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Story - Star Trek: Disavowed Part 3

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WelshAvenger, Wed 22 Aug, 2018 7:46 PM
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    #16
    Chapter 15 - Loyalties

    "Are you sure that you want to do this, bro?" asked a concerned Lance Walker as he and Halloway walked through the 'Fleet decks torwards the councellor's office.

    Halloway nodded and stopped in front of the door. "I have to. Some things just have to be done."

    "Fine, just be stubborn about it. I'll wait for you out here."

    Halloway turned away and entered the councellor's office. "You're a nervous guy, Lance. You should be in here, not me."

    As he entered the office, the councellor's secratary gave him the once over. "Can I help you?"

    "Probably not." Halloway replied. "But I think that the councellor can. The name is Halloway."

    "One moment."

    Jade looked up as the door opened, a young woman popped her head inside to tell her that was someone waiting to see her. Walking to the door she smiled.

    "Hello, you know you can come in." she grinned and motioned for him to enter. Once he was inside her office she motioned for him to sit, before sitting down on the opposite sofa.

    "You don't have to be so uptight you know" she smiled, "I may be ex-borg but I don't assimilate and I certainly don't bite...what can I do for you?."

    Bobby wanted to make a wisecrack at her earlier comment, but he refrained. "Just thought it would be 'healthy' to see a head shrinker."

    "Thanks for the vote of confidence" she shook her head but smiled all the same.

    "Where should I start?" he asked. "How my father refused to take me to the zoo when I was a kid, or how I'm deathly afraid of chocolate pudding?"

    "Are you serious?" she grinned. "Sorry but I can't see either of those being the real reason you're here."

    His brow furrowed. "Didn't think you would actually take me seriously on those comments. I was just kidding. How about you ask a few questions, break out the ink blots, and we'll go from there."

    "I haven't had much of a chance to memorise personnel files yet but from what I recall yours was mostly classified anyway." she sat down opposite. "How's about you start with what really brought you here."

    Halloway smiled. "And what if I don't want to tell you, Miss."

    "I'm an empath, and I'm also a telepath... which in short means I can sense what you're feeling and if I wanted to I could read what you're thinking..." she paused. "however I don't believe in prying, so it's up to you to tell me."

    "Well ma'am, seems like I really don't have to tell you jack, because you can just invade my mind whenever you want. You can try and play nice, but how am I suppose to believe that you won't just jump into my noggin?

    "Trust me" she smiled. "a lot of people around here don't and that's part of the problem.... maybe you can prove them wrong. Tell me about you...what do you like to do in your off hours?, what do you do for fun?."

    He couldn't help but to laugh. This was really amusing him. "Trying to flirt now? What's wrong, couldn't straight out and ask me if I had a girlfriend?"

    "It's not a chat up!" she grinned. "I'm simply trying to find out more about you... as a patient and a person."

    "I see." he replied. "Hmmm let's see, I like to play checkers, shoot weapons, and destroy things. On my free time I like to have several alcoholic beverages and try to pick up women."

    "Not exactly the most healthy thing to do, don't you agree?"

    He shook his head. "No, I think it's quite healthy to down a few brew and go home with a complete stranger. A person learns a lot from those experiences. Hell, sometimes you can actually develop a nice relationship."

    "I'm not going into that one," she smiled. "what about your work?"

    "My work?" he repeated. "Now that classified, you should know that. But let's just say I'm in the waste disposal unit."

    "I'm not asking you to go into details, I'm just asking how you feel about what you do." she looked at him as though studying his reaction to being asked.

    Halloway shrugged. "Never really thought about it. You have to have a strong stomach for my line of work. Lots of blood and gore."

    "Does it bother you?, you do have to remember all those faces...how does it make you feel?."

    "They're just faces." he replied. "Nameless faces who needed to be stopped."

    "Don't play Mr Tough with me...." she looked at him, her eyes meeting his to show her sincerity. "all I want to do is help you, now you came here for a reason... tell me."

    He looked at her for a moment and nodded his head. "Alright, I'll tell you. But you have to tell me a little about you first. I don't like expressing my feelings to absolute strangers."

    "I can understand that" she nodded. "It wasn't easy for me getting back in amongst normal people after being with the Borg."

    He nodded. Bobby had heard all kinds of stories about ex-borgs and their experiences. "Man, that must've been rough."

    "Yes it was" she nodded.

    "I've read reports about people wanting to hear all of those voices in the collective again. They said it's like a sense of peace..a drug so to say. Do you ever think about that?"

    "I used to" she paused. "for a while it's all you hear, them calling you back... you have to learn to ignore it and drive yourself on."

    Bobby listened closely and nodded. "Do you hold nothing but animosity torwards the Borg then?"

    "To be honest... I don't know." she smiled. "I have a memory full of faces and voices of people I don't know who were assimilated. It's hard but life goes on."

    "I would." he replied and stood up to leave. "Well thanks for the conversation. It was enlightening."

    "Hold on one minute..." she looked at him wanting to probe his thoughts but she resisted the temptation. "let me guess.... you're testing me?."

    "You should've sensed my thoughts." he said. "I'm just fine mentally. I was just ordered to go on a RECON mission, that's all. Now I've got the information I needed, so I'm going back to work. Goodbye Counsellor."

    Jade stood with her mouth open, she could understand the crew being uncertain of her but this....

    Before he left he called back to her. "Don't take it personally. It's just business."

    "Business!" she shook her head. "Just Business.... "

    She watched him go before turning around, her temper flared but she kept it in check. She only hoped Halloway's little recon mission worked in her favour.

    Jade sat in her office fuming over the fact that Halloway was sent to test her, what if she had scanned him... what would they have done?. She could understand the necessity of testing her but it still made her mad.

    Sitting there she heard a faint noise remembering the hidden communications device she had in her office she locked the office door before retrieving it from it's hiding place.

    “What now?!” she looked at the face on the tiny screen.

    “Not a good day Jade?” Artis looked at her inquisitively, “Not getting along? You can come home you know.”

    “It's not THAT bad.” she shook her head. “I’m just trying to fit in that's all. I don't want to come home, not just now anyway.”

    The man on the screen smiled, “I didn't think you would. You never were one to back away from a challenge.”

    Jade sighed, “Is there some particular reason why you're calling me?” She looked at the screen. “This ship is more enhanced than anything I've seen they might track the signal.”

    “Did they track the last communication?.”

    Jade squirmed, “No.. but..”

    “Then they won't, this device is designed to emitting a jamming signal you know that.” Said Artis.

    Jade nodded, the last thing she needed was to get herself into trouble for receiving unauthorized transmissions on a vessel that, until recently, she didn't even know existed.

    He continued, “We'll have a ship in and out of the system for the forseeable future. It's mainly going to be responsible for getting new ally's for the bureau and more training area's for the forces. I thought you should know they've been told to accept your orders should you require any assistance at any time.”

    Jade blinked in surprise, “My orders? I'm not that highly ranked in the forces.”

    “But you are our only contact outside of our system Jade, and the only Drax in Starfleet.”

    “That's very.... kind.” she smiled briefly. “I have to go, I have some more exploring to do we're leaving on a mission.”

    Artis smiled patiently, “Very well Jade. Good luck.”

    With that he was gone, Jade placed the small device back in it's hiding place before heading out of her office to explore her new ship.

    Jade had left her office and started walking trying to calm herself down a bit. For a counsellor she wasn't one to be around when she was angry so she tended to take walks to cool off.

