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Story - Star Trek: Disavowed

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    #1
    Star Trek: Disavowed
    Part One - Kendra

    The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
    So I took the path not taken,
    To rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    And into the light rode the Six Hundred,
    And found themselves on the Night's Plutonian shore.
    Rubber baby buggy bumpers.

    Doctor Dylan Frost looked up from the PADD he was staring at and shook his head. It had been a year and a half since she was incarcerated and it seemed that she was worse now than she was the day she arrived. "Kendra, what is this?"

    The woman slowly moved her head to rest her warm, brown gaze on the good doctor. She was sitting on her bed with her knees tucked up to her chest. She looked like some sort of bizarre ball with a mop of curly red hair. "It's a poem."

    Frost simply stared at her, but inwardly he was groaning. It was going to be another long session..... "I asked you to write a poem."

    "Yes, you did."

    Now he sighed. "This is not a poem."

    Kendra looked genuinely perplexed. "Yes it is."

    "No," he said. "This is a jumble of lines from several different poems. I wanted something from you."

    "Well, it is from me. I mean, I wrote it, didn't I?" she asked. Her act of naiveté was utterly irritating.

    The psychologist closed his eyes. Once upon a time, he had prided himself on the fact that he never let anything bother him. But then he met Kendra Summers, and it was no longer a boast he could make. "In a way, you did, yes. But you pulled the lines from other poems from already existing poems. The point of this project was to have you write something to express your thoughts. There is no originality to this at all."

    "I did express my thoughts." And then her entire face fell; she looked wounded. "Are you telling me that you didn't get it?"

    "Kendra, there was nothing here to get! You just pulled lines from other..."

    She cut him off. "I figured that it was the best way to get my point across. I mean, they worked before, why can't they work now?" She unfolded her body and stretched out into a more conventional sitting position. "I mean, it's quite profound. Even if I do say so myself."

    "You cannot possibly think that this means anything," Frost said flatly.

    "I do," she said. "It's about my life. 'The woods are lovely, dark, and deep' represents the state I was in while aboard the USS Illustrious. I was torn between my orders and what I thought was right. It was a dark place, but it really wasn't all that bad. But I knew I couldn't stay there forever. 'So I took the path not taken' is indicative of my choice. Most of the crew seemed to think it was black and white: their choice was that of Starfleet's. I, on the other hand, couldn't bring myself to go that way. I couldn't just go the same direction as the masses. To do that would have been like a small piece of me died. And I couldn't go against what I truly believed what was right just for the sheer fact I was told to do so. That's the third line, by the way. The 'Six Hundred' is obviously a reference to the Marines and then they ended up 'on the Night's Plutonian shore' by getting sent to the UFP prison in Auckland. They got screwed over. And the last line... Well, it's so obvious it doesn't even deserve explanation."

    He stared at her, unbelieving. "That's insanity."

    "Exactly!" she exclaimed. "It's a representation of my state of mind and where I am! See? I knew you got it. You really had me going there for a moment, pretending you didn't understand it and all."

    He didn't know what was more frightening: the fact that she rationalized the 'poem' or the fact that he found that it made sense. "Kendra, I want you to write another poem. I can't accept this."

    "Why not?" she demanded with a frown.

    He started to answer her when suddenly something moved beside him, just out of the corner of his peripheral vision. It moved in a blur and the air was disturbed beside him, washing a cold chill along his spine. Damn, did he hate that bird. "I thought I asked you to keep him in his cage while I was with you."

    Pig had flown to Kendra and perched happily on her finger. She was stroking his soft feathers. "I told him to stay put. I tried to reason with him. I swear I really did. But you just can't talk to him. For some reason, he just doesn't listen. He's very stubborn, you know."

    Frost opened his mouth to ask why she just didn't lock him up, but stopped himself. It was a pointless argument. One they had had many times before. He decided to let it drop. "I would like for you to write another poem, Kendra," he stated. He raised his hand to stop her almost immediate protest. "While this one is...good," he explained, almost gagging on the word, "I would like for you to write me another one. Something that is completely from your own mind."

    "Yes, Doctor Frost," she said, without ever taking her eyes off her bird. The grey ♥♥♥♥atiel completely ignored everything in the room. As long as he was getting some attention, he didn't give a damn who else was in the room.

    Frost left the room, muttering to himself.

    Kendra let out a deep sigh of relief. "Dear, God. I thought he'd never leave." Then she looked to her pet with a scowl. "And you, little man, where the hell were you? You were supposed to interrupt much, much sooner."

    The bird just looked at her and chirped grumpily. She had stopped petting him and he didn't like it. He rubbed his head against her hand, trying to coax her to continue. She smiled. "I never could stay mad at you long, Piggy." She stroked his feathers again and he chirped very happily.

    Getting up off the bed, she walked across the room to put Pig back in his cage. It was almost lunchtime; someone would be bringing her food soon. They wouldn't let her use the replicator anymore. Apparently someone thought there was, in fact, such a thing as too much of a good thing. These people just had no appreciation for a good bowl of eggdrop soup. So what if she had programmed all the replicators to produce nothing but soup? Wherever she was in the building, she wanted to make sure she could get a bowl. What was so wrong with that?

    Just then, she heard the door slide open and closed. She had her back to the door, so she just called out to the person, "Just leave it on the table!" There was no response. Now, such a statement doesn't really require a response, but someone usually did respond. Even if it was just a grunt, there was usually some sort of acknowledgment. Kendra turned around and saw nothing. There was no one in the room. She looked around, walked towards the door, and out into the hallway. There was no one there either.

    Kendra walked back into the room, confused. That was odd. Maybe someone just walked into her room by accident and then left once they realized their mistake... But wouldn't she have seen someone in the hallway? That much time hadn't passed since the door opened and she walked into the hall. Had it?

    Just then, an arm came out of nowhere and grabbed her from behind. She felt a phaser pressed to her temple. "Don't move," a female voice said. Kendra didn't even have time to register the words; she just reacted. She stepped on the unknown person's foot, causing them to release their hold on her for a split second, but it was all Kendra needed. Grabbing the arm with the phaser, she flipped the woman over her back and onto the floor, so that assailant was staring at the ceiling. Kendra didn't remember pulling the phaser out of the woman's hand but, somewhere along the way, she had for it was now in her hand.

    She pointed at the woman's head. "Who the hell are you and why did you pull a damn phaser on me?" The woman just lay there, saying nothing. "Okay, just so you know, I'm already in here partially because I shot someone. I have no qualms about doing it again, especially when I'm damn well justified this time."

    "You weren't really justified the first time. In the eyes of Starfleet, anyway. They tend to frown on it when you stun your own assistant, regardless of the fact that you were trying to save him from being killed."

    Kendra started to ask how she knew that, but stopped. Anyone who had read her file knew that. Duh. So she opted for the next question. "What do you want?"

    "Can I get up? I prefer to talk to people while standing," the woman commented.

