a legend in his own right, and indisputably a good officer. He devoted himself to the people under his command, took the approach that all were in this together. It was refreshing.

Over her years on the outside looking in, Jordan had seen more than a few commanders who sought to pit officers against one another, who promoted competition and thought that strife was the best way to build character. She'd seen others who berated those in their command, who sought to either break or bend them to their will, endeavored to instill a sense of God in them. Others still would coddle their officers, played mother or father, treated everyone with kid gloves and accepted whatever they were given.

Murdock was none of the above as a rule and all of the above as necessity dictated. He was firm yet kind, genuine, appreciative of diversity of opinion and encouraged his officers to voice those opinions. He believed in debate, in hard work, in inspiring one another to think outside the box and work together toward greater goals. Murdock's ship was the place to be if you wanted to grow into your rank, wanted to develop invaluable skills, and consequently success in his environment could advance you faster that you'd have thought possible. But on the other hand, it was not the place to go if advancement was your one focus. There had to be a sense of idealism, a reason you were doing what you were doing beyond that of personal gain. Those personally motivated never lasted long. The Old Man asked too much, expected too much, and asked too many questions for them to get through.

There were those in the Fleet who fell for the Gospel of Victor Murdock hook, line and sinker, who believed the man walked on water, was a greater, better incantation of Admirals Archer and Pike all rolled into one with a healthy dose of Cochranian eccentricity. Jordan wasn't one of those people. The man was a man and he had his faults -- not the least of them being, in her opinion, his unfailing, unblinking, unabashed optimism.

But she would defend him until the day she died and would do anything he asked. She owed her life to him in more ways than she could count or he would recognize.

She sighed and looked out the window. The starscape shone beyond the sweeping arch of one of the docking arms. Jordan wondered if maybe she should have gone onto 616 with some of the others, but she was just too drained. It had been a busy day, and on the heels of her adventures with the new captain the night before, she needed nothing more this evening than a quiet drink and an early lights out. She'd be good as new in the morning.

Generally, she wasn't a morose woman. Jordan didn't like to linger in the past or think too hard about regrets -- which she didn't believe in and didn't entertain; rightly or wrongly, she stood by every decision she'd made and every action she'd taken. And easily to her detriment. There were times when she was thoughtful, contemplative, but rarely did she allow for it to deteriorate into self-pity of any kind. If she did, she'd never get anything done, would spend every waking moment in a depressed stupor. But every once in a while, introspective reflection reared its ugly head and she let herself wallow in that most unfortunate of things: perspective.

Elaithin's appearance, however attractive it was, made the situation all too real -- the Admiral was gone, headed to earth in order to accept his new post as the head of Starfleet and all related affairs. And it stung. More than the intelligence officer wanted to admit. On a practical level she understood it wasn't a slight -- he wasn't leaving *her* and there was so much more to be gained from his place in his new position than there would be having him remain in the Miranda's captain's chair until he took his last breath. While Jordan was somewhat dubious when it came to the Old Man's claim that he was looking forward to spending time dirt side with his wife and family, she understood that over his long career it had hardly been easy because, while he was very much a Starfleet man in every sense of the word, at his core Victor Murdock was a family man even though circumstances rarely allowed him to fulfill that role.

Still. It irritated her. Crawled under her skin. Pulled at that little place in the back of her mind. And, quite honestly, it frightened her a little bit. With the Admiral nearby there were fewer questions -- at least, fewer questions spoken audibly. Perhaps it was the belief that she couldn't be straying too far from the straight and narrow with him right there, looking over her shoulder, involved in her every move. Perhaps it was something else. The scuttle, at least in the intelligence world, was that she was the primary reason Elaithin Jii had been tapped for this command -- because, who better to keep an eye on her than the hero of Federation Day himself?

Hero of Federation Day her shapely little ass. He was practically on the other side of the galaxy and none of it would have happened without her decade of work behind it. But that was the problem with being an intelligence officer -- you do your job right, no one but a few choice people know about it; you frak it up and it's all across the front page.

Or, in her case, you do your job right and it's spun across the front page as nothing short of high treason.

She was over it. Had moved on. Put it behind her. Or at least, she thought she had. And then, who should appear over the new captain's shoulder than Joral Anton.

Jordan knew he was coming, sure. She had braced herself, mentally prepared. But seeing the orders in print, reviewing his service jacket, looking at the small official holograph in the corner, that was entirely different from seeing him in the flesh. The flashback hit her warp speed.

It had been nineteen months, three weeks and six days since she'd last seen Joral Anton. She'd been on trial then and he was a key witness for the prosecution. Despite her purported role in the unveiling and destruction of the organization she'd served for so long, she was still placed on trail, required to stand for all the activities that went into keeping her cover, and especially, for all the things she'd done before joining Admiral Murdock and his Wonderland Project. Her lack of apology only served to infuriate the tribunal and she was almost certain that her fate was signed and sealed and she'd spend innumerable years on a penal colony somewhere. It was fine, really -- she was a realist, understood the desire for revenge-fueled justice, and had prepared herself long ago for such a possibility. She'd never believed that her slate would be wiped clean.

Joral was an operations specialist, a computer geek, a whiz kid, who'd stumbled upon certain key evidence about certain actions she'd undertaken over a considerable amount of time, actions of which even the admiral had been unaware. He was called, and had been in the middle of testifying when he was interrupted -- a recess announced, and several hours later charges against her were dismissed, the complaints sealed.

That, and other elements, it sufficed to say she and Joral Anton had a complicated history.

And then -- now? -- there was Elaithin Jii. Something about him was eerily familiar and yet, going back over through his record and hers, she couldn't find any real point in which they'd overlapped or had any chance to. It wasn't like her memory to play tricks on her, but she could see no other explanation. Perhaps, as her mother would say, he just had one of those faces. Though, Jordan had the feeling that wasn't it.

Beyond that issue, beyond the title as 'hero of Federation Day' and all that other nonsense, there was the man as himself. He was handsome, of course, almost conventionally so (at least, in terms of Starfleet officers) and had that put together, cocksure attitude she'd always found attractive despite herself -- yet it was tempered somehow, maybe by some kind of humility or by the loss he'd experienced a decade or so earlier. And she was comfortable around him. Maybe it was just that it had been a while; she wasn't much one for relationships, an old habit from when she was never in the same place for very long and rarely played herself, and the one night stands had gotten old some time ago -- perhaps a product of the 'mission element' such trysts usually carried. Or maybe it was just that she was feeling vulnerable, maybe even a little abandoned (however ridiculous she consciously knew the idea to be).

Jordan touched her finger tips to her lips, smiling slightly, allowing herself to take a moment and reflect on the 'date' -- the unexpectedness of it all, the terrifying thrill of suddenly realizing she hadn't been in control of the evening -- not once over its entire course, and that was a rush.

Thought not nearly as exciting as the fact that she found herself wanting to see him again. And not in an 'on the bridge' or 'in the conference room' kind of way. Jordan couldn't remember the last time she'd had that feeling, and although she'd complained about it to Cheyenne, the entire thing was... unbelievably invigorating. She might not dwell on things, but this possibility -- however strange or remote -- made her feel like she was actually living her life instead of wondering through an unpredictable though somehow routine existence.

She just wished she knew what happened from here.

And why the hell hadn't he called?

"Medical Eval, The Easy Way"Edit

Lt. Jerry Wolfson, ACMO/Recreation Chief
Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer

Sickbay, USS Miranda

Jacen waited for his next turn, noticing the difference between West and Jerry. It seemed that everyone waited until the next minute to get this out of the way. He was thankful he got the Psych Eval done, he couldn't imagine the attitude he'd have given the Mind Doc if this had gone the other way.

Finally it was his turn and Jerry walked over to him, "Well, first my bunk mate, now my doctor. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you where trying to ask me out." He winked and smiled, hopefully letting him know he was joking.

Jerry laughed. "You'd think that, would you? Now c'mon. Hop up here and we'll get this sorted." He pointed at one of the beds and turned to grab the items he needed to perform the physical.

Jacen hopped up and tried not to pay attention to the stuff Jerry was getting. "I promise to be a good boy, Doc. Y'all still give out lollipops to the good kids?" While Jacen couldn't see his face, he was sure Jerry had rolled his eyes. When Jerry finally faced him, he had a hypo with an empty cartridge.

"Roll up your sleeve, please. Any complaints?" he asked as he began to draw blood from his roommate's arm.

"Nope, I feel great. My only annoyance is the old flame I told you about, he's sub-space stalking me, or starting to," he waved the thought away with his free hand, "Oh, by the way. I got a crate earlier from home. Apparently my mother couldn't let me go without one last gift-basket. There's just a few things I wanted to talk to you about when it comes to decorating."

"Sorry to hear that. If it gets to be too annoying, you can always let security know and they might be able to contact the local authorities to deal with it. A crate, huh? Well, tell me about it when we're both home." He withdrew the cartridge from the hypo and summoned one of the nurses to run a standard set of tests on the blood. "Is there anything you think I should pay particular attention to with your medical history?"

"No," he shrugged with the response, "I've always had a clean bill of health. Sorry I'm not more interesting in that area." He put his hands in his lap, "As far as the stalker, no worries. I've got a few Caitians I know who owe me a couple favors. And the crate is already gone, the stuff in question is on the main table."

He then cocked his head to the right playfully, "So what kind of goodies are you gonna put in me today? I'm sure I'm going to get the 'Miranda Special' or should I just call Lankin in here first?" He wiggled his eyebrows for extra emphasis.

"You do need the standard booster shots and-" Here he paused to take a look at the PADD the nurse brought to his attention after accepting the vial of blood. "-looks like you need a new inoculation, too. This one's for a new form of influenza that's been striking some of the outer colonies rather hard. Can't say I fancy the idea of getting myself knocked out thanks to a Vulcan nerve pinch, but I"ll take my chances. Means two shots, though. They've not yet come up with an all-in-one." He inserted a vial into the hypo and approached mock-cautiously.

Jacen eyed him as he approached, but made no sudden moves as he offered his arm. He let him give the first round, "I'm not keen on this part. But I'll go through the motions since I'm sure it wouldn't go over well with my new boss." He did grin slightly. "But I'll admit I don't know how to do a neck pinch, so you're good."

He smiled. "Good to know," he said as he pressed the release on the hypo. The device hissed as it injected the booster shot into his system. Then he ejected the spent cartridge, put it on the table set up beside the bed, and grabbed the inoculation cartridge. After inserted it into the hypo, he warned, "This one might burn a little as it goes in. It'll pass, I assure you. Just can't tell how someone might react to this if they're not warned ahead of time."

Jacen smiled, "Thank you."

The hypo hissed as the cartridge emptied. "All right?" he asked as he waited for any possible side effects.

Jacen did wince, "Yes. It does burn, but nothing serious."

"Right, then. Next up is the physical fitness exam." He led his roommate over to the treadmill set up in the side of the infirmary. "We'll just need an easy jog from you. Don't over exert yourself."

Jacen got to it and increased the speed to his personal preference. He wasn't much into jogs or running, but he did keep himself up for these tests. Granted, he also did so to keep his legs in good shape for the guys, but he'd never admit it to anyone. He spoke up, "So how long Doc? I can go for about an hour or so."

"Fifteen minutes will do it," he replied and paid close attention to the readings being displayed on the computer monitor behind Jacen. After six minutes, he said, "Looks good. How do you feel?"

"No different than when I work out. No shortness of breath or anything of the like."

"Good," Jerry replied and continued watching the monitors. When fifteen minutes had passed, he told the science officer to slow down and walk for three minutes. Once that was finished, he gestured for Jacen to climb off the treadmill. "Everything looks good. Come see us if you have any problems. I'll sign off on your physical and you can get back to work."

"Sweet, thanks Doc," he replied. While this wasn't his favorite place, or thing to do, he was very thankful that Jerry made it easy for him. Most times, Med Officers who've read his file try to 'talk' him out of his views. "Have a good one and I'll see you at home. Oh! And I'll let you know my schedule soon. Shouldn't be more than a day or so. Ciao!"

While the visit was good, Jacen still wanted out of Sickbay. That sometimes meant that he came across as a little rude, but he sincerely tried not to. It was all a matter of the person on the receiving end.

Jerry nodded, unfazed by the abrupt goodbye. "You're welcome. I'll see you later."

Jacen waved as the doors closed on him and he headed back to Sciences, to see if the new boss made it in yet. It would be best to show no weakness to a Kzinti, his Caitian friends always told him about the do's and don'ts. he just hoped he hadn't forgotten anything.

“Restless”Edit

SCPO. Lorelai MacRae - Engineering Systems Specialist

Bunkroom 3, CPO Quarters, Deck 7, USS Miranda

Lorelai lay in her bunk staring at the base of Jessica's bunk and finding herself completely unable to sleep.

Today was the big day, the relaunch of the Miranda under its new Captain. It wasn't really until now that she'd fully considered what that might mean. Up until this point she'd been so busy she'd barely found time for sleep, let alone thought or contemplation.