    Heading to the turbolift she decided to do some exploring, as she'd never served aboard an Intrepid class ship before it was going to be a whole new experience learning her way around. It was best to get lost now rather than during an emergency.

    A few minutes later she'd explored one or two places not bothering to go right along each deck she came to as she'd be at it all day. Stepping out of the turbolift at the next deck she came to she immediately stopped to re-think her choice as she found herself on what must have been the deck where the marines were based, her senses immediately picked up the fact that she wasn't entirely welcome and the fact she'd turned every head in the corridor didn't help. She nodded politely as she walked forward.

    “Don't mind me.... just looking around.”

    Making her way along the deck she refused to be intimidated, Halloway had checked her out now it was her turn to repay the favour.... she carried on walking slowly and deliberately taking in her surroundings. When she was done she made her way back to the turbolift, smiling to herself she told the lift her destination.
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    #17
    Chapter 16 - Awkward

    Azura hadn't been out of the meeting for five minutes when she'd already been called to duty. Apparently, a couple of crewmen were not happy at all that they had been called back aboard the ship and were making a stick about it. Oh yeah, they were completely wasted too. Always fun.

    After having tossed them into the brig to sober up, she was on her way back down the corridor, towards the turbolift. She pressed the button, and waited for the lift to arrive. Azura couldn't wait to get to her quarters; she'd had enough time to throw her bags in the room and then sprint to the meeting that she was already late for. She wanted to unpack.

    The turbolift doors finally opened and she looked up at the sole occupant of the turbolift. "Well, hello."

    Hawkins found himself staring into the eyes of the woman who he never thought he would see again. "Ah dammit."

    "Ohhh, again with the swear words..." she pouted. "You know, a girl might begin to think that you're not happy to see her..."

    "Look, what do you want from me?" he said as he yanked her into the lift. "We had a one night thing and that's all. We made a mistake."

    "Hey, hey. Careful. I bruise easily, though you already know that," she said with a little wink as she called for her deck. "I've just been stationed aboard the ship you have, hon. No more, no less. Of course, if we're serving together and something more than a one night thing develops, then I know I won't be complaining..."

    Now that caught this attention. "I swear, you're the most determined woman I've ever met in my life."

    "When I like something, I go after it..." she told him with a little smirk.

    "Well you need to start 'unliking', missy. What you are doing is against the rules and I don't feel like being reprimanded over something I can control."

    Azura tossed her dark hair over her shoulder. "Oh, come now, Curtis. You can't say that you're entirely unhappy to see me..."

    Hawkins face leaned close and to the casual observer it appeared that he was about to kiss her. "I'd rather be having a root canal while Jem'Hadar soldiers have me pinned down in a firefight."

    "My, God, you can be mean." Azura grinned. "I like it."

    "Why me of all people? he asked. "I was just sitting in the bar, minding my own business, then you walked into my life."

    Azura shook her head. "No, no, no. Can't go changing history like that. As I recall, I was sitting in the bar and you sent a drink over to me. So..." she said as she ran a fingertip down his chest. "You started this..."

    Hawkins glared at her. This was getting out of hand. "I'm warning you right now. If you don't lay off, I'm going to Summers and reporting you in for misconduct....AND sexual harassment." It was a funny thing coming from his mouth.

    "Somebody's a tattle tale..." she cooed and stepped closer to him.

    Hawkins shoved her hands off of him and held her against the wall of the lift. "Last warning. Leave me alone."

    Azura tossed him a smile and her eyes twinkled. She leaned forward and started to nibble his earlobe. "I don't think you really want that..." she whispered as she started to nuzzle his neck.

    He froze and felt her hot breath on his neck. It was enough to send goosebumps up his spine. He sighed contentedly, then whispered "Stop that."

    She kissed his neck. "Stop what?" she asked coyly.

    "What you're doing. Just stop it."

    You seemed to like it the other night. Along with the full body massage..." she told him as she managed to pull her hands out of his grasp and gently rub his arms.

    Images of the past experience began to flood his mind. He was extremely drunk at the time, but when someone reminds the other person, certain remarkable vision were brought forth. "It was wrong."

    "But you know what I think you liked the best?"

    Hawkins sighed miserably. "What?"

    She grinned. "When I cleaned the edible body oil off of you..." she said with a little nibble on his lower lip.

    "Oh God." he muttered. This had to stop. The woman was a female mantis, just waiting for the right moment to bite his head off. He was about to give in to her temptation, but his morals kicked in and he pulled his lip away from her. "I'm not in Command of you, but I want you to stop this immediately."

    "Why do you keep fighting this?"

    "Why don't you go find some fleeter to mess with?"

    "Why would I want a fleeter when I can have a big, strong marine?" she said. "You know what they say is true about marines... You are much better in bed."

    His eyes grew wide. "That has nothing to do with it!"

    "Oh, so you, in particular, are naturally talented?"

    Hawkins tried to come up with the right words, but failed miserably. This woman always stayed one up on him.

    The doors slid open for her deck. "Oh, looks like this is my stop. My quarters are here, just around the corner, actually. Thought you might want to know."

    "I'll forget it as soon as the doors close." he retorted, but they both knew he was lying.

    Azura smiled and blew him a kiss. "See ya later, Major."

    Hawkins watched as the doors closed and he took a deep breath to try and relax himself. Even though he couldn't stand the woman, he kept the memory of deck 3 on his mind...
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    #18
    Chapter 17 - Oblivious

    After the Commander's briefing, Kennedy went back to check on her squad, giving them a bit of insight on what their mission was and getting them to work on situational drills. She straightened her cammies, heading back to her quarters to put on her regular duty uniform. All ready to get back into some sort of combat situation after so long of being out of direct danger, she found herself needing a good outlet to let her frustrations out. The Gorn sounded like just that outlet, and she ran over various possibilities in her mind, trying to determine what they wanted - and how to beat them at their own game.

    Molly, meanwhile, put a few of their things away after the briefing - just those few things they'd taken along with them for their canceled shore leave. She still wore her duty uniform, but was perfectly comfortably in it for the time being. As soon as everything was put away, she moved to the replicator to program in some lunch. The Risan wasn't scheduled to go on duty until the night shift, and so she waited for Kennedy to arrive and join her for what she hoped would be a perfectly quiet afternoon.

    Kennedy stepped off the turbolift and headed down the hall, entering their quarters a moment later. Lunch was just being pulled from the replicator as the Marine stepped in: two bowls of chili and cornbread ... one with meat, one vegetarian. Two glasses of ice water quickly followed.

    "Hi..." Molly smiled over to Kennedy. The Marine, meanwhile, moved over to Molly and leaned in to kiss her cheek, muttering softly. "Hiya darlin'."

    Molly returned the kiss, then rubbed her partner's arm for a second. "Hungry?"

    The Marine was obviously a bit moody, and merely grunted in response, moving to pick up a PADD she'd left on the coffee table that morning. Molly watched her, one eyebrow lifting in a near perfect Vulcan like gesture as she watched Kennedy walk away. "I guess not ... I'll just stick this big bowl of Texas chili back in the replicator, then..." she said with a teasing tone.

    Glancing over her PADD, Kennedy looked up, and answered her in a distracted tone. "Hmm?"