    "Up," Kendra said after a moment. It seemed like a harmless enough request. As long as she stayed out of reach, that is.

    The dark haired woman rolled her side and stood in one fluid motion. It was almost like watching a dance. She turned to look at Kendra, her bright purple eyes set in a cool, amused gaze. "That's better," she said after a moment.

    "I'm sure it is. You're not human." she stated. Her arm never gazed from this strange woman.

    The purple-eyed woman actually smiled. "You're quick. In more ways than one, apparently," she replied, referring to Kendra's fast reaction to her attack. The woman began to cross the room.

    "I also don't recall giving you permission to move."

    The woman shrugged. "I don't need your permission."

    Kendra waved the phaser. "Hel-lo? I'm the one who's armed, here!"

    "No, you aren't," came the reply as she stretched out on Kendra's bed. She relaxed on the bed like a young girl would at a slumber party. Like they were old friends or something.

    "The hell I'm not!" Kendra said heatedly.

    The woman once again gave her that nonchalant shrug. "No, you aren't. Do you really think I'd come in here with a live phaser? What kind of fool do you take me for?"

    Kendra looked at her, pointed the phaser right at her, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. "Hmm. Guess you're right." She tossed the phaser aside. "And as far as the answer to your question, was that rhetorical or do you really want me to answer it?"

    "You would have shot me," the stranger said with a raised eyebrow. Then a slow smile crept to her lips. "You're exactly the person we want for this job."

    "Job?" Kendra asked, perplexed. "Who the hell are you and what is this all about?"

    She just looked at Kendra with a knowing smile. It was very annoying. "My name does not matter. At least, not now. I am here to offer you the chance of a lifetime. Or rather, the second chance of a lifetime."

    Kendra laughed. "Are you saying that you can get me out of here? I'm a Lifer, hon. Ain't no one short of the President of the UFP gonna get me out of here."

    "What if I told you that there were those of us that were higher than even the President?"

    "Higher than the President?" Kendra repeated. She started to brush her hair out of her face. "That would have to make you super special. Like Intel, or something. Hell, even the mythological Section 31. If it did exist..."

    "Oh, it does."

    "Yeah, right."

    The dark haired woman ♥♥♥♥ed her head to the side. "You can tell if I'm lying. You're Betazoid."

    That stopped her. The woman hadn't been lying. She had been completely serious. "Well, all that proves is that you believe what you're saying. For all I know, you could be my next door neighbour. We are in a crazy house, you know."

    She shrugged. "Do you want to continue with the interrogation or do you want to hear what I have to say? I had things planned for later in the day and I would like to get to them sometime today."

    "Talk," Kendra stated after a moment. "It's not like I have anything better to do."

    "No, it's not," the stranger said, her purple eyes twinkling in the light. "As I said, I am here to offer you a second chance. In the past, there have been many ships in which Starfleet officers and Marines and SEALs have served together."

    "I kinda know that better than most people." The woman gave her a hard stare, so much that it actually made Kendra uneasy. "Please continue."

    "As I was saying," she went on, "they have served together, but never has there been a genuine cooperative effort between the two. It's always been a Starfleet ship with Marines and SEALs or a SEAL/Marine ship with Starfleet officers. We want to change that, especially in light of what happened on your previous assignment."

    Kendra rolled her eyes. "Okay, that's great. So why are you telling me this? You want me to serve on it or something? Chief of Security?"

    "Oh, we want you to be the Starfleet part of it." Her smile broadened. "But we don't want you to be the CSO. We want you to be the Commanding Officer."

    Kendra stared at the woman for a full minute without uttering a sound. "Say that again."

    "We want you to be the Starfleet CO. In order to make this a genuine co-op, there will also be a Marine CO. You two will basically be two people with the same job. You will run the Starfleet side of it, the Marine will run the Marine side of it. But you will always keep the other apprised of your people's activities. No decisions can be made without the other's approval." Again there was silence as Kendra just stared at her. "Are you just going to gawk at me or do you have any questions?"

    Kendra shook her head, like she was coming out of some sort of trance. "Hell, yeah, I've got questions. First of all, why me? I mean, I'm in a mental institution. Surely there is someone out there more qualified than me."

    "This is true. There was another candidate, but she is no longer eligible," the woman paused, trying to think how to explain this. "Basically, we chose you because of your past. What got you in here in the first place was the fact you did what you personally felt was right, regardless of what the regs said. Starfleet regulations can be.... rigid.... and the best operatives are the ones who know when to use regs and when to throw them away. And the situation involved both Marines and SEALs. You worked with them, fought alongside them. We need someone who knows how to interact with them."

    "But I don't really like them. It was a complete accident that their orders went along with what I believed. Marines are goons with guns," Kendra simply blurted out.

    "And that would be an asset too. You would always be keeping tabs on each other. They do it as part of their job. You do it not only as part of your job as a sec officer, but because you don't like them. 'Keep your friends close...'"

    "'But keep your enemies closer.'' Kendra finished. "Yes, I've heard it before. I don't consider them enemies, just.... well, goons with guns."

    The woman shrugged again. "Are you going to keep questioning why we think so highly of you?"

    "Sorry."

    "Look at it this way. You can stay here and rot for the rest of your life. The accommodations are lacking, the food's gotta suck, and you have no freedom. Or, you can take the job and get your life back. Hell, it's a better life even. You would be the CO of a ship and would get a promotion out of it. Not bad for someone who's been out of commission for a year and a half."

    Kendra studied the woman. It was such an inviting offer. She'd have to be crazy not to take it, no pun intended of course. But there was something tugging at the back of her mind. Something bothered her, preventing from saying 'yes' immediately.

    And then it occurred to her what it was.

    "I'll do it," she proclaimed.

    "We knew you would," the woman replied coolly.

    "But only on one condition..."

    The dark haired woman looked at her in amusement. "You are hardly in the position to be making demands."

    "You said so yourself: I'm the only option," Kendra replied with a shrug. "I think I am in a very good position for bargaining."

    The look on the woman's face hardened ever so slightly, as if she didn't appreciate having her own words thrown back at her. "What do you want?"

    Kendra smiled. "It's already been established that I don't like Marines. Or SEALs. So if I'm going to work closely with them on a daily basis, I want it to be someone that I'm familiar with. Someone I know who to deal with."

    "You want Curtis Hawkins as the Marine CO."

    "Exactly."

    She seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding. "Done. We can get him out, no problem."

    "I want all of them. SEALs and Marines," Kendra stated flatly.

    "All of them? You do realize that is something like a third of the population at Auckland. That would not be an easy feat to take them without questions..."

    "Well if you don't think you can do it...."

    The woman narrowed her eyes. "We can do it. It'll just take a lot of our resources. But it can be arranged."

    "Then it's settled then. When do we leave?" Kendra asked triumphantly.

    She rose from her seat on the bed and stood in the middle of the room. "We leave tomorrow. We get you out of here, and then we're going to train you. As one of our operatives, you will need special training, of course."

    "Of course," she repeated. "About how long will this training take?"