Overseeing the work in engineering, at least until Jaxom had arrived, and making sure the refit crews didn't leave any nasty surprises had taken up a great deal of her time - probably more than it should have if she were being honest with herself. Still, she was happy enough with what had been done...for now. The real test was yet to come.

She rolled over in her bunk and gazed at the dozen PADDs piled on the small desk of her quarters. The small library of data she had managed to compile on slipstream technology had yielded a great deal of useful, as well as potentially problematic, information. There was still a great deal she didn't understand but she wasn't going to be the only one, she suspected that even the Captain was not entirely sure about the newest addition to the ship.

That was another thing, speaking of additions, the rate of crew turnover was unbelievable. So many new faces, she knew that as far as some officers were concerned one red-shirt was just the same as the next but these were *her* people - and loosing a good team and replacing them with good individuals just wasn't the same thing. She knew a lot of the other Chiefs in other departments felt the same way but it wasn't their place to stop others if they wanted to move on, bitter pill though it could be. You wished your people the best and swallowed your own feelings. All the new people didn't help the air of tension on the ship.

So now, here in the darkness of the night, the only illumination the faint glow from the console mounted over the desk, she thought about what tomorrow might bring. It was exciting, like the night before Christmas, the wondering, the waiting, the trepidation. She hadn't felt this...this...this nervous since she'd received her first posting over two decades ago. She never normally got nervous, she'd done so much and seen much more that she didn't think there was anything to phase her. Still, she did find it comforting that, after all these years, there was still something that excited her about this job.

MacRae wasn't a particularly religious woman. She'd been raised in a Catholic family and had attended church regularly as a child but her twenty-plus years in military service combined with the sudden loss of Alex had gradually eroded her faith.

Still, she did feel that, maybe on this occasion, some form of reassurance was needed - just in case anyone - or anything - was listening.

It was a well established passage, altered for personal taste as seen fit. It was known as 'The CPO Prayer' - and it went like this:

“So far today, God, I have lived my life as you would intend. I haven't lost my temper. I have not even tried to grab the Chief's Mess Cook by the throat, like yesterday. I have said nothing insulting or humiliating to any of the junior officers. I haven't bitched about the coffee, the ship's schedule, the duty roster or the surprise personnel inspection. I have told no lies and I have not cheated at poker. I have not stolen from the stores and I have put no ship's tools in my personal toolbox. In short God, I believe that so far today I have committed no grievous sins.”

She let out a small sigh.

“Thank you, God, for helping me to stay righteous so far. But Lord, it's almost 0600 and in a little while I'm going to roll out of my bunk and after that...I think I will need a lot more help. Amen...”

"Childhood Friends"Edit

K. Jordan Lankin
Aurelia Jaxom

USS Miranda

They'd always had an interesting relationship. As the older child (although only by two years, Kitty would never fail to add) Aurelia had been the leader even though it had often been the younger girl's schemes that she had lead them towards. Naturally, they had been the yin and yang of each other, Aurelia - bookish and a bit reserved and Kitty - straight forward and in your face, but somehow they were usually mistaken for sisters even though they didn't look that much alike. There had been a short period of awkwardness when Aurelia had dated Brady, Kitty's much older brother, and frustration on her part by Kitty's frequent disappearances, but it had been nothing that hadn't sorted itself out in the end.

Of course that was before Aurelia had found out that her friend had been some kind of wunderkind super-spy and that she'd known Aurelia's father was working for the same organization.

They hadn't talked in awhile.

"Hi," Aurelia said a bit hesitantly.

Jordan was mid-chew, the bit of her bagel -- or muffin or baked good of some indeterminate origin, it was hard to tell wrapped in a napkin -- packed into her cheek like a chipmunk. It was pretty typical; the woman had eaten like that since she was about three. Her large grey eyes flicked up and widened theatrically at the image of her childhood friend. She swallowed abruptly, a movement that made her choke and she coughed, dropping her breakfast onto the plate and covering her mouth with a hand.

"Hi," she choked, clearing her throat. "I -- um *cough* -- long time." She offered a tight smile as her face flushed in awkward embarrassment of her surprise and she quickly animated also cartoonishly in effort to cover it up. "SIT! Rel, sit... we should... I'm sorry, I should've found you earlier, but it's been insane since the crew turnover."

"Counseling has been pretty busy," Aurelia agreed as she sat down. "You know, you wouldn't choke if you didn't try to eat the whole thing in under a minute."

"Yeah, well. I have issues -- what do you want from me," Jordan said, grinning a little, taking a large drink of water and clearing her throat several times. "You look fantastic, Rel."

Aurelia gave a small smile. "Thanks. How have you been?"

"Eh. Comme ci comme ca," she replied, making a wavering motion with her hand. "Hanging in there. Going a little nuts. Pulled in too many directions too much of the time. So -- the usual. How're you? It's, ah... been a while since you -- since we've talked. How're you doing with Douche Bag on board -- wait -- you did know he was assigned here, right?"

She nodded. "Yeah we ran into each other a few days ago. I was pretty surprised; I'm not sure I would have taken this assignment if I'd known he was going to be on board. I think we'll be okay as long as we stay out of each others way."

"We'll see how long that lasts," Jordan remarked, picking apart the pastry and now eating it in small, deliberate pieces. She thought a brief moment, debating whether or not to even venture onto the subject, but then cocked a wry smile and said, "Kind of nice to see I wasn't a deterring factor. Or was I an unknown as well?"

"I knew you were going to be here," was all Aurelia said. There was a lot for them to discuss but frankly she wasn't sure if she was ready for it yet. It was easier instead to stick to familiar territory. "How's Brady?"

Jordan's nose wrinkled; she'd never liked the relationship between her childhood friend and older brother. Braeden was far too old for 'Rel, and that they hooked up intermittently over the course of the Academy was just wrong. Of course, Aurelia and Brady had known each other for a good two decades before any of that had happened, so it was possible this inquiry was an entirely innocent. It was impossible to tell with Aurelia.

"Oh. You know. Positively perfect in every way, as per usual," she replied, with a shrug. Her brother was known throughout the fleet as a 'picture book officer'; his record next to perfect, everything he touched turned to gold-pressed latinum, and rainbows flew out of his ass. Jordan loved him to pieces anyway. "Still trying to convince me I have to 'sir' him, which one would think would get old after about twenty years, but you know. The Corinthian's been on the other side of the universe for the past several months now, so we haven't been able to talk as much as usual... he's due to call in the next few days though. When they get back in range. Guess he's seeing a half-Nuvian woman named Citaria. She seems nice. But I don't think it's going to last."

"No? That's too bad. It would be nice to see him settled down."

"Yeah, I think so too," Jordan agreed with a soft sigh, taking a long sip of her coffee. "I wouldn't mind being an auntie, either. But I don't know that it's going to happen though, not any time soon. You know Brady. He has... unrealistic standards. A girl lasts a few months, then he starts dwelling on her flaws, meanwhile she's falling head over heels for his perfection and it's just bad all over."

"Tell him I said hello," Aurelia said and then smirked. "Ask how Big Brad is doing."

"I absolutely will not," Jordan said, shaking her head.

She laughed at Kitty's expression. 'Big Brad' didn't actually mean what her friend thought but Aurelia thought a little passive aggressive punishment was in order.

"I still hate that you had a thing with my brother," Jordan said. "Do you ever see him anymore? Last I heard about was the wedding."

Aurelia shook her head. "Not since then. And your brother may be perfect in every other way, but he can't dance to save his life." The memory of him stomping on her feet almost made her wince but otherwise it was a good memory. It had been a perfect day with the exception of Kitty and her father's absence. "Speaking of the wedding, you still owe me a wedding present."

Jordan subtly winced. She hadn't made it to the wedding; she'd been in the field several parsecs away, and didn't even know Aurelia Smith was becoming Aurelia Jaxom; she didn't get the invitation until she got home, stepping into her small apartment in London after a year and a half and found the notice. Braeden had made some excuse for her at the time, probably fumbled something along the lines of 'you know Kitty' and 'she's probably out saving starving children on a moon somewhere', because at the time, everyone who meant anything thought she was a diplomat. No one asked a question about it. Not until later. And then, the questions came only if they were still talking to her. Aurelia had been a big question mark in that column for a while. And honestly, Jordan wasn't sure if this communication would last beyond the initial, "I'm stationed here, you're stationed here, let's catch up" novelty.

"Yeah, I don't think so," Jordan said, shaking her head. "I was planning some ostentatious baby shower gift, but now..." She allowed her voice to trail off teasingly, smirking. "You're better off. He just held you back."

Aurelia rolled her eyes. "Have you even met the man, Kitty?"

"No. But I heard tale from Brady. He is not a fan. Said there's 'just something about him'," Jordan replied, "but I think it's because you're in that awkward category of ex girlfriend who's like a sister thing that is just too difficult for me to fathom in any kind of psychoanalytical way. You could marry the Prince of the Universe and he wouldn't think the guy was good enough for you. Hell. You could probably marry *him* and he'd think the same thing." Jordan shrugged.

"No he wouldn't," Aurelia said with a smile. She knew Braeden thought he'd make her a good husband, he'd asked her once to marry him, hadn't he? But that definitely was a conversation for another day. "Braeden is the most confident man I've ever met. Anyway try talking to Jay before you make up your mind, okay? He's not a bad guy, just a lousy husband."

It was a shame, Aurelia thought, that she could never remember that when they were in the same room together.

"I'll take your word for it," Jordan replied. "Being that he is the chief engineer, I'm bound to run into him at some point and will try to reserve my judgment. I'm still going to refer to him unkindly in private conversation, though, only seems right." She fell quiet, studying her coffee. "It's still weird for me to think you were married. Just seems so adult."

"It's still weird for me to know that you were a spy. That seems far more strange in comparison."

"Really?" Jordan asked, raising an eyebrow. "I mean -- honestly. It's that surprising? Come on, aren't you supposed to be some sort of shrink or something?" She picked at her pastry -- now, clearly a blueberry muffin. "I understand not immediately jumping to that conclusion, you're not supposed to, I wouldn't be very good at my job if you did -- and I'm very good at my job. But now that you know, is it really that surprising? Think about it a minute."

"Oh, don't get me wrong, it explains quite a bit. But I can't seem to meld the idea of Kitty my Friend and Jordan the Operative together."

"We're really not very different," Jordan replied. "I've been doing this forever, I don't see how we could be -- the me the friend and the me the operative. But. Who knows. Maybe I'm even better at this whole thing than I give myself credit for, or you know, you could all just be completely delusional."

Aurelia shook her head. "I think you should leave the psychological diagnosis to a professional."

"Aw, but that's no fun," Jordan murmured, grinning. "Besides, I feel confident in my qualifications. Contrary to popular belief, you have to be a fairly stable sort of individual to be cleared for any kind of clandestine career. And let me tell you. They test it. Mandatory evals three times a year, barring missions of course. Extensive psychological debriefings immediately after. They don't take many chances."

"I bet you make the top ten of every must-see psych evaluation."

"I'll have you know that I'm actually considered to be extremely stable," Jordan replied, wide-eyed. "A picture of perfect mental health."

Aurelia scoffed. "Maybe you are even better at this than we thought."

Jordan snickered. "Yeah, maybe."

"Would you like to talk about your experiences?" Aurelia said with a perfectly straight face. "Freud has some interesting thoughts on women and their work environment."

"Freud?" Jordan asked. "That's a little more... 'I want to sleep with my father' than I'm comfortable with. Desperate to please daddy is one thing, but the whole Oedipal dynamic makes my skin crawl."

"How about Jung? I'm sure we can find an archetype for you somewhere. Ooh, T'Pral of Vulcan has this great thesis about over-achievement and neurosis."

Jordan sighed. "I'm sure there's plenty there, somewhere, but I just had my yearly head shrinking at HQ, 'Rel, and was blessed as just insane enough to do my job without being so insane as to -- you know. Try to take down the government. Again. So I really don't need you pulling out the analysis."

"I dunno, Kitty," She said in an over the top 'therapist' voice. "I think there's issues there that might need revisiting. I could do a dream analysis."

Jordan made a face. "I'm not sure that would be a good idea for any of us."

"Hm," She said thoughtfully. "I might have to recommend a follow-up for you."

"Well. I might have to kill you."

"You're no fun."

"That's what he said."

Aurelia frowned. "That's what who said?"

Jordan stared at her friend a moment and blinked. "It's a joke, 'Rel. Not a good one, but a joke. You know -- 'wow, that was hard' 'that's what she said.' I was trying -- I... never mind. Forget about it." Jordan glanced at her watch and winced. "Frak, I'm late. We need to sit down and have a real talk, 'Rel, sometime soon, okay? Let's not wait two years to do it either -- no excuses this time."

Well that was a classic avoidance tactic if she ever saw one. "Okay."

"I mean it." She stood, gathering up her trash on the small plate. "Don't make me track you down because you know I can."

"Cross my heart," Aurelia replied with a smile.

"Okay. I'll see you later then. Stay out of trouble."

"You too, Kitty."

"This is not an evaluation"Edit

LtCmdr Jordan Lankin
Lt. Kaori Lokai

Seeing Aurelia Smith... er... Jaxom (why the woman would not just accept it hadn't worked out and retake her maiden name, Jordan had no idea, but was sure it would give some enterprising psychologist more than a few good billable hours) was good for more than a few reasons.