    Molly just rolled her eyes. She wasn't paying attention, and the Risan didn't feel like dragging the joke out again. "Never mind." And so she sat down at the table in front of her own bowl, eating without her. She was hungry and didn't feel like waiting till her partner got her ♥♥♥♥ together enough to join her. She decided to just let her go about whatever she was doing, not going to ask her again. Molly figured if Kennedy was hungry, she'll sit down and eat, and if not, her food will go cold without her.

    Kennedy glanced over to her, blinking a few times and watching her eat. She bit her lip, knowing she'd missed something important but wasn't sure what it was. Finally she just sighed and rubbed her forehead, sitting down on the couch uneasily. She tried to read over the PADD in her hand, but found herself having to read things over several times. She rubbed her eyes, leaning back against the couch for a moment.

    Molly ate quietly. She had been looking forward to spending some time with her lover since their vacation had been cut short, but would have to settle for her presence from across the room. She finished her meal in silence, the put her dishes back in the replicator and watched them dissolve. Moving to the desk, she flopped in the chair and checked the status of the holodeck - empty. Perfect. She reserved the suite for two hours, and finally moved to the bedroom to change into jogging clothes. Moments later, she emerged from the bedroom wearing a black and white sports bra and a matching pair of tight running pants. A pair of tennis shoes in hand, she settled herself in a chair to fix her hair and shoes before leaving.

    Kennedy sighed. She was frustrated with herself and with her reading, and just a wee bit sick to her stomach. She looked up to see Molly returning, and blinked blurry, weary eyes. "Where are you going?"

    "Holodeck," she responded briefly.

    "Oh..." Kennedy laid her head back on the couch, watching her partner through silted eyes.

    Molly shrugged, and muttered softly, "You're busy - and I can take a hint." She tied her shoes, standing again before pulling her hair into a tight braid.

    The Marine glanced to the PADD in her lap and sighed. "I've been trying to read this thing all day..." She raised a dark brow. "And take what hint?"

    The doctor shrugged again. You're busy. You're trying to read, and you were practically ignoring me. I'm not upset, but I will give you your space, at least. And besides, it's been a while since I've felt up to running."

    Kennedy growled lowly, and set the PADD down on her lap. "I'm not busy ... not with anything important, anyway."

    Molly glanced at her, briefly curious as to why she was so upset, but let the moment pass. "All right..."

    Kennedy stood and headed to the bedroom. "Have a good run," she muttered before dropping to the bed face first.

    Molly sighed, losing her resolve. She stuck her head into the bedroom. "You ... want to come with me, maybe?" Getting no response from her prone partner, she moved to sit on the bed next to her, rubbing her hand over Kennedy's back lightly. "Honey? Is something wrong?" She glanced down at the PADD resting haphazardly next to Kennedy, and her gaze softened as she read the title: "The History of Betazed."

    The Marine finally let out a deep breath. "Just a headache ... no big deal."

    "Again?" Molly frowned slightly. She leaned down into her partner and gently kissed the back of her neck, but had a hidden purpose to her nuzzling. The doctor leaned into her neck, feeling for a fever against her cheek - hm. Not one. But it didn't alleviate her concern. "How long's this been going on?" Finding out about Kennedy's genetic origins hadn't helped subdue her headaches any; it had only brought about a psychosomatic reason for them. Her body was developing her Betazoid borne abilities, albeit later in life than most.

    Kennedy turned her head to peek up at the Risan beside her. "Mol, I have some sort of headache almost every day. It's just worse sometimes."

    Molly curled up behind her, snuggling in close and nuzzling into her neck. "I don't like this one bit," she informed her lover quietly. "I'm worried about you, sweetheart."

    The Marine sighed. "I've been trying to read about my bloody Betazoid part. I have a feeling I've gotten a few of their telepathic or empathic abilities. It seems I have to learn how to develop them ... guess I'm just a late bloomer."

    "Seems like it," Molly agreed softly. "I know the new counselor is Betazoid, or at least partly. Maybe you should have a chat with her, see what you can do to get your abilities under control so you'll stop being in so much pain?"

    Despite the pain it brought to her head, the Marine laughed out loud. "Me? Go to a headshrink? Are you crazy?" She shook her head. "That's almost as funny as grunts and doctors getting along."

    Molly muttered. "But this grunt and this doctor seem to get along quite nicely, thank you very much. And don't go to her as a 'headshrink.' Go talk to her as a fellow officer, maybe buy her a drink - see if she can help you." Molly was obviously not going to take no for an answer on this subject.

    "Molly, I can't do that. Marines just don't mix well with counselors," Kennedy sighed in protest.

    "If you don't go willingly, I'll order you there as your doctor - for the good of this ship and crew." She said in a tone that was only half in jest; but it was only because of her sheer concern for her lover. She nuzzled lightly against her neck, running her free hand over her partner's side and chest meaningfully. "Besides, if you behave like a good Marine and go talk to her, I'll make it worth your while..."

    The Marine groaned in protest of her attempt, but leaned into her touch. "You don't play fair..."

    "I play plenty fair," Molly whispered softly. "Are you going to be a good little Marine, then?" The Risan pulled out all the stops. She blew warm air gently over her ear before suckling in the lobe for a sweet kiss. Kennedy finally couldn't stand it any longer, and turned her head to look Molly in the eyes.

    "Yes, I'll go," she resigned.

    Molly's face took on a satisfied smile. "Good." She kissed Kennedy's lips lightly, and abruptly hopped off the bed. Kennedy blinked, looking up at her.

    "Where the hell are you going?" she groused.

    "Running!" The doctor winked and moved towards the door, knowing full well Kennedy'd be after her in a heartbeat.

    As if on cue, Kennedy growled lowly. "You can't do that - you can't make me forget completely about my headache and then just up and leave me." She put on her best pout, looking to Molly to see if it had worked. The Risan just smirked, moving to the door. She was going to get Kennedy to catch her and that's all there was to it.

    The Marine finally pushed off the bed and moved faster than most would imagine, wrapping her arms around Molly's waist. "Hold it now..."

    Molly grinned, turning in her lover's arms to face her. "Hold it why?"

    Kennedy narrowed green eyes. "Cause I have something way better to offer than a run on the holodeck."

    Molly blinked innocently. Yep, she was innocent as a flower, as a daisy, as a ... nevermind. "And whatever might that be?"

    Kennedy leaned in and kissed her gently. "That give you any hints?"

    "Hm ... I'm starting to get the idea." She grinned softly, stepping just back inside their quarters and allowing the door to woosh closed.

    Kennedy smiled down at her. "Thank you."

    Molly ran her fingers lightly over Kennedy's side. "What for?" she asked softly, snuggling into her partner's arms.

    In response, Kennedy leaned down and nuzzled against her neck. "For making me feel better. You always do that, you know."

    Happy noises indicated Molly's mood, and her eyes drifted closed as she rested her cheek on Kennedy's shoulder. "Mm. You're pretty damn good at it yourself, as a matter of fact."

    The Marine lifted her head and reached over, lifting Molly's chin. She ran her finger gently down her jaw. "You know I'm crazy about you, right?"

    Molly turned her head, nipping lightly at the finger before responding. "I know. The feeling is mutual, you know." She smiled softly. "C'mon - I'll go replicate you a fresh bowl of chili and we'll have the whole afternoon to relax together..." she started.

    But Kennedy wasn't done singing her partner's praises. She held fast to the Risan beauty. "Hold on ... I'm not done yet."

    Molly just chuckled. "Okay..."

    Kennedy took a deep breath, rather nervous. Damn - she was losing her resolve. Best to get this out quick, then, she thought. "Uh ... well, I guess I just wanted to throw something out there."