    "Six months."

    "Six months? Damn..." Kendra swore.

    "Yes," came the reply. "Six months. Now, gather your things, tie up any loose ends here. We will come for you in the morning." The woman headed towards the door. "And remember, speak of this to no one."

    "Wait!" Kendra called after her. "How in hell do you really plan on pulling this off? I mean, we're basically all convicts. Are you just going to march in the front office and demand for release?"

    The woman stopped, but Kendra could read her like a book. She knew the woman was smiling knowingly, arrogantly. "We are Section 31. We can do anything we want." And with that, she left.

    The door slid closed and Kendra just studied it for a moment. Then Pig chirped forlornly. She turned to her pet and grinned. "We're getting the hell out of here, Piggy!"

    ****

    Doctor Dylan Frost stood outside Kendra's room with his eyes closed. He took a deep breath, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Just a little time to relieve the stress he knew he was going to be under while in this room. It was better to do it now, than in front of her. If he didn't know any better, he would swear that she enjoyed annoying him....

    Finally, he walked into the room. "And how are we doing today, Kendra?" he asked before he really looked around the room. When no answer came, he looked up and around. Shock was the only word that could describe what crossed his features.

    The room was completely stripped. Save for the furniture that went with the room: bed, desk, dresser, etc. But anything and everything that gave the room a personal touch, the look of someone actually inhabiting the place, was gone. There were no pictures, no plants, no books, no personal items of any kind lying about the room. Even the birdcage was gone. What the hell was going on?

    He quickly accessed the patient registry and frowned. "Computer, is Kendra Summers really not a patient anymore or has there been some sort of mistake?" This all could be just an elaborate joke that the infuriating woman was playing on him. Alter patient records and move her stuff to another room, just to drive him crazy.... Yeah, it was a classic Kendra move.

    "Kendra Summers is no longer a patient in this facility," came the computer's monotone reply.

    His frown deepened. Why would no one notify him? He was her doctor, for crying out loud. "Why not?"

    "Kendra Summers has been transferred to another facility."

    He nodded. Well, now it made sense. Sorta. He had put in a recommendation to have her placed somewhere else, but his request had been denied. The powers that be must have changed their minds. But still.... Someone should have notified him.

    Dylan had started to turn to walk out when he noticed a PADD sitting on the bare dresser. Curiosity got the best of him and he picked it up. He read it and groaned. She still got him in the end. Kendra had written a poem for him, as he requested. Too bad he would never know what it meant:

    I am the Walrus.
    I flap my fins,
    And the Walls fall down around me.
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    #2
    Wonderful and engaging read! Looking forward to more! Smile
    Silynn
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    Part Two - Curtis

    The air was cool with the brisk chill of the October breeze. Leaves of all shades of yellow, orange, and red moved on the trees they clung so desperately to, hanging onto the very last vestiges of summer. Birds flew overhead, moving to winter nesting grounds. The puffy white clouds moved lazily through the autumn sky.

    Damn, it was good to be free. Kendra Summers leaned against the tree and closed her eyes, taking in all the sensations. She smiled as the breeze blew gently on her face. It had been so long....

    Her commbadge suddenly chirped, bring her out of her daydream. It was good to be free, but she could have lived without that for a little while longer. Alas, duty called. Kendra's smile turned into a grin. No, the commbadge wasn't so bad after all. She had her career back.

    She hoped. There was only one thing left to do to cement the deal.... She tapped her commbadge. =/\= Summers here. Go ahead. =/\=

    =/\= The meeting has been arranged. Stand by for transport. =/\=

    =/\= Acknowledged. Summers out. =/\= She cut the comm and waited while the familiar sound of a transporter beam enveloped her.

    **Auckland, New Zealand**

    "Hawkins!!" came the familiar voice of Leroy Washington, Earth's most wanted murderer. The big, burly black man called after the Former Marine/SEAL until he found him leaning against the pool table in the rec centre. He stared at the grunt with disgust. "I've been waiting six long months for this moment."

    Curtis Hawkins slowly looked up from his game of billiards and gazed back at the criminal. It was going to be another long day. Six months earlier, Leroy Washington had heard rumours of the tactical training of Starfleet SEALs. He had killed many people from many species in his life, but he had yet to find a worthy opponent; until he met Hawkins. The Soldier had laid him out in five seconds flat and after spending all those months in solitary, he wanted major revenge.

    Hawkins was smaller than the murderer by a good one foot, but the former soldier was as solid as a bull, he was up to 240 lbs. of pure muscle, which made him a very worthy adversary. Curtis set his cue stick down and began to walk towards Leroy. "Glad to see they finally let your sorry ass out, Washington. Who did you blow to get that to happen?"

    "Keep running your mouth, Hawkins, and I'll gladly shut it for you."

    Keith Bednash, former member of SEAL Team 1 walked side by side with Hawkins. "Want us to take him out for you, sir?"

    Hawkins shook his head. "No, I can handle him again." After the two long years in Auckland, Hawkins was still amazed at how his men still referred to him and 'sir' and 'Major'. He felt pretty good knowing his men still held respect and loyalty to him.

    The two opponents stood face to face as they stared each other down. Just when Washington went to spout some more insults, Hawkins quickly snapped a jab and hit Leroy squarely in the throat. The big man went down and began coughing blood from his internal wound. It was a shame, but he would live. The guards shackled both Hawkins and Washington and prepared to take them back to solitary, until a guard took Hawkins by the arm. "You have a visitor."

    Kendra waited in the small room. Since a great deal of the inmates here were those that she had served with before, it had been arranged that she would be beamed directly inside the prison. It just wouldn't do to have someone recognize her. Inmate or guard. Could upset the entire operation if she was jumped.

    Hawkins hadn't known who would come and see him. He knew for sure it wasn't Anya. After the trial, the court denied her access to see him ever again, but he would always pray that he would gaze into her beautiful blue eyes again. Curtis entered through the doorway of the meeting room and stared back at a face that he known he'd seen before. "Summers?"

    She gave him a small nod. "Nice to see you remember me, Hawkins."

    "What the hell are you doing here?" he asked.

    "Now, now, now. Is that any way to treat an old friend? Especially one who has something to discuss with you?" she replied with a small smile. Kendra gave him the once over. "You look well," she said soberly. She had no idea how they were being treated here.

    He gazed over her body. It had been a long time since he laid his eyes on a living, breathing woman. "You're looking very nice yourself." he said hungrily.

    *Okaaaay, maybe that wasn't the best thing to say...* she thought to herself. "Thank you. Mental institution was a bitch, but it was a resort compared to this place."

    "I don't know about that. This place reminds me of palm springs." he replied in a very sarcastic tone.

    Kendra raised her hands. "Stop playing with me, Hawkins. I'm not here for this."

    He shook his head. "Then what the hell are you here for Summers? Last time I checked, we weren't on good terms."

    "I'm here on behalf of Starfleet. And before you ask, yes, I said Starfleet. Intelligence actually."