First, because it offered a sense of resolution. Aurelia obviously wasn't carrying too big a grudge against her or they never would have been able to sit and discuss anything as civilly as they had -- 'Rel came across calm and bookish, but get her pissed and the flames could fly.

Second, because she realized that she needed to contact her brother. Brady was due to be back in communications range several hours ago and was usually good about sending a communiqué shortly thereafter; the fact he hadn't was a little strange. Not worryingly strange -- the man was a commodore after all and had things to attend to more pressing than letting his baby sister know he was still among the living -- but strange just the same. If she didn't have any word within the start of the next shift she would be sitting down to harass him herself.

Third, because while Aurelia's jokes about psycho analysis were a little stale, they reminded Jordan that it was time to meeting one of the few unknown quantities on the ship: the chief counselor.

And that's what brought her down to that particular level of the ship. Blue shirted personnel glanced at her awkwardly -- some of them full on gaping -- as she moved through the hallway. Being fair to them, this wasn't a part of the ship she usually frequented. The small counseling corridor was carefully tucked away from the rest of the ship and those who came here either worked here or were patients. Jordan was neither. And this visit wouldn't be changing that.

This would not be a formal call. Because of security clearances and the sensitivity of her job, Jordan's psychological evaluations were conducted at headquarters by counselors specially trained to deal with intelligence personnel. Most of the details were sealed. Jordan had never even seen the results of her exams except to know, by sheer fact that she was still in the rotation, that she passed. It was true that the chief counselor on board would receive the most pertinent details of any intelligence officer assigned to the ship -- that is, events or elements that may effect that officer's psychological well being or physical health -- but depending on the security clearance, the records would be heavily sensored. And because of Jordan's particular level, Lieutenant Lokai would have only the most general of details. She would not know specifics of missions, the loss of colleagues, the traumas of success or failures, or any of those lovely little details that shaped the psychological profile of the standard fleet officer.

No, Jordan was in no way required to see Lieutenant Kaori Lokai outside of senior staff meetings.

But in her experience, counselors were good people with whom to be familiar. On the one hand, they knew the secrets, and though any of them worth their salt would not reveal those secrets under penalty of death, they tended to wear their emotions on their sleeves and react more honestly in almost any situation than any other officer. They had little distrust, fewer reservations, would give themselves heart and soul to someone in need and would be ready to react quickly whenever that need arose. They were also good at reading people, and it was never bad to get a second opinion -- even if it was just observing another person's reactions.

It wasn't that Jordan wanted to use Lokai or to take advantage of her in any way; she would never dream of asking for details on another officer's psychological well being or pry for information from a session. But it would be beneficial to have some baseline for how the woman worked just for comparative purposes.

Not surprisingly, given the influx of new officers to the ship, the chief counselor's day was packed solid with initial evaluations and the basic wellness check Starfleet required of any personnel transferring to a new station. But Jordan was able to catch a glimpse of a brief period that would be perfect for a quick interruption and didn't hesitate.

With her ubiquitous coffee cup in hand, she moved into the anteroom of the small counseling suite and glanced at the crewman on duty at the desk, offering a small smile.

"Counselor Lokai available?" Jordan stated. The small Bolian woman's eyes widened, her cheeks flushing a darker shade of blue as her mouth dropped open and a very small nod occurred. "Thank you."

She moved through the short hallway, glancing at the doors before she came upon the chief counselor's small office, glad not to find the woman in her exam suite -- or whatever they called it. The room with the couch. The doorway was open and the small Asian woman sat at the desk (no, not small Jordan amended -- only an inch, maybe two than she, but it was easy to get a warped perspective given that most Starfleet officers reflected the taller end of the height scale these days).

"Lieutenant Lokai?" she questioned.

Kaori looked up and smiled, "The last time I looked in the mirror, I was. Are you here for the dreaded psych evaluation?" It seemed to be the census on the ship.

"Oh, no I'm--"

"Won't you have a seat?" Seeing what her position was, it made Kaori a bit nervous. Because of the position, Starfleet liked sealing records, making it hard for counselors to evaluate them. This would be Kaori's turn to dread Jordan's evaluation. "Ensign Henderson. I don't want to be disturbed for the next hour, okay?" The young Ensign agreed.

"I'm not here for an evaluation, Counselor," Jordan said, smiling slightly as the lieutenant closed the door. "I'm not a new transfer nor am I behind in my requirement. And all due respect, but you're not qualified to do my eval anyway. I just wanted to... take advantage of the calm and introduce myself outside of the senior staff meetings. I don't get the opportunity to work very closely with most of the regular staff, but I think it'd good to establish some kind of rapport anyway. I'm Jordan Lankin, the chief intelligence operative on board."

"Actually, I know who you are. I just thought that maybe they changed the policy and I didn't get the memo." It was obvious that she was exhausted. She had been going all day, talking to patients ho weren't exactly thrilled to be there.

"Ah, I see," Jordan said, her smile twisted slightly; of course Lokai would know who she was, everyone seemed to. It was more than a little discouraging for someone who lived hidden in shadows for so long. "Are you..." She settled in the chair, watching the lieutenant sit in the empty one next to her. "Are you settling into the Miranda okay? Looks like you've had your hands full with all the new transfers."

"Oh boy, have I. Some of them have even been decent to me. But then you get one or two that question why I am asking them certain questions. Some days I just want to reply with "because I am the Chief Counselor and I can do what I damn well please" but I don't. And everyone seems to schedule last minute." Kaori realized that she was complaining more than having a conversation, "But you're not here to listen to me complain, are you?"

Jordan laughed. "Don't worry about it," she said, "everyone needs someone to listen. Unfortunately, the culture of the fleet often discourages that line of reasoning." Jordan watched the blue-eyed woman over the rim of her large coffee mug as she took a sip of the slowly cooling liquid. "Yours is, perhaps, the only division of the fleet to get nearly as bad a rap as mine does. No one really wants to admit how necessary and beneficial we can be."

"Sounds as if you have a dislike of counselors too." Kaori sat back in her seat and shifted, making herself more comfortable.

"What? What would make you say that?" Jordan asked, frowning.

"I don't know; maybe I used the wrong word. You like us fine... as long as you aren't the patient. But then again, I'm not on top of my game right now and I could be wrong."

"Well. Patient or not. I like shrinks -- excuse me, psychologists," Jordan said. "You all interesting." She offered another smile. "Have a completely different perspective. Unfortunately, I don't make a very good patient. A little too analytical and good at turning the tables, I'm told. But... We had to take psychology and psychoanalysis, profiling, that sort of thing as part of field training. I always liked it. In a different universe, I might be behind your desk. Except for the whole fact that whiny people irritate me."

"It's not the whiny people that get to me, it's the ones who are afraid to open up. For example," she spoke carefully as not to give away any confidential information about someone, "I was trying to convince someone that the way we handle the death of a family member is important since we have to deal with death here in Starfleet, and sometimes, we may even lose someone close to us. My mother is a doctor AND she lost her husband, so believe me, I know what a person goes through, how they feel, what they think. Some even feel guilty, like it was somehow their fault, as if they could have prevented it." She sighed, "Sorry, I'm babbling here."

"No babbling," Jordan replied. "Let me guess -- this particular member of the crew wasn't quite buying it."

"Nope. Couldn't understand what difference it made. One day, they'll find out."

"Maybe," Jordan said, trying to keep the furrow from her expression as she processed and interpreted. "So... just a curiosity... but, what does your mother being a doctor have to do with knowing what a person goes through in grief?"

Lokai's expression was now a bit more solemn as was her voice. "Her husband died in a shuttle accident. She went through the 'what ifs' and then feeling like she should have been able to do something. A week later, she lost a patient. All that grief and guilt transferred to her patient. She had to see a counselor to help her deal with both deaths. It was hard but she got through it. She still practices medicine today."

Jordan's jaw tensed as she studied the woman's face and body language. Lokai was an interesting one, certainly; Jordan couldn't figure out the angle. Every psychologist had one, an angle with which they approached patients. But this woman seemed to make it personal. Maybe it was because of her youth, or maybe something else. Either was, it was somehow disconcerting.

"She continued treating patients after she lost him?" Jordan said, shaking her head, not a little surprised; Starfleet tended to keep steadfast rules in those types of situations, or at least, they did in theory. "Wow. I don't think I could have done that. Not take any time off? And I'm about workaholic as you can get."

"That's her. Between you and me, I don't think she'll ever retire. She needs to work. She's never remarried so she has nothing to do with her time but take care of people. But she is a strong woman." Kaori smiled at the thought of her mother.

"I'm sure she is," Jordan replied. "It's amazing, sometimes, to think about what an impact mothers can have on us. Positive and negative. "

"How about your mother? Do you have a good relationship with her?" She was truly interested.

"Oh, Mother and I have wonderful relationship," Jordan said, smiling slightly. "She's a pretty amazing woman herself. Was a reporter? Is currently teaching writing at Harvard University."

"Well, that's good. What about your father? I didn't know my adoptive father very long but in the two years I knew him, we had a lot of fun together."

"Dad is a little more complicated," Jordan said. "We were close at one point. But life has carried us in a different direction the past couple of years. His doing, not mine. And before you ask, I'll tell you the same thing I tell Mother and my brother -- he's the one who is out of sorts, he is the one who has to apologize and mend it, if he wants to. If you want anything more than that, you will have to ask him." She smiled slightly.

"Do you think that you'll ever get back to what you both used to have?"

"I'd like to think so, but... I don't know if that's possible for either of us. People do what they have to do," Jordan replied with a shrug. "You said it yourself, though not in so many words. There are as many different types of grief as there are ways of dealing with it; the same can be said of anything in life. Fear, disappointment, joy, excitement, pride... regret. It's what being an emotional being is all about. That's why your profession is interesting and relevant, am I right? My father's issues are his own. He's a good man, but he has a lot of guilt and a lot of regret that he thought he'd dealt with and then realized he hadn't. Or so I imagine. He looks at me and he sees his failures. But again. That's something he has to deal with. I'm... not ashamed of my life or my actions. And they're not a reflection on him."

"Well, I'm sorry that you have to deal with that situation. It can't be easy." She sat there for a moment. "I wish that I had known my dad. Two years just wasn't enough. I just found out accidentally that my mother and father once served on this ship. My mother was the CMO. She's still friends with the one that took her place, Dr. Maab. There is so much history on this ship and to think that my parents were a part of it. It's amazing. But I have never heard my parents talk about their time here. You don't really know your parents as much as you think, do you?"

"Sometimes, I guess you don't," Jordan replied, offering a small crooked smile. "Often I think it's difficult to see them as anything other than your parents, but I think that can be a good thing, just speaking as someone with the other perspective. What do you mean you found out 'accidentally'? I'd think that would be something she'd want to share -- that you were going to be serving on her old ship. Something that would bring the two of your closer together?"

"I think that it might be that she has bad memories. They met on this ship and got married here. I don't blame her. Eventually, she'll come to terms with it and maybe one day she'll feel comfortable talking about it." Kaori thought for a moment. "How long have you served on the Miranda? I'm sure you know a lot of the crew."

"Not many anymore," Jordan replied. "Most have moved on, with Murdock going to Starfleet Command. And I haven't been here too long. Fifteen months or so," Jordan replied. "I'm sure you've heard some tale about my, ah... first career. That didn't really bode well to ship service, unless there was some other purpose behind it. I've worked with the Old Man for almost ten years, though; used to be that was close to the same thing. Never met someone so tied to their ship -- or, who was anyway."

"Actually, I haven't heard anything about you. I'm sure that anything about you is probably classified, well, anything juicy that is. What is Murdock like anyway? I've heard some stories about him, not many though. Dr. Maab told a couple of funny stories but mostly about her husband."

Jordan was a little taken aback, looking at the woman somewhat peculiarly, trying to discern the validity of the statement. Most people played it down, at least a little; they politely stepped around the 'landmine' of her past out of respect or fear or just not wanting to deal with it (though there were the occasional few who brought it out into the open with a direct forward assault). Sure, nothing had ever been confirmed or denied, not publicly, but people loved to talk. Everyone knew someone who knew someone, had an exciting little snippet of revelation, maybe overheard something about the supposed trial or had seen one of the many reportedly leaked transcripts (that didn't exist) that might have mentioned her name. At the very least, they knew her father's status and made guesses from there. And those of the higher command ranks knew exponentially more.

The Section 31 revelations had, after all, been a pretty big deal.

"Have..." Jordan frowned, forehead creasing, suddenly very self aware. Absently, she pulled down her sleeves from where they'd been pushed above her elbow and then clasped her right hand over the fabric that now covered the black ink tattoo on the inside of her left wrist.

Have you been living under a rock the past two years? she wanted to ask. Who the hell are you?