    Molly nodded slightly. Never had she seen her Marine so nervous looking. Whatever it was, must have been damn important. "I'm listening..."

    Kennedy swallowed hard. "Well, I know we've been moving kind of fast, and I'm not sure how you feel about that. But well ... I, uh ... I was wondering if you'd like to think about making this a bit more permanent."

    "More permanent?" She rested her hand on Kennedy's back, running lazy, endless patterns with her finger. "Honey, we're already posted to the same ship, and I don't think either of us is going anywhere anytime soon - and we're sharing quarters ... now, unless you're talking marriage or something, I don't know what else there is," she finished with a teasing grin. Kennedy's green eyes went wide, and she tried to remember to breathe.

    Molly chuckled for a brief moment, slowing as she realized her partner was not also chuckling at the notion. She took a breath, looking into her eyes. "Is that what you meant, sweetheart?" She asked softly. "Were ... you trying to propose - and I just went and ruined it..." she sighed softly, nuzzling against her.

    Kennedy cleared her dry throat. "Uh - yeah."

    "Oh, honey..." She leaned in to kiss her lover's cheek. "I love you," she started quietly. "But like you said, we're moving kind of fast. I need time to think about this." She continued quickly before Kennedy had the chance to completely break down. "I'm not saying no, and I will say yes - but this is a big change for us. Let me just let it soak in for a while, and maybe we can try this again?" She asked with a hopeful smile.

    Kennedy only offered a small nod, her emotions already shutting down. "Okay," was her only response.

    Molly tried nuzzling again, but instead she stepped back and took Kennedy's hand, leading her back into the bedroom. "But for now - how about we celebrate, early. I'll even let you take me out to dinner tonight," she grinned. It was intended as a tease. It wasn't received that way.

    "Anything you want." Kennedy wasn't sure she felt like celebrating, since she felt so uncertain about Molly's answer.

    The Risan glanced at her, feeling bad that she couldn't immediately give Kennedy the answer she wanted. "I'll ... just go take a shower, then, and we can go." Biting her lip, she moved into the bathroom. Her head spinning, she disrobed and stepped into the shower. She really needed that run now to get her thoughts all sorted out. She sighed, letting the warm water cascade over her body. Kennedy meanwhile, sank down to the bed, trying to sort out what had just happened.
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    #19
    Chapter 18 - Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright.

    The heavy mist rolled over the forest floor like a thick carpet. Azura had been to the city for supplies when she heard the news; the war was over. The Danteri had been defeated and her world was finally free.

    Freedom.

    It was a word that she thought she'd never utter about her world, Xenex. Her people had been slaves on their own planet for over two hundred years now and only recently gathered enough courage to fight back. Up until this point, there had been very few areas that had been free. And they were occupied by the freedom fighters. But not anymore. Now the whole world was free.

    The young teenager couldn't help but to grin maniacally as she made her way through the forest, also an infrequent place on her planet. Xenex was mostly a desert planet; there weren't many green areas. But that's why it made it so wonderful to hide away from the Danteri soldiers in; they were not used to the terrain. Oh, they had tried many times to follow the members of her camp through the forest, but it was always in vain. They had yet to find her camp. But she couldn't wait to get back home and share the news. There was no need to hide anymore.

    ****
    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire in thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare seize the fire?
    ****

    Azura came across the river that marked her entrance to the encampment area. They always had guards posted around here, to stop any Danteri soldier that might have stumbled upon their realm, or to welcome any wayward Xenexian wanderer in need of a rest. She thought it odd that she hadn't seen anyone as of yet; must be changing of the guard or something.

    She knelt down beside the river, to get a drink for herself. Her hand dipped into the slow moving pool, and brought her hand up to her lips. What was taking the guard so long? It was very unusual to have this post unguarded for this long...

    The water became still once more, and she looked down into the pool. Her own reflection made her gasp. Azura's face was smudged with dirt and sweat. Her hair was tangled and wild, as if it hadn't been brushed in days. But it was her own eyes that made her wince. They blazed with a fire that was unknown to her, almost as if they were glowing. And they were angry.

    The fog suddenly cleared away so that she could see the other river bank. And the man laying half in the water and half out, unmoving...

    ****
    And what shoulder, and what art?
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand, and what dread feet?
    ****

    Azura felt as if her heart was going to pound right out of her chest and she sprinted through the forest to the camp. The Danteri had found the camp; maybe they hadn't heard that the war was over. Or worse. Maybe they had but they didn't care. She ran and ran until she thought her lungs were going to burst. Why couldn't she reach the camp? She wasn't that far. It was as if she was on some sort of giant treadmill; she was running as fast as she could but she was getting anywhere. Azura let out a primal scream of frustration fell to her knees, breathing raggedly.

    And then she heard more screams, and raised her head in that direction. She was was at the mouth of forest, just at the clearing where her camp lay. And it was in flames. There were people fighting all around, the clangs of their swords could be heard all around. There were people, Xenexian and Danteri alike, lying on the ground either dead or dying.

    And she saw her husband, Cn'wy, in fierce battle with a Danteri soldier. He was covered in sweat and blood, none of it his own. But it was very obvious that he was tired. He stumbled, and the Danteri took advantage of it and embedded his sword into her young husband's abdomen. The look on his face was a horrifying mixture of pain and shock, and then he fell to the ground.

    Azura didn't know where her sword came from; she didn't remember laying in on the ground beside here but it was suddenly there. Not that she really cared how it got there. In that moment, all she cared about was that Danteri. She wanted to see him die, gut him like a fish and watch him die before her eyes. He had his back to her. She grabbed the hilt of the sword and drew herself to her feet. She screamed and then charged out of the forest, straight at her target.

    ****
    What the hammer? What the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? What dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
    ****

    She was on RB-207. The main lights were out and the hallways were illuminated by the flashing red alert lights. Bodies lined the corridors just as they had before but, now, something was different. They weren't dead. All the people were lying on the floor in bloody heaps but by some grotesque twist of fate, they were alive. And they could feel. They called out in pain to her, begging her to help them, to end their suffering.

    Azura waded through the grabbing hands and pressed forward. She wanted to help them, but she couldn't stop. If she did, they might pull her down with them and she might not be able to leave. And that was not an option. No, the only way she could truly help them was to find the monster responsible for the carnage and kill it. Only then could these people truly find release.

    Turning the corner, she found herself in a corridor unlike the other. The hallway was completely clear, save for one person. He was unmoving. Azura recognized him as Captain Hargrove, the CO of the Grant. He was propped up against the door, his eyes staring into nothingness.

    She moved down the hallway towards the fallen Captain. Why, she didn't know. Something seemed to be leading her this way, almost as if unseen hands were pulling her down the hallway. And the something was behind the door that the Captain rested against. Yes, that was it. The Captain was the watchman for what lay behind the door.

    Azura pulled her phaser rifle closer to her and aimed it at the door. Stopping just in front of the corpse, she knelt down to close his eyes. His time of watching was over. Let his eyes rest as his body seemed to be.

    Suddenly, Hargrove grabbed her wrist and yanked her off her feet. He pulled her close to him and held her fast. "Get out," he whispered, his voice like cobwebs. Azura nearly gagged; his breath reeked of decay. "Don't go in there."

    ****
    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And watered heaven with their tears,
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb, make thee?
    ****

    She had to concentrate to keep from getting sick. "Why?"