    "Great!" he replied. "Another damned interrogation, just what I need. You can walk you little ass back to whoever sent you and tell them to go screw themselves. I don't have time for this."

    "Dammit! Will you listen to me, Hawkins! I have a way to get you out of here. ALL of you," Kendra said firmly.

    Now he had her undivided attention. "What are you talking about?"

    "Ah, now you wanna hear me out. About damn time!" She leaned against the wall and stared hard at Hawkins. God, she's forgotten how much she disliked him. "About six months ago, I was approached by a member of Starfleet Intelligence. She identified herself as a member of Section 31 and gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. Apparently, they want to have a Marine/SEAL/Starfleet co-op ship. Something that will act as muscle, so to speak, for the organization. I apparently came to mind, seeing as how I'm one of the only 'fleeters to ever stand with the Marines and SEALs in, well, anything. So I get my career back if I join up with them."

    "What did the Marines and SEALs have to say about this?" he asked.

    She cleared her throat and spoke in her best authoritative voice. "'In light of the incident aboard the Illustrious, the Marines and SEALs are giving their full support to the SFI project.'" She smirked. "I personally think they just want a hand in the Intel part of it, but that's just me.
    Anyway, I told them that I would only be willing to work with you guys. I still don't like Marines, but if I have to play nice, it sure as hell better be with someone I know."

    His brow furrowed. "Are they willing to re-enlist the 154th and SEAL Team 1?"

    "Every single damn one of ya. Even that idiot Taylor."

    "And I have command?"

    Kendra drew in a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. "Not exactly...."

    "Why don't you clarify on that last sentence. What do you mean 'not exactly'?"

    "I said they wanted this to be a co-op ship, remember?" she said evenly. "As in, the CO position gets split. Specifically, between you and me...."

    Hawkins sighed miserably. "Dammit. This is the lamest idea I have ever heard in my life. How the hell do they expect us to coexist peacefully on this vessel? I'm better off here where I still have some managerial control."

    "Now don't go getting upset yet, Princess. You would still have command over the Marines and SEALs. I have command over the Starfleet personnel. But we are sharing the CO responsibility. I can't do anything without your approval and you can't do anything without mine. It's a true joint venture."

    "But still," he said in a hurt tone. "I really don't think this is going to work."

    "Look, I'm not wild about it either. But you have to admit, it's better than rotting in this hell hole for the rest of your life," Kendra said tersely.

    He looked at her and shook his head. "That's not what Starfleet thinks. They don't care about following orders and they steam roll everybody who still holds their belief of doing their duty for God and their planet."

    She looked into his eyes, letting him know she was sincere. "It's been two years since the Illustrious, Hawkins. And even after all this time, I still believe that we did the right thing. None of us should be here. So when the opportunity arose to make this all go away, I took it."

    He turned his head away from her and thought about his options. Jail wasn't so bad, but it got awfully lonely, and deep down he wanted his freedom and his command back. "Fine." he said and looked back at her. "When do we leave?"

    "We leave tomorrow."

    "Good, I'll inform the troops and get packed. Anything thing else you want from me?" he asked as he stood up to leave.

    She shook her head. "No, not at the moment."

    Hawkins nodded and walked out the door. "Good, see you tomorrow."

    Kendra watched him leave. What exactly had she gotten herself into with this deal? She hit her commbadge, signalling for her to be beamed back aboard the vessel that had brought her here and disappeared in the transporter beam.

    Hawkins couldn't help but to smile to himself. He was finally getting his life back, and after two years of waiting patiently, all was about to pay off.
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    #4
    Part Three - Christopher

    Isle of White Maximum Sercurity Wing
    Starfleet Penitentiary
    United Kingdom

    He wished he had listened to Natalya. But his need for revenge had consumed him. Even now, alone in the darkness of his cell, Christopher couldn't feel remorse for what he had one. The thing which stung the most was that they had taken his honour away from him.

    His mind raced backwards...

    He was the assistant chief medical officer aboard the USS Outrider during the Dominion war, freshly promoted to Lt jg and eager as hell. The Outrider had been assigned to rescue prisoners from a Cardassian camp. Christopher had volunteered to be field medic on the mission. The insertion had gone to plan, Hanson, the team leader and CSO, was a capable leader and looked after Christopher throughout the early hours of the mission. The team had gone to plant charges around the Cardassian buildings when a stray guard noticed them.

    The firefight which ensued had scared the hell out of Christopher. He had pulled his phaser out, but hadn't had a chance to use it. Security crewmmen were being hit left, right and centre. Christopher had been crouching over a crewman with a hypospray when the first of the stun beams had struck him. His nerves fired simultaneously and shut down his higher functions.

    When he had regained consciousness, he wished he hadn't. The scene in front of him was that of a charnel house. Blood of various species covered the walls. Implements covered the benches in front of him. Not modern surgical implements, but medieval tools. Hanson was strapped naked to a table, blood already covering his torso as the Cardassian made small incisions into his flesh. The Cardassian wiped the sweat from it's brow and flicked it onto Hanson's body and the man screamed in pain.

    His mind still rebelled against what he and his friends had to endure for six months. Christopher did what he could to ease the pain of the team members as they returned from private torture sessions. One of the guards noticed this and Christopher was brought in front of the camp director. He was told that he would keep the prisoners healthy, so that they could continue to work, or he would die. Christopher took up the position and held on for six months, until the Cardassians surrendered at the end of the Dominion war. The USS Nightingale arrived in system and rescued all of the prisoners.

    After Christopher had spent two months at Starbase 72, he had been assigned to the Nerandra sector on board the USS Pegasus. The Nerandra sector bordered a Cardassian penal colony and Christopher learned that not all prisoners of war had been released. He used his clearance codes to modify a probe and equipped it with a selenium virus charge, the flashbacks of his ordeal still in his mind. Natalya had begged him not to go down that road, it would be his undoing. He persuaded the captain to send the probe to the colony to look for federation survivors.

    The virus killed thousands of Cardassians, eight federation members were found on the planet.

    Christopher was not court-martialed, but was stripped from the medical register and sent to the Isle of White prison complex solitary wing.

    'Good old Natalya' he thought, 'she was always right.'

    "Perhaps you should have listened to her, then." said a voice from within the cell.

    Christopher was shocked to hear a different voice, but he wasn't going to waste time with unintelligent questions. The voice was difficult to place, it was androgynous and unemotional. "You are obviously Betazoid, and since you are in a maximum security cell without using the door, you are obviously here without the knowledge of the camp director. So, do you want to tell me why you're here?"

    "Well, doctor, why don't you tell me?" came the voice again.

    "I'm not Betazoid, and thank you. It's been a long time since anyone called me doctor."

    "What would you say," came the voice, "if I could get you assigned to a starship where your methods are not so out of the ordinary?"

    "I would say that you're bananas, have you committed and maybe get a cell mate." answered Christopher.

    A laugh. 'Definately female' thought Christopher.