"The Admiral's a good man," Jordan finally said, wetting her lips. "A very good man; I owe my life to him, and I think a lot of people can say that. He'll make an excellent addition to Starfleet Command, will... I think he's just the right person to clean up the mess we're in." Jordan slowly stood, offered a small smile. "I'll tell you more, at some point I'm sure. Get a few drinks in me, and the, ah... unclassified war stories tend to come out... But meanwhile, I've taken up more than enough of your time, Counselor. I should get back to my work and let you get back to yours."

"I actually liked the interruption. It was a nice break from the grind." She stood up. "If you ever have some free time, I'd like to take you up on that drink especially since I know no one here."

"Sure," Jordan replied, nodded. "You have to play as hard as you work, right? I usually finish up my day with a drink and some darts or something in the bar when we're cruising, or somewhere on the base. We'll all have to meet up some times. I'll see you around, Counselor. And don't let them get to you; they'll appreciate it when they need to."

The intelligence officer then slid out of the room with one final smile and disappeared down the hallway as silently as she'd entered.

“Staffing Issues”Edit

CPO Ascher Stahrke
Steward’s Mate Second Class Derek Haricks (NPC)
Senior Cooks Mate Terralin Gentril (NPC)

USS Miranda
Deck 2
Captain’s Mess Dining Area

“I see that you’re using the default cafeteria layout here, Haricks; was it the last Mess Officer’s decision to shift to it?”

“No way, Chief, that’s the way it’s been since they laid her keel – not to speak ill of the retired, but Chief Declan was the MO from like, the day they christened the ship, and he wasn’t one for changing things if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, yes I think I do…. Son, would you please explain to me what that is?”

“Ahhh…. A spork, Chief?”

“A spork.”

“Brand new, too, Chief – I just got a shipment in over the layover. Just like the ones from the Academy, only cooler. They’re specially-cast tritanium alloy, the same mixture as the ship’s hull. I went the extra mile and got them engraved with the ship’s name and motto, too – see?”

“You… ordered these? They’re not a part of the standard issue for the Captain’s Mess.”

“Yep, special order – I know a guy that makes them up for all the ships in the fleet. Got a fantastic deal since he owed me for bailing him out of some poker debt. Aren’t they great”

“You did fill out the paperwork to get reimbursed, right? Even at a ‘great deal’ they had to set you back a pretty credit.”

“Oh, no worries there, Chief – I used the Mess Fund to cover it.”

“The Mess Fund.”

“Sure, it was just sitting there, not doing anything – hadn’t been touched for ages, so I figured that I’d put it to good use.”

“You’re using cafeteria trays instead of plates, too – but these colors aren’t Fleet issue. Same friend as the… sporks?”

“No, I got those through a friend on the USS Dakkar – he gets them wholesale from some rim world where the colonists have trained local bugs to make ‘em instead of making components for their nests.”

They’re very… iridescent.”

“I know – I liked them as soon as I saw them. Devral - he’s the friend I got them from - says it’s some kind of secretion the bugs spit up into the glaze that gives them that sheen. See how the color changes when you tilt them?”

“Striking, very striking. Also the Mess Fund?”

“Definitely, Chief – I don’t make the money I’d need to in order to drop some down for something like these beauties.”

“No, I don’t suppose that you would. Kitchen crew in back?”

“Terry’s back there, yes.”

“Terry…. That would be… Senior Cooks Mate Terralin Gentril?”

“Right in one, Chief.”

“And the rest of the staff? The personnel list hasn’t been updated in a while, and the two of you are all that’s showing.”

“No need to update it, Chief – there isn’t anyone else, just us. We’re the Dream Team.”

“Dream… Team.”

“Oh yeah, I handle the physical stuff like running the dishes through the sanitizer and getting them back out and stuff, and Terry whips out the slops and serves them up – we don’t need anyone else. You’re a lucky man drawing this billet, Chief; you can sit back in the office and take it easy, ‘cause we’ve got your back!”

“Take it easy.”

“Chief Declan, he played a lot of card games; had himself a little unit that he said knew 150,000 variations on poker. I think he’d mastered up through 97,000 by the time his twenty were up. You don’t look like a poker man to me, though. I’m betting it’s the ladies with you.”

“The ladies?”

“Yeah, the ladies. Scuttlebutt says that you were shacked up with a nova-hot blueskin and ignored Port Control right up until they were about to close the boarding tubes down. Bill Tanner down in Security told me he saw her when she walked you to the ramp and said that she was so hot she burned footprints in the deck. So, I’m guessing your thing is the ladies – especially the alien hotties. You’re in luck, ‘cause there’s a rich field of ‘em to play aboard ship; I’m betting you’ll have plenty to occupy your time on the couch back there while…”

“I think that you really ought to stop there, Haricks, don’t you?”

“Stop…? Oh, yeah, I get it! Don’t want anyone to know, just like Chief Declan and his poker. Smart, Chief, real smart. The ladies, they like it when you’re all discrete and stuff, especially the officers when they come to get a little working-class lov…”

“Haricks?”

“Yes, Chief? Hey, are you all right? You’re looking kinda funny there.”

“I’m having trouble swallowing something.”

“Swallowed your spit wrong? Man I hate it when that happens!”

++++++++++

USS Miranda
Deck 2
Captain’s Mess Kitchen

“Terralin Gentril?”

“Morn’in Chief. Pleased t’meet yuh.”

“Layout looks standard back here, too.”

“Likely so.”

“Anything changed from what the default layout is in the manual?”

“Nope.”

“Anything you’d like to change?”

“Nope.”

“All right then… what’s on today’s menu?”

“Same’s always.”

“Bear with me here, Terralin – what, exactly does that mean?”

“Same’s always means same’s always. Chief Declan, he weren’t much on variety, so he just picked a menu for each day and we stuck with it every week.”

“Picked a menu for each day.”

“Yep.”

“Used the same menu set every week.”

“Yep.”

“Holidays? Did you change the menus for those?”

“Just Christmas, Chief – that’s different.”

“What do you serve then?”

“Turkey – ‘cept it’s really the compressed turkey loaf from Stores. Dressing – the dehydrated kind. Some vegetables – depends on what they’ve got in Stores that day. And pie.”

“Fresh baked?”

“Nope. Frozen. Usually one of them apple ones with the little crinkled edges. Makes it look all classy-like.”

“You pull your menu ingredients from Central Stores? What do you do if they’re out?”

“If they’re out, we drop the item until they get it back.

“No substitutions?”

“Nope.”

“You don’t store anything here in the attached pantry?”

“Nope, no room.”

“No… room? What’s in there if you’re not storing food?”

“Haricks’ stuff.”

“Haricks’ stuff? What stuff?”

“His stuff, y’know, the stuff he sells on the side t’the crew.”

“Sells… on the side. To the crew.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Like…?”

“You know, the usual.”

“Enlighten me- we didn’t get a lot of variety at my last duty station.”

“Oh, I gotcha. One’a them strict shops, eh?”

“Something like that.”

“Here, lemme show ‘ya – Haricks won’t mind. Chief Declan used to check all the time anyway t’make sure Haricks wasn’t shorting him on his slice.”

“His… slice.”

“Yep. He’s likely waiting until you have your look-see before he starts t’talking credits with you. But between you and me…”

“Yes?”

“Chief Declan got nineteen percent – don’t let him short you.”

“I’ll… remember that. Thanks.”

“No problem, Chief. Got to look out for each other, right? And here y’are.”

“Ah… right. Is that Cardassian Sand Wine… and… women’s underwear?”

“Uh-huh; those’re Romulan Blackfire Cloth panties – real popular with the young Ensigns he says. Say, you all right, Chief? You’re looking a bit off there.”

“Just some trouble swallowing something.”

“Gotcha. Happens to me sometimes while I’m cooking and there’s nothing to do but….”

++++++++++

To: Director, Miranda Enlisted Personnel Pool
From: Chief Petty Officer Ascher Stahrke
CC: COB
Subject: Captain’s Mess Personnel Reassignment

Owing to the anticipated reduced staffing needs in the Captain’s Mess for the foreseeable future, I request that the following internal lateral personnel transfer requests from the personnel currently assigned to the Captain’s Mess be given all due consideration:

Senior Cooks Mate Terralin Gentril from his current position to the open slot on the internal job board for a Senior Mechanic’s Mate in the Machine Shop. Terralin’s prior experience was with that same job position, and, time as a cook notwithstanding, I believe that he will be able to truly become an asset to the Shop if allowed to transfer back to a department where his metalworking talents can be fully utilized.

Steward’s Mate Second Class Derek Haricks from his current position to the open slot on the internal job board for a Quartermaster’s Mate Second Class. Derek’s advanced organizational skills, go-getting personal initiative, and extensive contact network throughout the fleet make him, in my opinion, an ideal fit for the department, and a lost asset to the ship in his current position and classification.

I must stress that this is an administrative transfer request owing to the reduced staffing needs of the Captain’s Mess at this time, not a disciplinary action.

At this time, I anticipate no further personnel transfers, in or out, from the Captain’s Mess.

CPO Ascher Stahrke
Captain’s Mess Officer

Attachments:
Personnel File, Derek Haricks
Transfer Papers, Derek Haricks
Personnel File, Terralin Gentril
Transfer Papers, Terralin Gentril

"Scent of a Woman"Edit

Lt. Gazer of Stars
Lt. Aurelia Jaxom

USS Miranda Main Science Lab

Aurelia's nervousness about finally meeting the Science chief was momentarily forgotten as the doors to the science lab opened. A very pungent odor permeated the air.

She wrinkled up her nose. "What's that smell?"

"Urine, obviously", came a voice from behind long row of equipment piled towards the center of the lab. A pink, ratlike tail squiggled like a python above it. "I am in the process of marking my territory. What do you need in Sciences?"

"Ah," She replied, knowing she'd be looking up *that* particular Kzinti custom later on. "Lt. Jaxom, Sir. I'm here to meet with you."

The tail vanished, and a very large head of dark orange fur popped out above some of the less portable microscopes. "Jaxom?" it asked? "Hmmm...JaxomJaxomJaxomJaxom.... What form of creature are you, Jaxom?"

"Human," Aurelia replied, a bit startled. She'd never had anyone ask her that particular question before; she was as human as they came.

The head vanished from behind the equipment, and from behind the equipment Aurelia could hear a familiar zipping sound amongst feline growls and hisses. The growl increased in volume and pitch just before a thin and wiry Kzinti vaulted gracefully over the cluttered workbench to land almost silently on his thick, padded hind claws. "No, Aurelia Jaxom... I could smell your humanity from across the room. What I meant was, what is your discipline as a scientist?"

She had just barely kept herself from jumping. "Oh. Psychology, Sir."

"Psychology?" The Kzinti scientist's nose twitched as though he had caught scent of a Klingon latrine. "By the Fanged God, what crime did you commit for them to force you into *that* field of study? Was it murder? Patricide? Hmmmm? You do look like the type."

"Really? Huh, I always assumed I appeared more bookish than homicidal."

Gazer of Stars looked at the female and snorted. "It's been my understanding that the more successful human murderers are typically more intelligent and well educated than the rest of the herd, but I could be mistaken - I'm a Physicist, not a Psychologist." He loped past Aurelia and looked out the corridor both fore and aft before closing the door to the lab with an extended talon. "Well, no use in wailing over spoiled meat", he said. "What do you wish to accomplish on the Miranda, Lieutenant Aurelia Jaxom?"

"A new start," Aurelia said promptly. "To feel rewarded by my work again. To make new discoveries, have a feeling of accomplishment. To be useful."

"In Psychology?", Gazer asked, his parasol-like ears focusing on on the human female. "I don't think that's at all possible. Perhaps if I foster you in a more 'scientific' discipline such as Physics...."

"Uh ..."

"No?" The Kzinti licked his fangs and shrugged. "Well, perhaps another time then. In the mean time, you may settle in Lab four - I would like to use your particular field of study for missions dealing with alien cultures. As such, you will be leading the scientific efforts on such away-team missions. You're cleared for field work, yes?"

"Yes I am," Aurelia said with a relieved smile. She had always found Physics to be a pain in the ass. "Is there an assignment for me yet?"

"Other than securing the equipment you need from Ops? No." Gazer at Stars' tail whipped noisily along the deck plates in irritation. "The Captain has not informed the Senior Staff of our new objective, so preparing for one would be superfluous. Are you certain I can't interest you in a better scientific field? Chemisty? Xeno-biology? Geology?"

"No thank you, Sir."

"And you're certain your posting is on the Miranda? I understand the Galaxy has high demand for individuals in your field."

"So I've heard," She replied. "But I think I will be more useful here."

Gazer's thick, bushy eyebrows arched at the idea of a 'helpful psychologist' on his staff, but offered no verbal opinion. "Then go to Lab Four and mark your territory accordingly - and Lieutenant... should you wish to revenge yourself on the one who forced you into Psychology, I am at your service."

She at least understood enough about the Kzinti now to know that he was dead serious. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Do that - and... I suppose it could be worse, Aurelia Jaxom", the Chief Scientist said, offering a Kzinti form of condolences. "It could have been Botany." Gazer then looked squarely at Aurelia and his bright, green eyes seemed to gloss over. Took several shallow, delicate sniffs of the air during the uncomfortable stare, and it was almost a minute before his eyes came back into focus. "Your mate is on board. Is this a problem for you, Aurelia Jaxom?"