    He was so close to her now, she could actually feel the waxy coolness of his skin against her cheek. "It's in there. It will kill you. Or worse."

    What the hell was that supposed to mean? "What's worse than death?" She was almost afraid to ask.

    "Being alive after death," he replied. "Like me." He grinned and something began to ooze out of his dead eye.

    That was it. Azura brought her phaser rifle around and shot him point blank in the abdomen. A look of shock crossed his face before his features went totally slack. His grip fell from her and she scrambled backwards to stare at him. His eyes had closed and he lay there as if nothing had happened. This time he looked at peace.

    "Rest in peace, Captain," she muttered.

    A metallic hand clamped down on her shoulder and instantly crushed it. Pain was sent searing down her body as she screamed. The hand picked her up and tossed her across the corridor as if she were a rag doll. She heard something snap as she fell to the ground. Her leg was broken. The impact from the wall left her momentarily disoriented but, the moment she regained her eyesight, she wished she hadn't.

    The creature stood in front of her, watching her. It was huge; eight feet tall, almost completely metal. It seemed much bigger than it had when she first saw it. And it was a hell of a lot scarier.

    She used her good arm and fired her weapon at the creature. It didn't even seem irritated. Instead it just laughed; it's laughter shook the deck. Azura screamed for help, hoping that there was someone around to hear her calls. It smiled. "Only the dead can hear your cries. And they can't help you." It reached out for her for the final blow. "Prepare to join them."

    ****
    Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
    ****

    Azura awoke with a start, her eyes fluttering open wide. She lay there, breathing hard, drenched with sweat, and staring at the ceiling. Sitting up, she took a deep breath and drew her knees to her chest. "Not again..." she muttered.

    She kicked the sheet off of her and swung her feet around to the floor. "Computer, lights!" she called and immediately regretted it as she was blinded. "Half illumination!" she called out. The computer complied and it was instantly much easier to see.

    She sleepily started stumbling her way to the bathroom. The dreams had started again. They only started up when something bad was going to happen. Something very bad. When she first left Xenex, it was just the trauma of watching Cn'wy die a senseless death. Of course, the way it happened in her dream wasn't exactly the way it had happened in real life. It never was. It was always more melodramatic, more gut wrenching, in the dream.

    But when the Tin Man incident happened on the Romulan station of RB-207... That had tagged itself onto the dream. The Romulans had been doing a little experiment, trying to build the perfect soldier. Unfortunately, they had not counted on the side effects that the Tal Shi'ar volunteer would suffer. Such as insanity. It had gone a rampage and killed everyone on the space station. A ship, the USS Grant, had been sent to investigate and had fallen suddenly silent. And that's when her team was dispatched.

    She was part of an elite team called a Ghost Team. That is, they had moved in when there was no one left to move in. They moved in quietly, and left just as quietly. Their job was eliminate the problem before there was a problem or, in this case, clean up. If they were caught, Starfleet had no knowledge of them. Anonymity was the name of the game. They even used callsigns instead of their real names; Azura used 'Tyger' as hers.

    She made it to the bathroom and turned on the sink. Letting the water run for a moment, she cupped her hands and caught the cool water. Azura threw it onto her face and then stood to dry her face. She saw her face, dripping wet, in the mirror. The light from the main part of her quarters illuminated the left side of her face, while the right side was still bathed in darkness. She reached out with a finger and traced a line around her own reflection.

    "What immortal hand or eye," she whispered to herself. "Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"
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    #20
    Chapter 19 - Confession

    Hawkins sat still in his command chair on the bridge, still pondering over Lt. Skyler and her brash attitude. To his right was Summers, and to her left was the borg councillor. Even though the Skyler incident was making him uneasy, the borg was more of a concern.

    Everyone had told him that Jade Taggert was normal again, but Hawkins felt unsure about that. He had seen the borg up close and personal and he had also seen the destruction they brought forth. Once a person was assimilated, they were never the same again. So what would make him believe that Taggert was a normal member of society again?

    "How about you have your person head us out, Summers? he asked. "I'm starting to grow cobwebs over here."

    Kendra eyed him for a moment. "Why are you so grumpy?"

    He just glared at her. "None of your damned business."

    She shrugged. "Well, good morning to you too, Sunshine."

    Hawkins gave her a 'don't test me' look and faced back forward.

    "Helm!" she called out. "Set a course for the Gorn system. Warp seven."

    Ivy smiled, thankful for something to do at last. “Course plotted Commander, waiting for your word.”

    "Take us out!" she said. Kendra turned back to Hawkins. "Happy now?"

    "Much happier. Thank you." he replied. "How is everything going in the fleeter world?"

    She shrugged. "Going okay, I guess. We got some good people, and hopefully they'll stick it out with us for a while."

    "New recruits coming along?"

    "Seem to be," she replied. "I still haven't formally met a few people, but they seem to be alright just form their bios. We got ourselves a new engineer, and finally got someone to run security. Not that Steve couldn't do it, but you know... Always nice to have someone official. How's the new marines?"

    He nodded. "Good, I promoted Markal and moved him into my squad. Haven't seen the other recruits yet. I think Shea is still interviewing them."

    "Ah," she said. "Sounds like fun. How are the men doing? Getting antsy down there?"

    "A little." Hawkins replied honestly. "I can't speak for Team 2."

    "I know that you aren't in charge of Team 2 and all, but do you know how they are doing with the Warhammer?" Kendra asked. "If they need any help then they have full access to the database..."

    "I'm sure the can handle it by themselves."

    Kendra rolled her eyes. "I wasn't implying that they were incompetent, I was just offering. Damn, you are grumpy today. What the hell is wrong with you?"

    Hawkins remained straight-faced. "Nothing."

    "Liar," she said.

    "Am not!"

    "Are too," she said, completely aware that they sounded like three year olds. But Kendra was nuts, so she had an excuse. What was his?

    "Fine. Ok. What I'm about to tell you is Top Secret, ok?" he asked.

    "My lips are sealed," she promised, crossing her heart. "Now, spill."

    Hawkins tried to remain in control, but it was hard. "I slept with your CSO."

    "OH MY GOD!" Kendra cried as her jaw hit the floor. "On the station?"

    "Shhhh!!!" he hissed. "Keep that to yourself."

    She was absolutely speechless. Well, almost. Kendra grabbed his wrist and started pulling him towards the office they shared. "Hey, Science guy, Mr. Longsmith. You have the bridge."

    "Oh great." Laz muttered. From the look that Taggert shot him, he leaned over and whispered. "The only time I sat in the center chair the ship blew up. Bad Karma."

    "Good God." Hawkins muttered. The way she was yanking him to their office made them seem like two little teenagers sharing secrets.

    As soon as the door closed, Kendra stared at him. "You slept with her?"

    "Yes I did. And I'm not too proud of it either."

    "Why are you so upset though? I mean, it was an accident, yes, but you act like someone died...."

    Hawkins stared her down. "It was wrong and against my moral values. I only sleep with people I care for. I hardly know this woman."

    Kendra got really quiet and sat on the edge of her desk, her arms crossed. "What are you gonna do?"

    "I don't know." he replied. "I'm trying to avoid her, but she keeps on trying to seduce me."

    Kendra bit her lip to keep from laughing. Somehow, the idea of that very feminine looking young lady attempting to seduce big, bad, burly Hawkins made her want to giggle. "Need her to stay away from you?"

    "THAT'S the biggest problem. I don't want to seem like I'm a wimp. You know, that I can't handle a woman on my own."