    "How long has it been since you saw the sun, doctor?"

    "Eighteen months, twelve days, and this morning." Christopher replied automatically.

    "Take my hand, doctor, we've a long journey ahead of us."

    Christopher reached out, took the woman's hand and was engulfed in a transporter beam.
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    #5
    Part Four - Christopher & Kendra

    Christopher was looking forward to the brief period of relaxation which a stay on Risa promised before embarking on his new ship. The shuttle pilot looked at him and said, "You will be contacted about your ship when it is ready to leave." Christopher thanked the pilot and transported down to the hotel entrance. He was knocked off his feet by security services running towards a group of Klingons. Dusting himself off, Christopher picked up his bags and walked to the check in desk. The man behind the desk smiled warmly, "May I help you sir?" he asked.

    "Christopher Cushing, I believe I have a reservation."

    The man's smile vanished. Christopher sighed, even now people still remembered his actions. He took the offered key, dropped his bags into his room and left the hotel. He walked to the beach and sat down by the shore, revelling in the sun's touch upon his face. A waiter brought him drinks when he asked. Several men and women had come by offering more than drinks but Christopher had politely turned them down. He just needed to be by himself for a while. Just him, the sun and the cool breeze.

    A shadow fell across Christopher and a voice said, "Hey, don't I know you?" Christopher looked up into the face of a Starfleet Lt jg in a security uniform.
    "No, I don't think so." said Christopher looking back at the horizon.
    "Yeah, I remember you," said the officer, "you were aboard the Pegasus, weren't you. You poisoned a world."
    "Look boy," replied Christopher, a steel edge in his voice, "walk away now while you still can. You are mistaken, you do not know me and I do not know you."
    "Yeah, they put you in prison or something, didn't they." the Lt continued.
    Christopher held out his hands, palms up and said simply, "Choose."
    The Lt looked confused
    "It's very simple, choose left or right." continued Christopher.
    "Why?" questioned the man.
    "That's easy. I could just order you to go away because I outrank you, but that's too pompous. This is easier."
    "Left." said the man.

    With lightning speed, Christopher rammed the heel of his hand into the security officer's left temple. The man's eyes rolled back into his head and he slumped forward. Christopher summoned a waiter.

    "When he wakes up," Christopher instructed the waiter, "give him a bottle of your finest Romulan Ale and charge it to my account. Tell him that if he ever comes near me again I'll make sure that the scars are horrific."

    Since his brief vacation had been ruined, and having no desire to be recognised again, Christopher arranged to be transported up to the ship ahead of time. After a quick check of the sick bay's facilities, he headed to the bridge to introduce himself to his Captain.

    -----------------

    Kendra was in her office. Her office. It had been so long since she had had her own office. She sat down in the chair behind the desk and began to spin around and around in the chair. When she stopped, the room was still spinning. She laughed happily and laid her head down on the desk, partly out of joy and partially because she was so damn dizzy that she had to have something to hold onto.

    She never heard the chime or the door as it slid open.

    Christopher walked silently into the room and stared at the captain. "I realize that I don't know a lot about command protocol, but I don't think that you're meant to laugh in a, "Mine, all mine!" sort of way when you are a captain." Christopher laughed.

    Kendra sat bolt upright in her chair and fixed her (dizzy) eyes on the doctor. "You might have knocked." She said reproachfully.

    Christopher stood to attention, "Lt. Christopher Cushing reporting," he relaxed and quietly said, "and I did knock, but all I could hear was hysterical laughter. I thought someone was either having a psychotic episode or had set loose an Argelian hyena from the sound of it but I realize that you were just excited to have a ship to call your own. I won't tell the major if you won't." Christopher winked conspiratorially.

    She looked at him for a moment then smiled. "If you want tell the Major, go right ahead. It probably wouldn't surprise him one little bit. Now, what can I do for you?"

    "I just thought that it would be polite to introduce myself to my commanding officer BEFORE all hell breaks loose." Christopher smiled.

    Attempting to stand up, Kendra grabbed hold of the desk as the room continued to spin. She quickly sat back down. "Would you care to sit down?" she asked, motioning to a chair beside him. Standing was not exactly working for her.

    Christopher sat down and eyed the commander suspiciously, "Are you alright, ma'am? Only you look quite pale and you are fairly unsteady on your feet."

    She waved her hands at him. "Oh, I'm fine. I assure you. Part of the 'psychotic episode'. Now, if we're officially meeting, tell me about yourself. How'd you land in the beautiful land of Section 31?"

    Christopher looked Kendra straight in the eyes. "After spending six months in a Cardassian torture pit in constant fear of my life, I went a little nuts. The upshot of it all is that I poisoned a cardassian planet. Thousands died. Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect £200. Then eighteen months after being placed in solitary confinement, a betazoid appears and transports me out of there. And here I am."

    Kendra stared at him, her face a blank slate. "Really now?"

    Christopher's eyes narrowed, "I've seen that expression before, so I'm used to it. Yes I poisoned a whole planet. Yes that makes me a mass murderer in the eyes of the law. But revenge wasn't in my mind. The planet I hit was a Cardassian prison colony. They were still holding eight Federation prisoners. They are now at home with their families."

    "Good for you." said Kendra, her face still impassive.

    Christopher was ready for an argument, a dressing down, hell, even a flogging but not this. "I beg your pardon?"

    "I'd have done it differently, but that's just a matter of style." She could tell that he was completely shocked. "On this ship, you'll find that there are several of us who are basically in the same boat you are now," she explained as she leaned on the desk to rest on her forearms. "Practically the whole damn ship, actually. There are just sometimes when the regs don't apply. But you do what you know is right rather than what the books tell you is right. And then you end up here."

    He eyed her momentarily. "If I may be so bold, what did you do?"

    Kendra smiled. "As the Chief of Security, I mutinied against my own ship. I did it to prevent my crew mates from following orders that would have ultimately gotten them killed. Bureaucrats who sit in their cushy offices while some of us do the dirty work have no idea how the galaxy really works. The marines had contradicting orders, but they were something I could live with. So I sided with them, got busted, thrown in the Starfleet Mental Institution back in 'Frisco, and, two years later, here I am."

    "Mental Institution?"

    "Yes," she replied. "I am technically certifiable. But insanity is in the eye of the beholder. It just adds to my charm, I think."

    Christopher smiled, he was going to like this CO. "If it's any consolation, I think you are as sane as I am. Of course, that's coming from a mass murderer." He looked at Kendra again, "Do you mind if I make a suggestion?"

    "Be nice." Said Kendra with a smile.

    Christopher got up and crossed the room to the replicator. "Tea for two, buttered crumpets and bramble jam." The console beeped and the slot glowed. Carrying the tray to the desk, Christopher set it down in front of Kendra, "From the look of you, your blood sugar is low. This is the most civilized way I can think of to remedy it. Shall I pour?"

    Kendra laughed aloud. Christopher looked at her quizzically. "Yes please, pour by all means. I wasn't laughing at you, you just don't present the image of a mass murderer."