"Ex-mate," Aurelia replied a bit sharply. She inhaled deeply, telling herself it wasn't an unreasonable question, and then promptly wished she hadn't. The room still reeked. "I don't see it as a problem unless he comes in here at starts interfering with my work." Her curiosity overcame her defensiveness. "Did you ... smell that or read my file?"

"I don't read personnel files", the Kzinti growled. "And your scent markers aren't *that* pungent. No... for lack for a better word, it's apparent on your aura. It shows an 'incompleteness', a wound, if you will. I've 'seen' it often in species that form lasting bonds with their mates. This 'ex' mate of yours... is he the interfering type?"

Aurelia found the idea of auras intriguing even if she didn't like what Gazer of Stars apparently saw in hers. "Only if something or someone is messing with his precious ship."

That raised Gazer's hairy eyebrows. "Elaithin Jii is your ex-mate?"

She laughed. "No! His name is Jamus Jaxom - the Chief Engineer. Jay's really devoted to the ships he works on, Sir. It may be Elaithin's ship but I guarantee you it's already Jaxom's baby."

"Thank the Fanged God", the Kzinti muttered. His one prior encounter with the Bajoran Captain had not gone to his liking, and Gazer wanted to thoroughly establish both his credentials and territory before he had another. "Well... it's unlikely you'd be involved in applied science projects, so you shoudn't encounter any of Jamus Jaxom's.... hrhaaar... 'interference'. Should any occur... professionally, of course... I will need to know. I'll leave retaliation for any personal interference in your... hmmmmm... 'capable' hands."

"Thank you, Sir," Aurelia replied politely. She could see that she was going to have to work extra hard to impress Gazer of Stars - not that she hadn't planned on doing that in the first place. "If you'll excuse me, I'd like to go set up my station in the Lab."

The Kzinti nodded, then snorted as he limped away to his workstation to contemplate his next task.

~How then, to mark my territory on the main bridge.... Hmmmmrrrhaaarrr~

“She’s ALIVE”Edit

Lt. Jamus Jaxom – Chief Engineer
SCPO. Lorelai, MacRae – Engineering Systems Specialist
&
The Fine Men & Women Of The Engineering Crew

Main Engineering

“… and so I believe this ship has the finest engineering crew in the fleet. “ Jaxom just finished a short motivational speech which most likely wasn’t needed, but he felt he needed to let his crew know just how he felt. The refit and all other work was now a full thirty-six hours ahead of schedule.

Because of that, they would be able to fire up the slipstream core early. This was something that everyone was eager to do now that they knew the Miranda was equipped with one. Jamus, especially after his little chat with the ship’s first officer, wanted to test the ship’s power systems and free her from the starbase’s umbilicals.

“So then,” Jamus went on, “Are we ready to fire this baby up?”

A round of whoops, hollers, and ‘hell yeahs’ rang out throughout the cavernous room.

“All right then, let’s get to our stations.” Jaxom shook his fist in the air and assumed his position at the ‘pool table’ in the control area.

"Alright, you heard the Lieutenant!" MacRae bellowed at the assembled crew as she clapped her hands together. "Man your stations!" She watched the crew scurry to their posts and she took up a position at the systems console. The pool table would so just about everything to Jaxom while she could monitor the key systems from here and report back.

“Start the coolant pumps,” Jaxom ordered as he checked the status of the warp core cooling system on his screen. Super cooling fluid now circulated around the core and surrounding plasma conduits to keep it all from overheating.

“Plasma coolant pressure steady and within safe limits.” MacRae read from her console. The one thing they didn’t want was an overpressure coolant leak. It wouldn’t risk the core in its un-initialized state but the agent used within the gas was a level five biohazard and could liquefy skin on contact - clearly not something you wanted leaking into the atmosphere.

Jamus fought to keep his voice calm. It wasn’t every day a core was cold started, let alone a slipstream core. “Open the deuterium valves one half percent.” That was all that was needed to get things started. Next a small stream of anti-matter would be added to the mix… but first… “Anti-matter containment field check?” he asked Jenkins, who was across the room at another control console.

“F N P sir!” was the reply, meaning ‘function in normal parameters’.

“Extend the magnetic containment field,” Jaxom ordered next giving a nod to MacRae. The magnetic ‘bottle’ that the anti-deuterium was kept in needed to extend partially into the warp core so the anti-matter wouldn’t meet up with the sides of interior of the core too soon. Naturally, the only thing the anti-deuterium should collide with was the deuterium already streaming in from above.

"Extending containment." MacRae reported. She glanced across at the intermix chamber. "Beam confinement in place."

Once the instrumentation showed the appropriate readings, Jaxom went on to the next step. “Check the dilithium crystal alignment.”

"Articulation frame is aligned and stabilized." MacRae replied. She turned on her chair to face Jaxom and simply said. "It's time."

“All right people, here we go... commencing primary ignition,” He looked around the room grinning like a school kid about to turn on a new toy. “Start the anti-matter feed, point oh one two percent.”

Everyone in the room watched the core. A small spark was seen inside the opaque column, then a few more in rapid succession quickly followed by a warm, orange shaded glow.

The Miranda’s heart was beating.

“Quite a sight, don’t you think?” MacRae said as she approached Jaxom, keeping her eyes on the core as she moved towards the pool table. "Just like the Jupiter rise."

Jamus, now realizing he was holding his breath, allowed himself to exhale. “Aye, a thing of absolute beauty she is.”

The rest of the engineering staff was congratulating themselves and high fiving each other.

“Now, we slowing bring her up to speed. Once we’re generating enough of our own juice, we can tell the Starbase to take their umbilicals and shove’em.”

“You DID it sir!” Jenkins was pumping Jaxom’s hand in an over enthusiastic handshake.

“No lad,” Jamus admonished him, “WE did it. And don’t you forget it.”

"Misappropriation"Edit

Commander Joral Anton, Executive Officer
Staff Ensign Elihu "Wash" Washburn, Executive Officer's Adjutant, (NPC)
Yeoman First Class Mitena Arlin, Executive Officer's Yeoman, (NPC)
Crewman Lucas Coleman, Executive Officer's Steward, (NPC)

Executive Officer's Office, Deck Two

Any personnel who regularly walked down the forward port transverse corridor on deck two had already learned in the past week that random shouting and cursing could easily be expected coming from the Executive Officer's Office. What they weren't used to was the door opening and a pair of PADDs flying out, which promptly shattered on the opposite wall. A young Bolian Yeoman scurried out, snatched the pieces off the floor with little more than a glance at the various stunned personnel standing in the hall, and slipped back into the office, the doors sliding closed behind her - though not before a very loud voice echoed around the deck, "Gods dammit, Wash, I thought I tol..."

The sound was mercifully cut off by the closing doors.

Business continued in the corridor as usual.

++++++++++

In the office, however, the source of both the shouting and the impromptu-projectile PADDs was decidedly red in the face. His hapless aide was cowering away from his boss, hoping like hell that he and the yeoman were only there to listen to the Commander's anger, and were not in fact the source of it.

"They have no frakking idea! None!"

Ensign Washburn nodded fervently, taking heart in the usage of the third-person plural, operating on the assumption that it implicated someone other than himself as the cause of Joral's rage. Yeoman Arlin, meanwhile, simply returned to her desk in the anteroom, having become rather used to the Commander's fantastical changes in mood in the previous two years that she had worked for him on the Prospero.

"This is supposed to be a ship-of-the-line, dammit!" the XO continued, heedless of his new adjutant's apparent terror. Having never had one before (his previous rank not having merited one), he was unsure of what exactly Mr. Washburn's job was supposed to be. As far as he was concerned, the position existed so that Joral could have someone to yell at without distracting his yeoman from the actual work.

"Ten days of solid requests, and the Quartermaster's Corps still thinks it's fun to keep us in the lurch?" He slapped the comm unit on his desk. "Coleman! Where's the damn coffee?" He slapped it off again without waiting for a reply, and Washburn decided that it would be unwise to point out that Joral had not actually ordered coffee yet. "Engineering got this boat turn on faster than an Orion in prison, Tactical has given us enough guns to blow a big damned hole through Titan if we felt like it, and Ops hasn't bitched once. But we've barely got enough onboard foodstuffs for a week, the tailors shop has absolutely zero spare enlisted tunics to work with, and Cargo Bay Two is full of spare parts that only fit an obsolete sensor array that we replaced last month! And all t'Stron is getting is the same bullshit story from them that I am, that all our requisitions are given priority processing, and everything we've requested is showing as received on our end. Meanwhile, I have the damned accounting guys screaming at me about 'misappropriation' or some other such ludicrous..."

His tirade was halted in its tracks by the appearance of the nineteen year-old kid who had the misfortune of having been assigned as the XO's steward. Setting down a tray, he placed a pot of coffee on the desk, along with a pair of empty cups and an already full one which he set in front of the XO, who wordlessly took a sip... and promptly stated coughing.

Holding the cup in front of him, he asked, "Coleman, what the hell is this?!?"

The aide smiled at his boss. "That would be my 'special blend', Sir."

Joral sniffed the cup, and took a tentative sip. Raising an eyebrow he looked up at the steward, who wore an innocent enough expression on his face. "Coleman, your special blend appears to be mostly whiskey."

"Rye, actually... and only about a third."

Wash looked horrified, but Joral just contemplated his cup and drained its contents. Pouring a new cup, he took a sip, and immediately looked disappointed.

"Ah..." Coleman shuffled his feet. "The pot is just straight coffee, boss. I didn't think you needed too much of a jolt there."

Nodding, the Bajoran XO motioned to the remaining empty chair, and - surprised and grateful - the steward sat. Joral leaned forward, steepling his fingers. "Dare I ask where you got the Rye, Luke?"

Coleman smiled. "There's a guy in the supply locker, used to work in the Captain's Mess, ran a bit of a black market contraband op out of the pantry. Personal supplies of liquor, sedatives, civvie clothes, apparently a couple of interesting pieces of 'recreational' furniture once... Anyway, the new mess chief didn't take too kindly to that, so he shuffled the guy over to Supply a couple days back, and Ensign t'Stron apparently has a keener eye than most, so this guy needed to off-load a bunch of his stuff at a 'discounted rate', as it were."

Joral did his best not to laugh, then looked at the cup again. "Well, go ahead and have Yeoman Arlin pull you a credit transfer for the amount of this bottle and write it off as 'organizational material'. It was well worth it."

The Steward's face became positively catlike. "Ain't necessary, boss. I told this guy that 'the XO hisself' was liable to come down and check out some 'irregularities' in the supply manifests, and he just sort of tossed three bottles of this stuff at me." He motioned to the tray on the table. "A french press and that whole set, too. Oh, and I took the liberty of asking Mitena about some of your proclivities..." At the XO's stern look, he quickly corrected himself. "Nothin' like that, boss. You're on your own for finding anythin' you want in that department, I don't want to know. But anyway, long story short, Mitena's got a full case of that Lagavulin sitting under her desk for you."

Wash had been watching this whole exchange with escalating concern that any minute the XO - who was rumored to be a bit of a hard-ass when it came to regs - was going to snap the kid in half. Instead, the ship's Exec was smirking, and just nodded, motioning for Coleman to go ahead and return to his other duties. As the steward started out the door, Washburn suddenly had a flash of inspiration and snagged the Commander's PADD. "Mr. Coleman."

The steward turned, somewhat surprised that the adjutant had found his voice.

"Sir?"

"This guy down in supply, he have a name?"

Coleman looked nervous. "Well now, Ensign, I don't want to be gettin' anyone in trouble..."

Wash nodded. "That's fine, Ensign. Just do us a favor. Take this list and go peruse the merchandise, see if anything looks familiar, and if it doesn't take a quick look-see at what he does have, and make me up a list... see if maybe some of the money is matching up... at which point, you understand, we will be wanting that name."

Coleman took the PADD, eyes wide, and nodded, scurrying out the door. Wash turned back towards his boss, suddenly remembering Joral was there, and was surprised to see the XO smirking and shaking his head. "Knew I hired you for something."

"Sir?"

Joral raised a brow. "Good catch, Wash. You may just survive this yet."

“Old Friends”Edit

Ensign Hren t’Stron
Dr Jerry Wolfson

Starbase

She had seen Jerry’s familiar frame pushing through the crush of the promenade . She had intended to drop by sickbay or the rec. deck to deliver her greetings, but Hren had never been one to turn down opportunity when it presented itself. She eagerly began threading her way through the sea of sentients. She stopped her approach when she saw his body turn wooden. His focus devoted to the approaching auburn haired human woman.

Hren estimated the woman to be attractive by human standards had she not been wearing an expression of disdain and revulsion, which of course intrigued the Rihannsu. Hren had served with the doctor for nearly a year and had never seen or heard of anyone having an issue with the physician, which this woman obviously did. The concourse was too busy for her sensitive ears to make out the conversation, so she dedicated herself to watching their body language instead.