    "I can talk to her if you want. Explain that she needs to lay off before it looks like harassment," she said. Dear God, it was hard to keep a straight face.

    He shook his head. "No I'll handle it."

    "Okay," she said. "Hawkins?"

    "What?"

    "Does anyone else know?"

    He shook his head. "No and I plan on keeping it that way. Got me?"

    Kendra nodded. "I won't breathe a word," she promised, holding her hand up in the air to swear to him. "I just might snicker behind your back..."

    "I'm not above knocking you out, Summers." he replied. "It wasn't a good experience."

    "Oh, come on, Curt," she said. "Morals aside, you have to admit it's rather amusing. It's almost as entertaining as...well, hell, me and Taylor."

    "I am nothing like you two." he said seriously. "You two lack respect. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to meet the grunts." He got up and headed to the doors. "But at least you two are happy. And that makes me happy."




    Karrie sat at the helm of the small ship, sulking. "Damn Federation...." Her hands moved across the panel, setting a course in the last known direction of the fugitive Andorian. "Stupid thing was ours..."

    Richard Ginelli remained in a slouching position in his chair and kept his feet up on the console. He glanced sideways at his partner and wondered how she could remain so mad at something that happened less then 72 hours ago. "We're hot on his trail now, Conway. Besides, why are you so angry?"

    She simply looked up and set her gaze level on him. "Why am I mad? Because we just had something worth 80,000 bars of gold pressed latinum sitting in our brig and those Starfleet fools just let him go, that's why!"

    "They didn't actually let him go." he replied.

    "Okay, fine. You're right. They didn't 'let' him go." she agreed as she rolled her eyes. "They let him escape."

    Ginelli remained quiet. In the few years he had known her, he always found it best to remain silent while she vented her frustration.

    "They healed his wounds and then he overtook their one lousy guard they had in the brig. What kind of people would only have one guy in the brig, anyway? On a ship that damn big... The Sarnath should have had a hell of a lot more guards in their brig. And then he stole a shuttle and got away! And now, because our own ship was trashed, that piece of crap has a two day head start on us!" Karrie turned in her seat and crossed her arms. "I'm grumpy."

    "No, you're being irrational." he said. "Just try and calm down."

    "How am I supposed to calm down?"

    He grinned. "We could always go to the bunk."

    "Nah, not in the mood for that right now," she told him.

    He shrugged. "Maybe later then." Ginelli and Conway had a weird relationship. They were partners in their profession, and best friends. But when the 'need' arose, they set their friendship aside and 'helped' each other out.

    "Maybe," she agreed. "Help me catch this son of a bitch and we'll celebrate..." she added coyly.

    Richie sat up and increased the speed of the ship.

    Karrie grinned as he jumped into action. "Someone feeling frustrated?"

    "Just a little. It's been a few days since...you know." He said quietly and sat back once again. "Besides, I too feel that we were robbed by those feddies."

    "See, this is how we deal with our anger. I get pissed, you get excited."

    "Ain't life grand?"

    "Oh yeah. I've always loved how life comes back and kicks you in the ass when you've turned around," she told him drily.

    He chuckled softly. "The one thing that-" He was cut off by their proximity alarm and he quickly flew his fingers across his console. "I'm detecting something..."

    Karrie's ears perked up. "What? What is it?"

    "I dunno, but whatever it is, it's big."

    "Damn. Too big for the shuttle the Andorian's in," she said. "Ship?"

    He nodded in reply and continued to scan the ship's sensors for answers.

    "Hmmmm...." she said thoughtfully. "Breen? We're kinda close to their space. Lemme tell ya, I know I don't wanna run into them..."

    "It's a feddie. Terran, Intrepid class, stealthed all to hell."

    "Starfleet? What the hell are they doing all the way out here?" Karrie said, suddenly feeling her anger begin to boil again. If their own ship had been bigger, she would have picked a fight. But, as it was, they would be blown out of the universe if they tried.

    Ginelli looked at her. "I don't know, but a stealth feddie ship can never be good. Definitely a deep cover ship, or recon. Whatever it is, I'm not looking forward to meeting them."
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    #21
    Chapter 19 - Appointment

    Shea walked into her office and dropped down into her chair and hit the com unit on her desk, "Lt. Shea to Counselor Taggart, I'd like to schedule an appointment with you." She still wasn't sure exactly why she was doing this.

    Jade had decided to head for her office, she was standing in the turbolift when Shea's call had come across her badge. She tapped it...

    "I'm available now Lt, if you're free?."

    "I can meet you in your office in ten minutes, will that work for you?" She responded.

    "That's fine. I'm making my way there now."

    Quickly, before she shut the com Shea asked, "Counselor, this will be confidential won't it? I don't want anyone knowing that I'm coming to see you."

    "It's totally confidential Lt."

    Shea nodded to herself, "Good, in ten minutes."

    "Ten minutes" Jade replied.

    A few moments later the turbolift doors opened, Jade stepped out and made her way to her office. Arriving she moved the last of her boxes to a corner out of the way and waited for Shea's arrival.

    Shea shuffled her feet a bit, then finally left her office and made her way to the counseling offices. She arrived in the waiting area right outside the new counselors office and left out a deep breath, glad that no one else was waiting for the woman. If it got out to her squad or the other marines, she'd be the laughing stock. As it was, she made her promise to Molly and regardless of how hurt she was by the woman at the moment, she wouldn't go back on that promise. She stepped to the door chime and pressed, waiting for the door to open.

    "Come in Lt." she smiled. "I can sense you're nervous at being here, believe me I don't bite!."

    With a wry grin Shea responded, "Trust me Counselor, I'm not concerned about you biting me, I'm concerned that this will shoot my reputation all to hell." Shea studied the other woman and there was a twinge of recognition there. Molly did say that the woman was Betazoid, surely you couldn't just detect your own kind, could you?

    "You're Betazoid?" Jade looked at Shea curiously.

    Well that answered Shea's question, "Unfortunately for me yes. Thankfully just a tiny part." Shea tried to keep the bitterness she felt for her absent mother out of her voice, still not used to being around telepaths.

    "I'm half Betazoid and half Drax, both telepathic species as well as the usual Betazoid empathic abilities." Jade sensed a certain upheaval in Shea's emotions when she mentioned abilities. "Are you having problems with your abilities?."

    With a laugh Shea nodded, "No, I have no abilities, but they seem to be having problems with me...so therefore they give me horrible headaches."

    "Why don't you sit down." she motioned for Shea to take a seat.

    Shea looked over at the couch and the chair and chose the chair, sitting in not a very relaxed posture. "I've been getting really bad headaches for about two years now. They are really bad when I'm stressed I guess. They do nothing to improve my already sunny disposition." She said with a smirk.

    "Believe me I understand" she smiled. "Having abilities, Betazoid or other is hard on the body."

    Sighing, "I found out just a couple months ago that I had Betazoid in me. I thought all my life that I was Bajoran and Terran. So my gir....Doctor Patamon thought it would be best to talk with you, since your a counselor and a Betazoid."

    "I'm glad she advised it." Jade sat back in her seat.

    "You do realize that this is highly abnormal for me be here, but I guess the stress of my headaches is effecting my other relationship." Shea said in a frustrated tone. Why had she been so stupid to just blurt out to Molly that she wanted to make things permanent? Things had been going great and she went and screwed it up.

    "If I'm to help you then the first thing we need to do is teach you how to control your abilities. If you don't learn to control your empathic senses then chances are you'll suffer more and more especially during times of stress for the crew."