    "How so? Milk and sugar?"

    Kendra nodded, "Well, you destroyed a planet, and here you are sitting down to tea for two."

    Christopher handed Kendra her tea, "It's a good disguise, people don't want to know why I did it. They just concentrate on the fact that I DID do it. Incidentally, there is a security officer down on the planet I had to knock out. He was making a scene."

    "Oh, really?" she replied, taking a sip of her tea. "It seems as if there's a rash of that kind of thing going around like that. Seems one of our SEAL Teams got into a little trouble down there. You know, for a group of people who are not supposed to exist, we sure have managed to make ourselves known. Hope that doesn't step on any toes."

    "That might not be a good thing," he said.

    "Nope," she said. She was thinking of how easy it was for Section 31 to get them all together. It would probably be easier to take them all right back out. Kendra dismissed that thought to the back of her mind. "So, tell me about yourself, other than your chequered past. What made you want to get into Starfleet? And why a doctor?"

    "After my parents were killed, I joined a gang in Cardiff. We were raiding a warehouse when starfleet security showed up. One of the security officers knew my parents from way back and sort of took me under his wing, taught me how to swordfight. I'm rated as maestro on three different blades now. He educated me and sponsored my entrance into the academy. He would have been proud to see me now but he died during the last Borg invasion. As for the medical, my tutors found that I had an aptitude for it and encouraged me. The computer skills I learnt in the gang also helped me when I did the Operations and Emergency Systems management course." answered Christopher, sipping on his tea.

    Kendra smiled, "Is Lt. Andrews still teaching the ops classes?"

    Christopher nodded, "Commander Andrews, he runs the ops wing. I had so many run ins with him, we used to argue every time I went into the simulators. He always maintained that I didn't follow protocol and regulations. My argument was that in the sims, my shift never dropped the ball because I'd bend the rules to keep them alive."

    "A good tradition to follow." remarked Kendra.

    "After practicing sword fighting in the Academy gym one day, I came across a female classmate, Natalya Kurov, being abused by an Orion noble. I challenged him to a duel. He was typical Orion, boorish and a bully. The fight took place in the gymnasium after dark in secret. It continued until daylight. At dawn, we both saluted each other and began our final assault. The Orion slashed my right cheek open. It was like being hit by a shuttlecraft, I fell to the floor under the impact of the blow. The Orion declared that he had won because I couldn't carry on. But I saw my parent's murder in my mind, they were slaughtered by Orion pirates you know, and stood up, saluted my opponent. The Orion's laughter died in his throat as he saluted back, eyeing me closely. I lost control and unleashed my full fury against the Orion, who could only defend himself. In the coup de grace, I impaled the Orion upon my blade to the hilt. I left my sword embedded in his belly, and called for security and an emergency medical team. Publicly, I was reprimanded for my actions. However, my class mates congratulated him for taking a stand. I found out later that Andrews had been a major influence on the board of inquiry. He actually prevented my expulsion from the academy. I keep this scar to remind me to take a stand." He pointed to the line crossing his right cheek.

    "I wondered why you had the scar, but I wasn't going to be rude and ask. I mean with today's technology, that kind of thing is easy to remove," she replied. "Well, it seems like you're the kind of man that Section 31 looks for if my limited experience with them is any indication. I'm just damn glad you're on our side."

    He gave her a small smile. "I'm just glad to be out of solitary confinement."

    "As am I to be out of the mental ward. They've got some crazy people there," she quipped. "Now, I've gotten to know a little about you. Is there anything you really want to know about me? I believe that you should know who it is that you're serving with, even the CO. I'm fairly open."

    "Yeah, why so flippant about the major? Is there some kind of history between you two?" he asked.

    That drew a very amused smile from Kendra. "Oh yeah. A whole lot of bad history. He and I served together before on the USS Illustrious. He was the Marine CO and I was the Chief of Security. We never really saw eye to eye on much of anything. If we weren't fighting we were basically on opposite sides of the ship. Basically, what it boils down to is that I don't like Marines and he doesn't like Starfleet. And then the mission that I told you about earlier happened and the Marines were thrown in jail and I was institutionalized, blah, blah, blah."

    "Now if things weren't exactly cordial between you, how did you both get this assignment?" Christopher asked.

    Kendra drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Well, this is where it gets odd. Like I also said earlier, I was approached by someone who works within Section 31. She told me what kind of assignment it was, Starfleet and Marines, and that they wanted me to as the Starfleet CO. I told them that I would only do it if the Marine CO was Hawkins. I figured if I was going to be forced into dealing with Marines that the devil I knew was better than the devil I didn't. Frankly, I was surprised that they agreed, but obviously they did. Although I'm beginning to think that maybe this is going to be tougher than I thought."

    "If you believe the crap they come out with in recruiting posters, 'Tough is part of the job', but then no one at Starfleet PR ever did a deep space mission." he said.

    "Amen to that." replied Kendra.

    "I do have one question though, will there be any nursing staff to assist. They do still have nurses don't they? It's been a while since I practiced medicine."

    "Relax doctor, yes they still have nurses, but we don't. You'll have the EMH when you need it and one of the marines is a qualified medic, so they can help out if it doesn't conflict with any other duties they may have."

    "Great, that means I'll be arguing diagnoses with a hologram and a ground pounder." Christopher thought for a moment, "This Major Hawkins, reasonable fellow is he? I only ask because if I make a medical decision that he doesn't like, is he likely to accept it or stand up and try to pull rank?"

    Kendra laughed, "Try?" she asked.

    "Well, that did sound a bit pompous didn't it? What I mean is, I'm the Chief Medical Officer, when it comes to the medical welfare of my patients, I have the last word."

    "You haven't worked with marines before have you doctor?" she asked drily.

    He shook his head. "No, no I haven't. Is there something I should know?"

    Kendra nodded immediately. "Yes. Dealing with Marines is like dealing with a whole new race. We are all part of the military but it's two separate branches. We cooperate but everything is still separate. So if you tell one of the Marines that they need to be taken off of active duty, they're likely to tell you to go to hell. The only chance you'll have of that would be to convince one of their medics that you're right. But, honestly, they tend to take care of their own. The only time you would really be tending to them would be if it were a major emergency."

    "Really now? Wow. Is there anything else I need to know?"

    "Yeah," she remarked. "Most of them tend to like us as much as I like them." Kendra smiled. "We're just going to be one big happy family on this ship."

    "That's good then," Christopher laughed, "When do we start this voyage of the damned?"

    "As soon as everyone hauls ass off the planet. We're transporting them up on request." Kendra replied.

    "Well then, if you'll excuse me, Captain. I'll go and prep sick bay for departure. Please feel free to come and visit every now and again, the tea is always hot and the crumpets are plentiful." Christopher smiled as he got out of the chair.

    Kendra giggled and stood up, holding her hand out towards the doctor, "Welcome aboard the Apocalypse, doctor."