The doctor’s face was caught between loathing and grief, while hers was molten with her disdain and anger. Hren surmised that they had been at least romantically involved in the past, perhaps even more seriously committed. One generally didn’t hold onto so much emotion after things had ended unless there had been a dedication of resources to an association. The doctor’s restraint seemed almost physical, whatever urge he was fighting he apparently was winning, while the viperous woman seemed intent to goad him into some action.

Hren, a skilled negotiator and student of the races, decided she didn’t like the woman. While her appearance was perfectly coifed, her clothes expensively fashionable, it did little to cover the lack of depth of personality or the haughty air of privilege that seemed to surround her in a venomous aura. Hren had seen this kind of person before. The memories came too freely, she turned away briefly, reaching for inner balance again. Turning back, she saw the conversation end. Both parties turned opposite directions and parted ways without the intention of crossing paths again.

Her experience with Jerry Wolfson made her take his side. Elements would get their revenge on the woman of that Hren was sure, but even the Elements could use assistance from time to time, she thought. A slow grin came to her face, one that had anyone else been paying attention they would have found disturbing on the normally affable countenance of the young Rihannsu Ensign.

The red head, Hren learned thanks to the woman and her friends loud conversation, was named Helen and was Jerry’s ex-wife. She felt her earlier assessment of Helen was generally accurate. Helen had a general contempt for nearly everyone in Star Fleet and felt superior to anyone who made their living in space. In another life, her revenge would have taken a different far more permanent effect. Life in the Triangle was not for the squeamish or meek, but that life had been one that she had left behind she reminded herself. While she had never made a profession of pick pocketing, her skills were sufficient to accomplish what she had in mind now.

Helen’s own arrogance worked in Hren’s favor as she bumped against the smaller woman. Helen gave an outraged hrmph at being jostled by a lesser creature, but would not actually deign to make eye contact with her assailant. Hren’s quick hands made contact with her intended target, the wallet stashed what Helen must have thought cleverly hidden in the stylish jacket. Hren mumbled an apology, and exited the concourse with casual elegance.

She walked into more quiet shopping districts to analyze her prize. The wallet held a couple hundred credits, several credit cards, and her intergalactic passport. A slow smile found her lips. The loss of the money and cards a mere nuisance, replaced with minor effort. The passport, however on this far side of space was going to put a crimp in her vacation plans. She pocketed the cash and headed to a fine alcohol boutique, buying the finest bottle of scotch in the shop thanks to Helen’s generous donation. That task done she headed down to the Star Fleet accessible hallways, where she promptly found a disposal hatch that ensure the destruction of the remainder of the wallet, including the passport that eliminated all connection with Hren herself.

With a jaunty spring in her stride she returned to the Miranda with gift in hand. Jerry had looked like someone had killed his favorite dog when Hren had last seen him. She hoped that she would be able to cheer him up with a friendly face and a good bottle of libation. Her memory served her well through the twisting hallways of the Miranda and within minutes she buzzed the door.

++++++++++

USS Miranda

Jerry wasn't the type of man to mope. He'd had enough of that in his life after the Horizon's destruction. Yes, it hurt to see Helen again. Yes, it made him worried about his daughter. But there wasn't really anything he could do about it. Helen would live her life as she so chose. In the meantime, his parents would watch out for Kenzie. It just was hard to encounter more reminders that there were some things that he just couldn't fix.

When the buzzer rang, he was rather startled. He wasn't expecting anyone. And it certainly wouldn't be someone on official business - no communicator buzzing for one, and no messages left on the terminal for another. It could, of course, be someone looking for his roommate. No matter. Best answer the door.

When the door first slid open, he wasn't sure what he was expecting. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't what he found.

She didn't look like she'd aged a day. Then again, the woman was Rihannsu. Long lived came as a matter of course to that lot. Last time he saw her was the day he'd said goodbye on the Constellation. "Hren?" he asked, astonished. Apparently he'd lost command of his ability to string more than one word together to make a sentence. This was certainly a day for surprises.

But this particular surprise came bearing gifts. Rather expensive scotch-like gifts if he didn't miss his guess.

"I come bearing gifts. Although I do feel it my duty to remind you that your people have a cautionary adage of my people and gifts." She said with an impish grin that made her look puckish as she offered Jerry the scotch.

"Thank you," he said, accepting the offered bottle. "Can't say I'd refuse a gift like this. Come in, come in!" He stepped to the side of the door and gestured for her to enter. "Blimey, it's been a while. How are you, Hren? What're you doing here? Thought you'd still be on the Constellation."

"I've been re-assigned, and as the Elements would have it to the Miranda. And as I am a terrible work-aholic, as Quartermaster and Supply Officer, I wanted to make sure that you had everything you needed for your famed and fabulous leave taking party. I was quite a fan of the last one and wanted to contribute to the success of your next." She replied as she acquiesced to his request, stepping smoothly across the threshold and past his gesturing hands.

I can see that you have continued your love of moving." She said wryly gesturing towards the remaining pile of his things on the bed.

Jerry's lips quirked into a smile. "Hate doing it. Be much better if my things would magically appear in the right spots without the whole toting and unpacking things, but after all this time I doubt it'll ever happen. I'll get to it eventually. I'm glad that you're here, though, Hren. We definitely need plenty of supplies for the party." Moving to the dresser, he opened one of his half-full drawers to pull out his PADD. He'd been jotting down notes as they came to him, of things he'd need for the recreation deck and for the party.

After he removed the PADD, he handed it to Hren before he opened another drawer and withdrew two mismatched glasses. "Drink?" he offered.

"I'm told the requisitioning of mythical creatures for those sorts of tasks is more headache than it's worth. I would love a drink. The shop keeper assured me that this is the finest bottle in the quadrant, having been made in Inverness and aged for decades before making it's way into his humble shop. He was a Tellerite, so I don't know if his understanding of human alcohols is sound, but he drove a hard bargain." She said taking the glass Jerry's offered. "So what sort of list have you concocted so far?"

"I checked the manifest to see the number of species we've got onboard. Can't afford to kill anyone on my watch because they tried to eat something that disagrees with them. There are either ready- made snacks or the components to make snacks in that list. Also a few requisitions for chairs that are specific per species. Can't make a Sulamid sit in a human-type chair, after all. Got a request in for more alcohol, too," he replied. "Don't want to completely take out what we've got to supply the pub."

"The cooks will take care of identifying consumables safe for ingestion based on racial profiles. I don't think protein bars for everyone is exactly festive." Hren smirked at the thought of everyone at the farewell mixer standing about with cardboard tasting protein bars. "The chairs should be easily managed, the conference rooms are required to maintain a supply of chairs for diplomats and visiting officials. An alcohol is a specialty of mine, what delights were you thinking of serving, or do we serve the rest of the crew cheap beer and keep the good stuff for ourselves. Are you going to want decorations?" She continued on addressing his bullet items conversationally adding notes of her own and sipping the scotch.

Her chrono beeped, indicating her shift had completed while Jerry and she had been talking. She was surprised that her brief stop had turned into an hour. "I hadn't expected to take so much of your time Jerry, I apologize. Well it appears I have work to do, no rest for the wicked you know, and I've heard that the recreation director is a tough one. I would hate to disappoint him. I'll let you know if we need to make adaptions due to supply shortages. And I'll let you know when and where the roaming poker game is when it reconvenes. I look forward to taking more of your money."

Jerry smiled. "S'alright. I look forward to the poker game, though I'm planning on taking some of your money this time. Been practicing, after all. Let me know when you've got those requisitions. I'll be sending out a message to the crew, informing them of the time for the party." After a moment, he added, "I'm glad you're here, Hren. It's good to see a familiar face."

"Indeed, as space riff raff of the truest kind, a familiar face is the closest thing to home." a shadow crossed her face for the briefest a moments. A pain laid there in her statement that didn't have a name. "I hope you have been practicing a poker face as well as the polishing your skills, I've learned some interesting variations on my last shore leave." Hren said quickly, agilely turning away from the hurt.

Jerry's expression softened, though he didn't mention anything about the hurt that had crossed Hren's face. He didn't think calling attention to it would be something she'd want. "I have an excellent poker face, my friend," he replied instead. "I'll wait in anticipation of learning those variations."

"Ha!" Hren tossed her head back with a hearty laugh. "You have the poker face of a Klingon whose honor has just been insulted." The ensign sounded as if she had first hand knowledge of such a sight. "You should work on your lying too." She jibbed playfully as she made her way to the hall. "Drop by anytime you want to test this newly discovered skill." her green eyes twinkled with deviltry.

"Oi! That's insulting, that is," he said, protesting her accusation for a moment before he started laughing. "I look forward to facing you over that table, Hren. I'll enjoy counting your money."

"You keep telling yourself that, history is not in your favor."

He laughed again. "Give me a call when you've got the chairs, Hren. I'll see you later."

"Good Night Jerry."

"Miles to Go"Edit

Ensign Hren t'Stron
USS Miranda

Hren was shocked at the mountain of requests that had accrued in her absence. She had made the mistake of checking her messages after leaving Jerry's quarters. The list of requisition requests had sky-rocketed in a matter of hours. The kitchens had a list longer than her ancestral lineage, everything from flour to Andorian Relthberries. Engineering had an equally long list, including an entire shuttle bay full of parts that needed to be returned for models that were actually used on the the Miranda. She was unsure whether she had inherited cluster flop left by the departing quartermaster or if remaining department heads were testing their limits with the new supply chief.

She had already ferreted out the black market supplier in the department. She would have been willing to over the look Ensign Davis’s operation if the books and the store logs had matched, indicating that he had used his own money as the starts of his business venture. But it was obvious to her experienced eye that he had used Federation stores as the seed money so to speak. She would have to deal that soon. However with the looming supply deadline that would have to wait.

Her growing frustration with bean counters simmered under the surface as she worked late into the night. She had placed so many communiqués in the last eight hours that she was now on a first name basis with most of the communications crew of the Miranda.

“You do know what time is on Star Base 1, Hren?”

“Indeed I do. But if I am not allowed to sleep why should Lt Commander Williams? He has been sitting on the requests for 4 days now. I will take all responsibility for waking the commander, Beth.”

“Ok.” the young communication officer replied still hesitant.

The comm beeped for minutes before being picked up by a disheveled man. “WHAT!! Do you know what time it is?!!”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I am aware that it is 2:47am local time. Do you know that you still have not signed my paperwork?” Hren replied as tartly.

“I haven’t had time to review it completely, call me tomorrow Ensign t’Stron.” Curtis Williams said trying to put off the Miranda's quartermaster.

“You have had four days to adequately review them, I am hours from departing Star Base 616, who won’t release my items until it has approval from Star Fleet headquarters, which you have not done, so by the elements you are going to approve them now. I got you Rigellian amber Curtis, and this is how you repay me??”

“I paid through the nose for that.” He countered angling for an edge to deal with the very annoyed Rihannsu.

“You knew what it was going to cost before we made the deal. And you got exactly what you paid for, no defects and no delays. I’m not asking for anything so vain or outrageously difficult to obtain. I’m asking for enlisted duty uniforms, laundry detergent, sensor array equipment, and food provisions, so that one week out we won’t be eating protein bars. Star Base 1 is a prime assignment, you won’t want to lose it so soon Curtis.” her patience wearing thin.

“There are regulations that need to be followed here Hren. I have a lot on my plate. I simply can’t approve it sight unseen. I swear I'll get to it as soon as possible.” He turned his tact attempting to pacify the Rihannsu.

“Sign the papers.” Hren demanded.

“Well, maybe if you could get me a shipment of Romulan spring wine.” He said pushing his luck.

“Don’t make this get personal Curtis. Sign the papers. It would be a shame if it were to come to light that you were importing illegal Ferengi Spice.” She replied calmly her exhaustion demanding that this game be cut short.

“That’s extortion!!”

“No, It’s blackmail. Extortion is when I threaten you with having your knee caps busted up so badly that even today’s modern medical equipment will be unable to make you ever walk again.” Hren replied her voice deadly even and cold. Her eyes pierced through the commander even through the parsecs that separated them. Curtis paled visibly, he had seen the look before and seen the consequences of it as well. He scrambled at the computer desk. Moments passed with flurried movement.

“It’s done.” He replied breathless.

“Excellent doing business with you Lt Commander Williams.” She cut the communiqué off briskly. She knew that she might have burnt a bridge there, but she was too tired to care. His own greed would limit his career soon enough. She had seen that kind before. The Triangle had taught her many lessons, one of the most important she had learned by watching others, and that was that greed kills, be it a figuratively as in a career or literally.

She grimaced, she should schedule her mandatory counseling session. Her last reprimand had ordered bi-weekly sessions. She sighed as she rose. "Let Counseling earn their money. They can hunt me down." she muttered to her PADD. Another trip to Star Base 616 she thought wearily but at least she wouldn't worry about starving to death. She buzzed the Gamma shift supply enlisted. There would be a lot of loading and unloading to be done in the next hours.

"New Roomies"Edit

Jamus Jaxom
Dominic Oreias Aquillo Carneiro

"Their" Cabin

Now that the warp core was started up and the Miranda was operating under her own power, Jamus finally felt he could take a short break. He had literally lived in his office in since coming aboard and now it was time to unpack his things and straighten out his cabin. At the moment, he was sorting through his oil paints deciding which colors would need to be replenished before leaving the starbase.