    Shea raised a dark brow, "You mean the crew is what is giving me the headaches? Is there something I can do?" she asked.

    "We'll sort that out first and then, if you trust me, maybe I'll be able to help you sort out your relationship too." she smiled.

    Shea gave the counselor a shocked expression, "Ho..how did you know about that?"

    "I do read personnel records" she smiled, "besides when you come aboard a new ship it's a good idea to keep your ears open for bits of information. If I may ask, what is it that's affecting your relationship?."

    Shea looked down and sighed, "She doesn't want to marry me. Prophets I'm so stupid sometimes, I should never have asked this soon."

    "Give her time to think about it." she smiled. "if things don't improve and she's willing come back and see me... right now we need to concentrate on you abilities."

    Nodding Shea was resigned, "Okay so what do I do?"

    "What you need to learn is how to shield your mind from what other people are feeling. All Betazoids have to learn, I'll admit I've never tried teaching anyone before but I can try."

    Shea looked rather confused, "I thought Betazoids used their abilities so that they could sense feelings and such, you make it sounds like I need to shut myself off like a Vulcan."

    "Take this" she turned round to the box behind her seat picking up a padd and handing it to Shea. "Everything you need to know and study is on the padd. What I need you to do for me right now is to try and develop your shields."

    Shea was hesitant, "I guess I can try that. I've never been that great at concentrating, so I'm not sure how this will go."

    "Think of it as shields for the mind, you have to learn to raise those shields to block emotions. If you want to develop and use your abilities then you need to develop those shields."

    Leaning back in the chair she is sitting in, Shea thought that over, "I'm not sure I understand completely."

    "It's hard to explain... if it would make it easier you could learn it telepathically. You're part Betazoid, that means I can link with you telepathically... the decision is yours."

    Shea bite her lip, "Uh, what would that entail? Would you know all my thoughts? What about your Borg parts? I don't want my mind taken over!" The questions and statements flew from Shea's mouth.

    "Normally with someone who's an experienced telepath a link would only reveal what you wanted someone to know but as you're not experienced I may learn more about you than you'd like me to know.... you'd also learn about me. As for my Borg implants they shouldn't harm you."

    Not all the type of person that liked rolling the dice, Shea responded, "Shouldn't harm me? Look, no offense, but I'm not sure I'm ready for this right now."

    "Maybe it was a bit of an ambitous idea" she smiled. "I think it would probably be better if I sent it to you rather than doing a two way link."

    Shea thought that over, "So I really wouldn't have to do much right now. That might work. So tell me what I need to do." she responded.

    "Okay what I need you to do is relax, I'm not going to poke around in your mind simply send you what I've learned."

    Linking with Shea's mind, Jade did her best to relay the teachings she'd once learned.

    There was a slight tingle in the back of her brain, something she couldn't quite make out, but she knew it was there. It was almost like being tugged in one direction purely by instinct, but this time it felt more defined. After a few seconds of the link Shea felt a warmth invade her body and she relaxed considerably.

    "Okay all done" she smiled as she broke the link. "It may be a little foggy for a while and you may not understand it but your mind will sort it out in time."

    Blinking her grin eyes, Shea felt as if she just woke up after a really long, relaxing nap. "Whoa, that was weird."

    "So for now, read and learn from that padd... any problems come back and see me."

    Taking a few seconds to get her bearings, Shea finally stood and nodded, "I'm sure I'll be back, but again, this little session stays between us." She said meaning it a little as a warning and a promise that if it leaked, the counselor would not be a happy camper. Nodding once more to the woman, Shea made her way out of the office, still feeling rather disoriented and made her way back to her office in her squads barracks.
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    #22
    Chapter 20 - Pursued

    Kendra was back in her office, attempting not to fall asleep at her desk. Dear God, was she bored.

    =/ Skyler to Commander Summers. \=

    Kendra perked up and slapped her badge. "Summers here. Go ahead. \=

    =/ We're picking up a small ship on sensors. It's a Starfleet shuttle, but there's not meant to be Starfleet vessels anywhere near this part of space, except for us. \=

    That was odd. "Okay, I'm coming out." Kendra cut the comm and made her way out to the bridge. Finally, something was going on.

    "So what's the deal on this shuttle?" Kendra asked of no one in particular as she strolled onto the bridge.

    Sgt. Keith Bednash turned his attention to Commander Summers as she entered the bridge. "Communications reports that an Andorian is seeking asylum from
    parties unknown."

    She looked at him in confusion. "Andorian? So we know what ship the shuttle originated from?"

    "Not exactly." he replied. "The craft is a Danube class, so we do know that he must've acquired it from the black market. From what comm reports, he is not willing to discuss his background, but only wants help. In my opinion, he might be an asset. Considering he bought a Federation vessel and he was found in the Gornian sector."

    "Sounds like it. Well, let's see if we can get a hold of him." Kendra said.

    He nodded and signaled the comm tech. "Open a channel."

    "Helm, take us in a little closer." she said to Ivy.

    "Aye Commander, adjusting course to intercept." Ivy replied, secretly glad that the boredom was over.

    Kendra nodded. "Federation shuttle, do you require assistance?"

    A low voice came over the speakers. "Yes, yes I do. I seek asylum."

    "Asylum? Asylum from what?"

    "I am being pursued by some very nasty individuals and I need a place to stay. If they catch me, they will surely kill me," he said urgently. There was a pause. "I cannot see you on my sensors. Are you cloaked?"

    Kendra motioned to the comm. tech to cut the transmission. "Taggert, what are getting from him? Is he genuine?"

    Jade concentrated for a moment, "I don't know Commander, I'm reading a lot of fear."

    The commander nodded. "Me too. He is afraid of something, but I don't know what."

    "Granting his wishes could bring us valuable information, Commander," Bednash said.

    "Well, asylum could be good. Either he can help us out or, if we don't like what he's involved in, we can toss him in the brig," Kendra reasoned.

    "Sounds like a plan to me." he replied. "Want me to arrange for him to dock?"

    "Sounds good to me."

    Bednash hit his communicator. "Bednash to Lieutenant Shea. We're about to receive a visitor. Think you could take a few men from Beta and go to docking bay 1 and escort our Andorian friend to the bridge? Make sure he is unarmed."

    Kendra turned to Bednash and raised an eyebrow. "A bunch of marines? Don't you think that's a bit extreme?"

    "Hell yeah." he replied. "I never liked those blue bastards and I never will. I think a few grunts is just right for an escort of that type of alien."

    She shrugged. Whatever.

    ***

    "Oh, hell no," Karrie 'Radar' Conway bit vehemently.

    "What?" he asked. "What is it?"

    She turned towards Ginelli, clearly pissed off. "They're taking the Andorian aboard their ship."

    He sat back a little, but he still continued the conversation. "Why is that, Kar'."

    "I don't know why. They just are," she told him. "Did you happen to pick up any of their communications?"

    "Nope. Seems they are running on top secret comm channels."

    That drew Karrie's attention. "Top secret?" she repeated in disbelief. "What the hell kind of ship is that?"

    **Back on the Apocalypse**

    "Seems we're picking up another vessel, this one has a stealth profile." Bednash said.

    "What?" Kendra said as she spun around and headed towards him. "Where?"

    "I don't know." he replied. "But I think we should hail them. Might avoid an unnecessary conflict."

    "Agreed. Open a channel."