    Christopher shook her hand warmly, "Please, call me Christopher."

    "Only if you'll call me Kendra," she smiled.

    "You have a deal," the Doctor said. And with that, he left, leaving Kendra to her office once again, this time to contemplate their meeting. The ship was seemingly full of ex-cons. She shook her head and grinned. Damn, this was going to be an interesting ship.
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    #6
    Part Five - Kendra, Curtis, Christopher and the crew.

    -----------
    Sick Bay

    "I don't give a damn what your programming says! YOU will assist ME as and when I need you to. Get it?" Christopher yelled.

    "Hmm, there really is no ne.." the EMH started to say.

    "Computer end program." cut in Christopher.

    The hologram vanished leaving Christopher alone in sick bay. The computer beeped<The time is 0755, briefing in 5 minutes>. Christopher left sick bay behind vowing to reprogram the damn EMH as soon as briefing was over. He would erase the bloody thing's attitude first and work in a new personality. An idea formed in his head which made him smile. He instructed the turbolift to take him to the briefing room and walked in, feeling much better now that his vengeance was planned.

    "Ah, and this would be our good Doctor. How are you doing?" Kendra piped up, glad that the young doctor was here to change the topic.

    "Doing fine." smiled Christopher.

    "How goes the sickbay? Everything under control down there?" she asked.

    "A rather advanced little sick bay. Of course, the EMH has an attitude you could power a warp core with, but I'll handle that."

    Kendra grinned. "Well, you'll have to pardon me when I tell you that I hope I won't be in need of your services."

    "Ah, well, hope springs eternal." replied Christopher.

    "Yeah, she's already been in enough hospitals to last her a lifetime." Hawkins muttered.

    Christopher tried to hide his grin as he took his seat.

    Kendra looked around the nearly full room. Damn, these rooms looked smaller from the head of the table. Oh well. She didn't want to wait any longer and nudged Hawkins as she stood up. The room suddenly fell still.

    Hawkins stood up to address the staff, but was momentarily cut off by the emergence of SEAL Teams 1 and 2. "Glad you could join us."

    Chris Sabien nodded. "Sorry we're late. Aspen said she wasn't feeling well."

    "Neither were Dorn and Destaphono." Keith Bednash stated. "Must've been the lousy Risan food."

    "Fine, we'll inform them later." Hawkins said and turned back to the rest of the staff. "I want to first start out by thanking all of you for showing up promptly. I am Major Curtis Hawkins, Marine CO of the ship. I am also Team leader of SEAL Team 1, I hold the rank of 1st Lieutenant in that. To my right is Commander Kendra Summers."

    "Thank you, Major," she said, with a small nod. Then she addressed the room. "As he said, I am Commander Kendra Summers. I am the Starfleet CO of the ship, making up the other half of this duo. Now, this is a unique ship so I think it would be beneficial to lay some ground rules out for everyone. Both of us run the ship and all major decisions concerning the ship will be made by the both of us."

    "All my people will show her respect at all times, this is her ship too. And although my people will not carry out major orders for her, they will indeed follow minor ones."

    Sabien raised his hand. "Define major and minor."

    Hawkins nodded. "If she orders you to override my orders, you will not listen, unless I am physically or mentally unfit. If she orders you to protect her crew or herself, then you better do it without hesitation."

    Kendra nodded. "The same goes for the Starfleet personnel. "This is not to keep everyone segregated but rather just to avoid confusion when it comes down to the important stuff."

    "As for SEAL Team 2, I cannot order them around either. Lt. Sabien is in charge of his own Team. The SEAL Teams will be instructed by SEAL HQ and will follow out their own orders. Be it different or cooperative with the Fleet and Marines." Hawkins said. "Any questions? No?"

    "Okay, now that we've gotten the preliminaries out of the way... I've received our first mission from Starfleet Headquarters. Seems we're to go patrol the Neutral Zone. Guess they want to give us something easy for our first time out," Kendra shrugged.

    Christopher thought for a moment, "Excuse me commander, this is a test, isn't it? Section 31 wants to see if this little experiment will work before making us active. They want to see whether we'll screw it up by tearing into one another, marines versus fleeters. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not going to give them the satisfaction."

    Christopher held his hand out to Chris Sabien, smiled and said, "Hi, I'm Christopher Cushing, CMO and fleeter scum."

    Sabien stared at the man's pro-offered hand and was wondering if he should spit on it or not. He refrained and looked at the man dead in the eyes. "I don't appreciate your earlier comment."

    Hawkins leaned back in his chair and smiled. He knew what Sabien was talking about, but he refused to say anything. Mainly because he wanted to see if this ended peacefully or in a bloodbath.

    Christopher's smile vanished immediately, "I beg your pardon." he said in a tone of voice that dropped the room temperature several degrees.

    "You said earlier and I quote 'They want to see whether we'll screw it up by tearing into one another, marines versus fleeters.' So basically you referred to My Team and I as Marines and or Starfleet." Sabien said evenly. "We are not Marines and we sure the hell aren't fleeters; we are SEALs, the most elite fighting force in the universe and don't you forget it."

    "I take it you've never met the borg then?" Christopher asked.

    "Okay, people," Kendra interjected quickly. "Let's try not to kill each other before we even get started..."

    Sabien didn't reply to the man and lead his Team out the door.

    Hawkins looked at the new Starfleet doctor. "You must excuse the Lieutenant, he's a little high strung. Has been ever since we were kids."

    "How to make friends and influence people." Christopher stated.

    Hawkins shrugged. "He just doesn't know you and he is a bit on the antisocial side. Besides, you just insulted him."

    Christopher glanced at Kendra with a confused look on his face. "You said, 'You've never worked with marines before, have you doctor.' I call this guy a marine and he wants to rip my throat out. If anyone needs me, I'll be in sickbay re-arranging the EMH."

    "I wouldn't worry about it to much, Doc. Sooner or later you two will be ok with each other. Unless you get on his bad side again. After that, you have an enemy for life." Hawkins said. "Anyway, if there isn't any further discussion; it was nice meeting you all and welcome aboard the Apocalypse."

    Kendra started to say something as the doctor started to leave the room, but stopped herself. She would have left the room, too. Then Hawkins called after him as he left. He almost seemed amused by the whole situation. And that, of course, annoyed Kendra in itself.

    With that, Hawkins left his seat and walked out the door. Kendra looked around the room and put on a faux smile. "Well, that went marvellously," she said sarcastically. "Okay, people, I'd say that just about wraps it up. My office is..." she made an elaborate gesture with her hand. "It's somewhere on this ship, I don't remember where. Just call me if you need anything. Dismissed."

    ---------------
    Sick Bay

    Christopher fumed quietly in his office. Today was not a good day, first the argument with the damned EMH and then, Sabien and his superiority complex. If he couldn't do anything about Sabien...

    "Computer, access Starfleet file Lt Cmdr Natalya Kasmirov and display." The computer started spouting off Natalya's details. "Yes, yes, I know all that computer. Access holographic file and overlay onto EMH program 1."