There was a sound behind him, and Jamus turned to see the doors to his quarters open. Behind them stood a tall, rather thin human in a yellow hoodie track jacket and white canvas pants. There was a backpack draped over his shoulders, and he dragged behind him a rigid, but collapsable, wheeled crate. He slowly whirled around as he stepped inside, letting his occupied arm wrap around him like a belt.

"Dude, cumpadi, these are way nicer digs than the enlisted quarters. This place is primo, brah!" the man said in a sing-song accent as he looked around the room, but then thought better of it and added, "Comparatively, ta ligado?"

"Aye?" Jamus peered at the newcomer. "You must be the roommate I heard I was getting?"

"Yeah, I guess. This is where I was told to go, at least," the human said.

Jamus stood up introducing himself, "I'm Jamus Jaxom, the chief engineer." He was understandably unsure how to take the new arrival. Getting to know new roommates was always an adventure.

"The chief engineer?" the kid repeated. "How old are you?"

"Thirty," Jamus answered wondering what that had to do with anything.

"Thirty! Dude, you're, like, ancient! Why'd they pair us together?" he asked. "Aren't department heads supposed to get their own quarters? Private quarters, ta me entendendo?"

"Apparently not on this ship," Jamus answered now wishing it wasn't true.

"Oh right, taka," he said, and held out his left hand before realizing he had done so. Then, he let go of the wheeled crate and grabbed Jamus' hand with his right. "I'm Oreias. Um, well, Dominic Oreias Aquillo Carneiro, if you want the full thing. Dom, Nico, Ori - whatever you want to call me."

"What do you prefer then?" Jamus asked.

Oreias shrugged and gave a small hum, indicating he didn't care. He was studying the spots running up along the side of Jamus' face. "Interesting tats," he said.

Jamus heard that question a lot among people that had never encountered a Trill before. It was a common misconception. "They aren't tattoos. They're pigmentations we Trill are born with."

"What's a Trill?" the human immediately returned.

Jamus was slightly taken aback but hoped he didn't show it. Last he checked, extra-terrestrial cultures was still a required course at the Academy. "You really have no idea?"

Again, Oreias shrugged. "You an alien? Or, like, from some wierd human colony somewhere?" he asked, but then, corrected himself, "I mean, um, some unique colony, sabe? With a culture that is to be 'respected and celebrated' or whatever, e o caralho."

Jamus visibly winced. It had been said by some people he served with on the USS Columbia that he had no sense of humor. This, of course, was not true. "Yes," he answered plainly after a short, thoughtful pause.

"Do you people do anything wierd... that should be 'respected and celebrated,' that I should know about?" the human asked, eyeing him curiously. "Like explode in your sleep, or drink blood, or stink, or anything?"

"Yes," he answered again with a smug, self satisfying smile as he went back to putting his paint set back in order.

Oreias laughed, and flashed his fist with his thumb and pinkie outstretched, "Cool!" He backed away to lower his backpack to the ground. "So, you're the chief engineer, eh, mano? I can double as an engineer, sabe?"

"Really now?"

"Yeah. I mean, I'm a pilot," he said, "but, I passed a few of the academy quals. And, I've had quite a number of mechanical jobs out in the real world."

"What kind of mechanical jobs if you don't mind me askin'?" Jamus 'had' to hear this.

"Uh, well, I did construction in high school. Building skyscrapers. Or, a skyscraper, I guess. I was only around long enough for one project, sacau?" Oreias explained as he unzipped his bag and began to pull out his cloths. "And, uh, then I worked as a large-scale fusion generator mechanic, on those big fusion lamps in Saturn's atmosphere. And I was cargo pilot, which is not really a mechanics job, but we were largely responsible for the upkeep of our own rockets. And, of course, Flight's in charge of maintaining all the ship's shuttles, you know. I'm not saying I can help out on, you know, the warp drive or whatever, but I'm handy, ta ligado?"

"I see," Jamus looked up momentarily, "I'll keep that mind then. What else have you done in Starfleet? Have you been in a long time?"

"Uh..." Oreias stalled, unsure how to answer that. "Kinda? I mean, no. I just graduated from the academy. But, I... took a year off after my second year." He decided against saying he was almost kicked out. "You must have been around a while, though, eh, brah? If you're chief engineer, sacau?"

"I was an enginner on the Columbia since graduating from the Academy," Jamus explained patiently turning to face the younger man, "I was fortunate enough to work with an exceptional chief on that ship. When an opening for chief enginner on this ship came up, I took it.

"So, Jamie, did you want the top bunk or the bottom?"

The Trill rolled his eyes and realized that his new roommate hadn't heard a thing he just said. "Jamus," he said. "My name's Jamus, not Jamie."

"Oh. Right. Sorry," Oreias replied. "Can I just call you Jay?"

Jamus winced. Dominic wasn't right and he wasn't sorry. "That's what my ex-wife calls me," he explained somewhat bitterly.

"Ex-wife?! Dude, you're sooooo old!"

Jamus rolled his eyes. Why did he always get stuck with the airheads?

"He Did What?"Edit

Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer, USS Miranda
Petty Officer Second Class Kazra, Science Enlisted Personnel, USS Miranda, npc

Main Library, USS Miranda

Jacen was in a corner, far from the eyes of anyone else. Still in his uniform, he was reviewing several PADDs when he heard footsteps coming his way. He looked up and saw one of the few familiar faces on this new assignment. He made sure to keep his voice low, "Kazra! How are you doing?"

"I'm good, Ensign. May I join you?"

"Of course, please," he cleared some of the PADDs away to give her room. "And call me Jacen."

"Alright. How have your evals gone?"

"Done and over, thank the Gods. But I don't think you hunted me down to see how my evals went. Is something wrong?"

She shook her head in the human fashion she'd picked up back at Basic, "No. It's just I wanted to let you know about something before you came in. Gazer at Stars finally showed up...and...well...he, um, marked his territory."

Jacen eyed her with a confused look, "What do you mean, 'marked his territory'?"

She actually paled a bit, "To put it bluntly, Jacen? He urinated in several spots throughout Sciences and has plans to mark his place on the bridge."

Jacen felt sick with that and he knew his face showed it But when he spoke, it was shock that came out, "He did what?!" He said it too loudly and got a 'shh' from somewhere and tried to settle back down. "I've been reading up on Kzin culture," he gestured to the PADDs, "but I've not come across something to that effect." He covered his mouth as the thought sunk in more. He shook his head and dropped his hand, "I'm all for honoring cultures and their traditions, but that's a bit much!"

His body shook a bit from disgust, "I'm so not asking for bridge duty."

She understood, she'd been through it too just recently, "I'm going around and telling everyone, just to give them warning. There's already been a clean-up crew come through, but it hasn't really cut down on the smell. And I'm quite sure that he'll be spraying again."

"If he does it on me, I'm going to neuter him. My career be damned."

"I believe, Jacen, that there's already a line forming for such an action, should he do so."

He laughed, trying to keep it down, "Good one, Kazra. And thanks for letting me know, I really appreciate it."

"Your welcome, Jacen. But I have to get going, it's mealtime in the Goat Locker."

"I understand. But Kazra, your more than welcome to eat with me, if you'd like. I was planning on getting something within the hour anyway. To be honest, your one of the few people I've gotten to know and I'd like to company."

"Maybe next time, sir. I mean, Jacen. Sorry. But I've already made plans with another non-com."

He smiled, "That's fine. But I'll hold you to it."

She smiled, as a Saurian could, and waved as she left. With Jacen alone with his thoughts, he drifted back to the new knowledge of Sciences being 'marked' by a big felinoid. He had nothing against Kzin or their ways, no matter how much he disagreed with certain things. But this was something that he, and the other blueshirts, should have been warned about.

Thankfully, though, it was an enlisted who came to the rescue yet again. He just smiled at that. He had to wonder how the fleet would ever work without them. He knew they weren't seen as equals by a lot of officers, but he never held that view. It was the enlisted who ran things and they knew it. The officers where just around for the company.

"Sense of Self"Edit

Dr. Lt. Robert West
Lt. JG Aurelia Jaxom

USS Miranda
Counseling

Aurelia put down the computer PADD with a sigh.

Robert West was due for his appointment in less than five minutes and she still was unsure the best approach to his therapy. The file before her was full of notes and observations, the good doctor having clocked in more that 307 hours of counseling time, and yet none of it was very helpful.

  • Patient obviously suffers from extreme social anxiety. I have tried to integrate him back into society but group therapy, however, has proven difficult as he spends most of it trying to diagnose the other patients.
  • The man is a walking, talking example of narcissistic personality disorder!
  • Borderline Personality Disorder.
  • I think a truckload of Melorazine still wouldn't mellow him out.
  • Dr. West refuses to participate in the process, instead he spent twenty minutes trying to diagnose my "excessive girth for my age."
  • I am recommending another counselor.

Ouch, Aurelia thought as she read that last one. It was pretty bad when a Vulcan couldn't put up with you.

Robert was always punctual, down to the last second, and so at precisely the time he was supposed to, the doctor rang the door chime.

"Come in."

Dr. West took a few steps into the room and immediately began to scan it with his eyes. He got that look on his face, the one that signified deep thought and deduction, and it didn't leave him as he spoke.

"I am HereForMyCounselingSessionLieutenant Jaxom. Are you ready to begin?" he asked, still looking over the room.

She shook her head, giving him a small smile. "To be honest, Doctor West, I'm not sure where to begin with you."

"Most of my other counselors StartedAtTheBeginningWhichSeemed like a good place, UnlessYouDoThingsDifferently, which would shock me, frankly." he offered, his eyes stopping on the file at the desk. "I see you HaveAlreadyBeenReadingUpOn what the other so-called Psychological Experts had to say."

Ah, she thought. He was one of those. Then again, most people were.

"I have," Aurelia replied. "By your tone, I take it that you dismiss their findings?"

Robert broke his concentration for a moment and looked at her. When he spoke, it almost seemed as if he wished he wasn't saying what he was.

"I will be honest WithYouLieutenantAboutMyPositionOn the matter. I find psychology to be TheWorstSortOfPseudoScience with inexact criteria and shaky premises backing up it's AssertionOfLegitimacy. It is my OpinionThatPeopleAreWhoTheyAre and the definition of 'Normal' is NothingMoreThanAWayToInsult and look down on those who DoNotFitIntoTheNeatBoxesThat most people want to place them in."

"The concept of 'normal' does differ from culture to culture and no one ever fits entirely into one of those neat boxes," She agreed. "But surely you must agree that you've had difficulty integrating into your assignments. Your file shows you to be a very competent doctor but you've had numerous complaints ranging from off-putting to extremely disturbed."

"I am not JustACompetentDoctor, Lieutenant," Robert corrected her, "I am ConsideredByStarfleetMedicalToBe among the top physicians in the fleet, and TheVeryTopOf my particular field."

"Of course, Doctor, I misspoke. I do find it interesting, however, that you've ignored the second part of my comment. It comes across as arrogant."

Robert adopted a puzzled expression, "Arrogance? I HaveNoDesireWhatSoEver to either improve or harm my StandingOnTheSocialLadder, Lieutenant. I am simply stating a fact. Should I have lied?"

Aurelia bit back a sigh. "No, of course not. I am not trying to improve your social status, Doctor West. Whether you agree or not, Starfleet has a concern that you might be mentally unfit for duty."

"I know FullWellWhatStarfleetThinksAnd it is of little concern to me." Robert replied, almost, it seemed, rolling his eyes, "As for the complaints you mentioned, AllowMeToAskYou a question. Would you PreferADoctorThatWas considered 'normal' by the masses but CouldDoNothingWhileYouDied of your affliction, or an 'eccentric' doctor who nonetheless cured you?"

"I'd prefer a doctor who didn't make me nervous," Aurelia replied. "You made me very uneasy during my visit. But I don't think you're understanding me, Doctor. It may be of small concern to you but I've received notice from Starfleet medical that they're a nanosecond away from suspending your license to practice."

Robert smirked, "You Didn'tReallyAnswerTheQuestionBut no matter. And yes, I'm sure Starfleet Medical HasMadeItClearToYouThat they are watching me closely. I'm sure you even BelieveThatTheyAreOnTheVergeOf pulling my license. I assure you, Counselor, that is not an issue."

"Why's that?"

The doctor gave a small shrug but continued to smile, "I've cured TooManyAdmiralsAndPeople of 'special importance' to be let go. This is NotTheFirstTimeStarfleetMedical has threatened me with revocation of my license. It NeverComesToAnything though."

She pursed her lips slightly. Aurelia wasn't thrilled that Starfleet Medical could ignore her findings even if she found Robert West to mentally unstable. "That does strike me as arrogant, Dr. West."

The accusation took Robert a bit by surprise and it took him a moment to collect his thoughts.

"Arrogance?" he replied, puzzled, "Counselor, all I AmDoingIsStatingTheFacts and nothing more. There isn't any ego behind it. What GoodWouldItDoMeToLie about those things?"

"I don't think you're lying at all, Doctor. What strikes me as arrogant is your assurance that you're too valuable for Starfleet Medical to let you go. You know that there is a problem, even if you think it's everyone else's problem, and yet you refuse to meet anyone at least part way to deal with it. I don't think you're a liar, Doctor. But either you're incredibly arrogant or you're very naive."

"Counselor," he began, noticeably slower and more toned-down, "May I tell you what I see?"

"Of course."

"I would estimate that 98 PercentOfTheTimeThatIAm dealing with people, I am frustrated. I want you to understand ThatWhenISayWhatIAmAboutTo say that I do not mean it in any WayThatCouldBeConstrued as arrogant or self-centered. My mind works MuchFasterThanOtherPeople. I even out-process Vulcans in that regard. When I HaveToWorkWithOther people, you cannot imagine how difficult it is ToSlowMyTrainOfThought and actions down to a pace that OthersAreComfortableWith. And when I do it, I do not feel like myself."

Aurelia nodded. "I can understand how that would be frustrating. But I also want you to realize that it is also frustrating for people trying to keep up with you. My suggestion is that our work be on finding a reasonable compromise between slowing your pace a few degrees and keeping your sense of self."

Robert adopted an unsure expression, perhaps even apprehension, which was not something he was accustomed to, nor something that many people ever saw, "I'm afraid that AttemptingToSlowDownMyThinking process will hinder my AbilityToPracticeMedicineToThe degree I currently am able. When I tell you ThatIAmOneOfTheBest, if not *the* best, Doctors in the fleet, it is once AgainAStatementOfFact. But taking away my thought process, I believe, would LeaveMeRather....well....ordinary."

"I don't think you could ever be considered ordinary," She said with a straight face.

Robert couldn't figure out what it was about this counselor, but for some reason he just wanted her to understand. He had dismissed all the previous ones assigned to him as annoyances that came with the job, but this one was different and he didn't know why.

"I...will do what I can." he said, less-than-confidently.

"I don't think it's going to be easy for you," Aurelia said gently. "But I think it will get easier. So ... tell me how people frustrate you?"

"Well," the doctor began, "...have you met Jordan Lankin?"

"Close Encounters of the Awkward Kind"Edit

Captain Elaithin Jii
Lt.Cmdr. K Jordan Lankin

The intelligence officer had been standing outside the captain's quarters for a period of time that, for anyone else, would have been of an embarrassing length. But she seemed completely unaffected by the passing minutes as she stood there, sipping from her large mug held in one hand while her other clutched a white bag from the officer's mess, presumably with some kind of breakfast, and a takeaway cup of coffee.

She knew he was in there, just like she knew his shift started soon and he wouldn't be late for this one -- because today was the day they launched. And no self respecting captain would be late on this type of day.

And Elaithin Jii was a very self respecting captain.

The operative took another sip of her coffee. Careening her neck back to look at the gleaming soft blue numerals of the clock in the top corner of the display, she sighed. It would, for most people, be easier to just press the damn call. Rouse him from whatever the hell he was doing behind that door. But honestly, it was hard enough for her to just be there. Generally speaking, she just wasn't this type of girl: the type who got flustered and anxious, who checked her messages every two minutes like clockwork, who agonized over every little detail of their limited time together attempting to find little nuances, and who stalked the object of her interest with deeply seeded desperation. She knew those types and had always taken pride in never falling into that particular female role.

Realistically speaking, and with the waiting outside his door to the contrary, she wasn't really filling that roll now, at least -- not to full obsessive extent. But she had been looking forward to a call more than she wanted to admit, a call that hadn't come despite how certain she was that it would. It was disappointing and somewhat flummoxing. To top it off, they hadn't run into each other since their date, and frankly, she was getting a little uneasy. Miranda wasn't a small ship and they were both busy people, but being as they were both higher-ranked officers, some overlap had to exist somewhere. It made her worry that she had said or done something, or that he had heard or discovered something, which caused him to rethink the entire experience and go about avoiding her to every extent possible.

Jordan wasn't sure which was worse: that he was holding all the cards, that she was bothered by the fact her hadn't called or stopped by, or if it was more that fact that she couldn't, for the life of her, press that damnable call button and end this whole bizarre limbo.

Then the door opened.

Elaithin came out of it, still sealing his uniform jacket up the center, and trying to move forward as he slipped his right boot on with the same hand. What he was not doing, in any way, was paying attention to where he was going. The result, of course, was two hundred and forty-odd pounds of Bajoran barreling right over a human woman of considerably less weight. She probably should have reacted to this -- gotten out of the way, done something -- but she had been distracted and by the time she saw the chain of events coming, it was already happening.

The collision was more than enough to take her down; coffee splashed in various directions as she dropped both her large mug and the white bag she'd held, and reached to grab his shoulders in a vain attempt to prevent a hard and inevitable fall. In a normal situation, it would have been fine, but unfortunately here his balance was complete gone and there was no saving either of them.

With the full force of his size falling against her, there was absolutely nothing to be done but hope the deck was softer than it looked.

It wasn't.

The impact knocked the wind out of her as she hit flat on her back; he was barely able to brace himself from falling solidly on top of her, which she appreciated because that surely would have resulted in bruised rips at least.

"Ouch," she thought, but all that came out was a gasp as her body instinctively and frantically tried to catch breath.

Jii refocused his eyes as the word came out - only to find his own eyes mere inches from Jordan's own.

"Uh..." he started, trying to find words as they stared at one another, faces mere inches apart, though both a little dazed to fully grasp the... awkwardness of the position. Then he shook his head for a moment. "Right. Not exactly how I'd planned this."

"No," she murmured, her voice buried within a pained, uncomfortable moan as her lungs remember how to work. "Me either."

Then they both seemed to realize. He lifted his weight off of her pretty quickly, leaving her sprawled on the floor a moment or two before he extended a hand downwards. "Com- Jordan, are you all right?"

She threw a hand over her head, finger pointing across the floor at the white bag that was now a sopping mess of coffee, the smell of the liquid permeating the corridor immediately around them.

"I brought breakfast," she muttered, childishly leaning her head back against the floor, exposing the length of her neck as she tried to get it in her line of sight, then gave up. "Looks rather sad, now." She then sighed and threw her hand up to grab his, allowing him to all but lift her up to her feet, where she steadied herself against the wall. Her readjusting blood pressure momentarily blurred her vision in an array of multicolored spots. "Piece of advice from someone who knows -- it actually saves time to put your shoes on *before* running into the hallway like a bat-wraith. That way, you're less likely to end up sprawled on the floor with the shoe halfway down the corridor." She glanced at his shoeless foot, then a few feet toward his door, where the standard issue boot lay on its side like a discarded conceptual art project. "Cute socks."

Jii closed his eyes for a moment, to at least pretend that he wasn't nearly as embarrassed as he was. "I was hoping to make it to the Captain's mess before breakfast," he finally answered, ignoring the dig about his old, greyed, and very comfortable socks. The corridor outside of the Captain's Quarters, by long tradition, was generally fairly deserted. "Didn't expect anyone to be outside my quarters, actually." He eyed the soaked white bag, and hope the small noise coming from the region of his stomachs wasn't all that loud. "Sorry about that."

"No, my -- my fault -- I should have anticip-- I was about -- I just -- aw hell." Jordan sighed, closing her eyes and covering her face with a hand.

And then Jii laughed. Jordan opened her eyes, her expression sharp, but he just laughed some more. She joined him, somewhat uncertainly, but after a moment it took hold of both of them, their laughter feeding of that of the other until they could barely breathe and their eyes watered.

"What's so funny?" she gasped, coughing a little and she struggled to rein herself in and regain control -- but really, any hope she'd had of playing this cool was laying crumbled somewhere near the captain's shoe.

"This," Jii answered, waving a hand between them. "The... awkwardness. You know, I saw my son go through this a few years back. Thought I was well past it, myself."

"Oh thanks be," she gasped, eyes widening as she leaned her head back against the wall and bit back additional laughter. "I was afraid it was just me! You just -- the entire thing caught me by surprise, Capt --Jii . A goo--" She glanced around, then lowered her voice significantly, leaning in, a hand resting gently, almost intimately (or was it conspiratorially?) on his arm. "A good night kiss was hardly what I was expecting the other night."

His mouth went slack for a moment, and he was embarrassed to realize that he was actually blushing. There were reasons he hadn't dated in quite some time - not the least of which was that he considered the whole process to be horrifically awkward. Finally, he winced as realization came to him.

"You weren't thinking of it as a date," he said flatly.

"Well...," Jordan said, nose wrinkling as she shrugged. She focused on the coffee stain on the carpet, her mug laying at the base of the wall -- sad and empty -- and she pretended not to notice the red that crept up over the back of the man's neck and peaked at the top of his ears. It was... ridiculously adorable. "To be fair, you did warn me. But I just thought it was... you know. Facetious. 'It's a date' not... it's a *date*." She paused, her steel gray eyes flickering up toward him again. "Though, once the initial surprise wore off..." She smiled slightly, and it was her turn to blush; the soft pink warmed her cheeks. "I had a fantastic evening, actually."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah," she confirmed. "In fact, I - "

"Bridge to the Captain," came the interrupting voice of Joral Anton, cutting off what Jii very much wanted to hear the woman say next. He winced, and reluctantly hit his commbadge.

"Better be good, Joral," he all but growled.

"You're so damned chipper in the mornings," his old friend teased.

"Get to the point, Commander," Jii said with emphasis. This time, he did growl, and Jordan had to bite the back of her hand to hold back a laugh, her eyes dancing with amusement.

"Right - you'll want to get up here, Captain. We're having a problem with some of the Starbase supply people, and my braids just apparently aren't numerous enough to convince them of the error of their ways."

Jii let out a long sigh. "On my way, then. Elaithin out," he replied, closing the connection before Joral could speak again. Then he refocused his attention on the woman in front of him. "Sorry - I've got to get this taken care of. Can we... pick this up later?"

"You Starfleet types," she said, smirking as she folded her arms and leaned against the wall. "It's always something. What about a drink, after all the brouhaha is over? I have a great vintage of Kendra Valley sparkling that would be perfect. And maybe we can forgo the post-dinner show this time around."

"Absolutely," he grinned.

"I look forward to it." She grinned and watched him turn to head toward the turbolift. "Uh -- Jii. Don't forget your shoe."

She turned her back before he could react, but as she was walking away, Jordan was quite certain that she heard a groan. For some reason, that made her smile.

"First Annual Mind Games"Edit

Lt. Aurelia Jaxom, Counselor
Ensign Jacen McAlister, Science Officer

Counseling Offices, USS Miranda

Jacen sat in the waiting area, not sure about the whole Psych Eval. Medical was one thing, but Mind Docs where completely another. He didn't mind them as he did the other type of doctors, but he never got the need for them if you continually did well and didn't crack.

But then there were the Dominion War vets and those left over from the Last Borg Invasion, but that seemed different. Those people had lost everything or everyone around them.

Aurelia stepped into the waiting room. "Ensign McAlister?"

He looked up with a snap, "Yes, ma'am."

"Hi, I'm Aurelia. I'll be doing your evaluation today."

He stood and bowed slightly, "I look forward to it, ma'am."

"How are you liking the Miranda so far?" She asked as she led him to her office.

"I can't complain much. She's a great ship, though the chapel is not. That's lacking, it's just bland and boring."

Aurelia gestured for him to have a seat while she called up his file."This is a pretty straightforward interview. I'm looking to see how you interact with people, especially co-workers and your boss. Why don't we start by you telling me something about yourself?"

He cocked an eyebrow, "Well, there's not too much to tell. I'm from Baltimore, the original one on Earth. I like anything I can get my hands on and I decided to enter Starfleet after finding that I couldn't really challenge myself in civilian life anymore."

He eyed her while he talked, not sure what was going through her mind or what he should say. That was always why he didn't trust Mind Docs, especially after his father died, "My family and friends come first and I'm extremely loyal once you've earned my trust and respect."

"Is that difficult? Earning your trust and respect?"

His ire rose slightly, but it was him becoming uncomfortable that took priority. This was where he usually got into it with Mind Docs, "Only when people question it. Or they don't do their job and waste my time."

Ouch, she thought.

"I'm not trying to trick you or waste your time, Ensign," Aurelia said. Discomfort and irritation werent uncommon in first therapy sessions; most people were nervous around counselors at first. "I am trying to get an impression of you other than what it says in your file."

"That's understandable, ma'am. However, it would be best to simply talk to me instead of trying to get me to open up. No offense to you or your profession, but the need to sit and listen is unsettling to me in the extreme and usually gets me to clam up and give monosyllabic answers. I'm the type who requires interaction. Whatever impressions you are looking for, ask. I have nothing to hide, nor was I raised to simply beat around the bush. Mother always insisted to say what we think and be direct, yet know time and place."

A snippy thought came to mind about his mother but she was too professional, of course, to voice it.

"As you like," Aurelia said, switching tactics. What followed was a mind-numbing question and answer session that could have been lifted from any psychology text. It was a bland, limiting dialog but if McAlister wanted direct then he was