    The computer beeped in reponse, 'Authorisation required from Chief Medical Officer' Christopher fed his code into the keypad.

    'Code accepted, file overlaid.'

    "Good, now reload Starfleet Medical Database into EMH."

    'Working, please stand by'

    Christopher walked to the office replicator and ordered tea. As he returned, the computer piped, 'Program changes complete'

    "Excellent, computer, activate EMH program."

    There she was, Natalya, his closest friend since the academy. He had forgotten how much he missed her.

    "What do you want?" asked the EMH.

    Christopher laughed out loud, that was Natalya all right, straight to the point. This was going to be fun. "I'm sorry, I was just checking the program." he said.

    "Very well, as I appear to be working, you may deactivate me." she said.

    "Oh, thank you very much. Computer, de-activate EMH."

    She faded into nothingness and left Christopher smiling in the office. It was too quiet for him. He headed out into the corridor and caught the first turbolift we could find. "Bridge." he said.

    The doors opened and he stepped out onto the bridge, a current hive of activity. Kendra looked up from her chair, "Problem doctor?"

    "Not at all, I just thought I'd see how things were at the sharp end." he replied.

    Kendra had her leg draped over the armrest, swinging her foot back and forth. "Not much going on up here. Just watching the stars go by," she shrugged, motioning to the viewscreen. "How goes things down in sickbay?"

    "Much better now that I've reprogrammed the EMH. Now it doesn't have an ego the size of this ship."

    Kendra motioned to the vacant seat next to her, "Have a seat."

    Christopher walked around and flopped down with a sigh.

    "Actually, I've got some good news for you. You're getting an assistant, name of Garrett." Kendra said.

    Christopher looked at her in surprise, "Really, someone must have pulled some strings on that one. Yesterday it was just me and the EMH."

    She shrugged. "Guess so. New crew is coming aboard the ship everyday with practically no notice. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Anything's better than being undermanned. Speaking of which, your new addition came at a good time."

    He raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

    "Yup," she replied. "Seems were getting new additions in all departments. So that means more lovely physicals for you. You're gonna have the busy little sickbay, Doc. And you'll need all the help you can get."

    "Is there anything you can tell me about my assistant?" he asked curiously.

    Kendra spun around a little in her chair to rest her feet on the floor. "Capable officer, excellent service record... Been described as having a fairly friendly personality. But I don't know how much faith I'd put in just the bio. Sometimes they hide the true person, ya know? Oh yeah! And Garrett was also an honest to God Section 31 operative before this assignment. Specializes in constructive/re constructive surgery. Seems that Garrett has a gift for altering peoples appearances."

    Christopher nodded thoughtfully. "Could come in handy in our line of work."

    "I'll say," she replied. "But somehow I think that the idea of wearing someone else's face is just creepy..."

    "You can say that again," Christopher shuddered, "I've performed a few 'maskings' myself, but I've never had one done to me."

    They sat in the relative silence of the bridge for a few minutes.

    "This is it, isn't it?" asked Christopher.

    "What's what?" Kendra inquired, puzzled.

    "This is the last time things are going to be quiet. Sure, when we're between missions, it'll be peaceful, but we'll have crewman running around doing things, reports coming in. Stuff like that."

    "I don't know, it kinda reminds me of the nights in the mental institute. Minus the screaming and ranting of course."

    Christopher looked down at his hands, "I used to dream of moments like these, now I don't dream."

    "Everybody dreams, even Vulcans dream, alright it's probably about logic puzzles, but they still dream."

    "Not me, not anymore." He looked into Kendra's eyes, "Ever since I was rescued, every dream has turned into a nightmare. I see people that have been dead for years, yelling at me, saying I could have saved them if only I tried harder. That's usually when I wake up screaming."

    Kendra sat still in her chair, keeping his gaze. "It's still a dream. It may not be a good dream, but it is a dream nonetheless," she said gently.

    "It's a nightmare."

    She turned to fully face him now. "When I was in the mental institution the first time, I had nightmares similar to that. I was communicating with the Betazoid Captain of the ship telepathically when he was killed by Jem Ha'dar troops. For months afterwards, I would wake up in a cold sweat, practically in tears, over what I saw in when I closed my eyes. I would go for days without sleeping until they either had to sedate me or I passed out from exhaustion. Sometimes they would even manifest themselves into hallucinations. He would talk to me and beg me over and over again to help him."

    He stared at her for a moment, trying to decide if she was sincere or not. "How did you make them stop?"

    Kendra leaned back in her chair and gave him a small smile. "I told myself they were just dreams."

    "It's worth a try. Do you know that nearly two years worth of Starfleet councillors didn't even think of that. I tend to avoid them now." Christopher looked at the stars again, "Believe it or not, Kendra, you have worn someone else's face."

    Kendra sat back and draped her leg over the chair arm again, "When?"

    "Just now when you weren't being the Commander of a starship, you were just being a concerned person. Your whole expression changed. You could even see the expression in those eyes of yours."

    "Really?" she asked.

    "Ah, I see you're back." he said as he saw her expression change.

    "Tell me Christopher, do you play cards at all?"

    "Never got the taste for it, all that 'We're starfleet officers and we must play cards' thing always seemed silly."

    Kendra looked at him, "It's a good job really. You're quite good at noticing expressions then?"

    "Well, when you see such a variety when dealing with people, telling friends and family that someone is dead, telling a patient that they have an awful disease, telling someone that they are cured, you recognize them easily." Christopher explained.

    She nodded. "When I was in security, all I saw a wide range of faces. So I can tell some things. But I have to admit that there are just some things that elude me."

    "Oh really?"

    "Yup," she replied. "Like if it has something to do with professional issues, I can spot it like that. Anything personal, especially if it pertains to me.... I have no clue. It's like you have to beat me over the head. Oh well."

    Christopher was puzzled. "Pardon me for saying so, but couldn't you sense it as a Betazoid?"

    "I could, but I don't," Kendra explained. "We won't pick anyone's brain without their consent but I don't even like to use empathic abilities. Something I just won't shake from my ordeal in the past. Oh well."

    "That's understandable I suppose." Christopher reasoned. "I reckon that I should be getting sick bay prepared for my new nurse. Be terrible bad manners to have the place a mess when he arrives."

    Kendra nodded, "Good thinking that man. I may pop in later to have a chat with him and to get some more crumpets and tea of course." she smiled.

    "Oh, of course" Christopher smiled, "and if there is anything else milady would like, she need only ask."

    Kendra laughed, "Wow! that was so hokey, but I have to admit that you have the British accent to carry off that old world flaky charm thing."

    Christopher put on a mock hurt expression, "Flaky old world charm? My ancestors spoke like that for nearly a thousand years!" Finally, he laughed, "I guess it does sound kinda hokey now."

    Kendra grinned like a cheshire cat, "On your way, brigand! I have a ship of the stars to sail!"

    Christopher bowed, "As you wish."