    **SS. Conquest**

    Ginelli looked up ay Conway. "We're being hailed."

    "Oh really?" she said. "But we're stealthed all to hell."

    "Don't forget what I said about them being on top secret frequencies."

    "Good point," she replied with a shrug. "Let's hear what they have to say."

    Ginelli leaned forward and clicked on the communications button. "Live and on the air."

    The tiny cabin was flooded with the sound of Kendra's voice. "Unidentified stealth ship, please identify yourself."

    Karrie tossed a glance at Ginelli. "Ohhhh..... She sounds authoritative."

    "My type of woman." he muttered and prepared the ship for war. "Open a channel."

    Karrie narrowed her eyes slightly at him. His type of woman. God, he had a one track mind. Her hands moved over the controls. "Channel open."

    "This is Sergeant First Class, Richard Ginelli. Former Federation Green Beret. We are currently in the search of a renegade Andorian assassin. Have you seen such a being?"

    **Apocalypse**

    "Holy crap, a Green Beret." Bednash said with pride in his voice. "This man is one of the real deals."

    "But he's a former Green Beret..." Kendra said thoughtfully. "Run a check on his name. See exactly who we're dealing with."

    "Gotcha." Bednash said as he began his duty.

    "Please answer my question, ma'am. Have you an Andorian on board?" Ginelli asked again over the comlink.

    Kendra spoke up and reopened the comm. "We have, but that's not quite the story he's telling us. Our Andorian friend seems to think that you are the assassins..."

    There was a feminine laugh over the comm. "Oh, has he been talking about us behind our backs? Now, that's not very nice..."

    An audible sigh could be heard from Ginelli. "We request that you return him to us."

    "Well," Kendra explained. "That might be kind of hard. You see, he's requested asylum."

    "I would not allow that if I where you, Commander." he said. "That Andorian is wanted on numerous worlds and we are bringing him to justice."

    "You are bounty hunters, then? What has he done?" Kendra asked, tossing a glance at Bednash.

    "Yes ma'am." he said. "We are bounty hunters. But we prefer the term Regulators. He has murdered a Federation Diplomat's daughter and we are searching for him to bring him to justice."

    Kendra paused for a moment. Seems that she had given him asylum too soon. "I see. And all you want him for is to bring him to justice, huh?"

    The woman's voice popped up again. "Yes, that's all we want him for. He deserves to have his ass kicked, but we promise that we'll play nice."

    "Okay, well, how about I make you deal?" Kendra said. "You see, I don't like dealing with people I can't see face to face. How about you two dock with us, we hold
    our Andorian buddy here, and we discuss our dilemma in person?"

    A whispering Ginelli could be heard over the comlink. But to Conway, it was coming in all clear. "I don't know about that. No weapons on a Federation starship? I don't think so."

    "Uhm, can we talk this over for a minute?" the woman piped up.

    "By all means," Summers said with a smile as the comm cut. "They might be of use to us as well. Someone check out the stats on this Andorian. Should we put him in the brig or give him some guest quarters?"

    **SS Conquest**

    "Are you nuts? The Independence did the same thing and look what happened. Hello?" Karrie spat at Ginelli.

    "But it might be different this time around." he said. "They seem to be pretty quiet. Like a recon vessel. Might not even be concerned with us."

    "I don't trust them. I don't trust anyone except you and right now I think you're losing your mind. We're not exactly on the up and up with the Federation ourselves, remember? Especially you! Don't you think that as soon as we step foot on that ship that they're going to throw us in the brig? Then you go to Auckland, I go God knows where, and the Andorian goes to jail for free. Hell no."

    "Awww, you poor baby. What do we really have to lose? We both have weapons on us that we could easily get out of a situation with."

    "Yes, but what if we need to escape that situation quickly? As in, get the hell out of there?"

    He smiled. "Just keep the engine running."

    "Yeah?" she said, almost as if she were sulking. "What if they insist that we turn off the ship and can't even activate it with the remote we've got?"

    "Damn girl , you are paranoid. Need to learn to relax."

    "I will relax when I have my money," she told him emphatically.

    "You damn bounty hunter." he muttered. "Scum of the Earth. Worse then lawyers."

    "Our docking bay is ready when you are," Kendra's voice told them over the comm. The connection was severed.

    "I still don't like this crap." Karrie told him, very obviously sulking at this point.

    "Don't have to like it. You just have to deal with it." he replied and turned his attention to the Federation ship. "We're docking now. Keep all areas clear. Conquest out."
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    #23
     –  Last edited by WelshAvenger; 2 Weeks Ago.
    Chapter 21 - Homecoming

    Christopher's hands smoothly worked the controls of the shuttle despite his fatigue.

    The work for S31 medical had been demanding but worthwhile. "Computer, begin personal log. After two days cooped up with a bunch of scientists, I'm finally returning home to the Apocalypse. While I was working on the Starbase, I managed to call in a favour and get a message from Alyssa Ogawa, my chief nurse's sister. Hopefully, this will cheer Amanda up. As for me, I'm very tired and looking forward to seeing the ship again. Hell, I'm even looking forward to seeing the Major. Starbase scientists have no sense of banter, they just agree or disagree. Personally, I like a good argument every now and then, even if I'm wrong. On a slightly more professional note, I'm carrying all the latest medical and tactical journals and have spent the last two days committing them to memory. Hopefully this will put me in a better position to serve the ship."

    Bringing the shuttlecraft to a stop, he punched in the frequency codes and sent out a hail.

    Moments later, the commander's face appeared on the viewscreen.

    =/ Well, well, well. The wanderer returns. How you doing Doc? \= Kendra said with a smile.

    "I'm tired, hungry and feel like hell," Christopher sighed, "I prescribe several hours sleep followed by an intense course of ham and eggs."

    =/ Sounds good to me. Our ETA is six minutes. \=

    "That's good to hear Kendra. Believe it or not, I was starting to miss all the excitement."

    =/ You mean all the changeling plots, S31 backstabs and generally being threatened by anyone with a photon torpedo launcher? \=

    "I knew there was a reason you're in charge of a couple hundred thousand tonnes of metal. With tact like that, you'd make a lousy ambassador." He laughed.

    =/ And for that I am very grateful. See you in a minute \=

    "Understood, Cushing out."

    Christopher deactivated the comm array and sat back to watch the stars, noticing for the first time in ages how they shone against the darkness. Then she appeared in a burst of rainbow light, streaking into existence right in front of his shuttle. The Apocalypse. His ship. His friends. His family.

    Putting the shuttle onto auto dock, Christopher smiled. It was good to be home.




    Christopher stowed his gear and wearily made his way to the bridge after dropping off the message for Amanda. It was time to be briefed on the current mission and debriefed about his little lab mission. The turbolift doors hissed open onto the bridge and, to his surprise, he saw a fully manned bridge. He quickly noticed that everyone seemed to have something to do except Jade. He wandered around and sat in the XO chair. "Hi there, how have things been?"

    "Not too bad" she smiled. "How were things at Starfleet?."

    "Well you know, the usual. Obssessed scientists crouching over equipment keeping to themselves. It was pure hell. No-one wanted to have fun. I almost cried for joy when a security guard cracked a joke." Christopher explained.

    "That good huh?" she grinned before looking around. "can I talk to you in private for a moment?."

    Christopher looked perplexed for a moment, "Sure, there's even a rumour that there's meant to be an XO's office around here somewhere. Let's go see if it's true."

    Jade followed, once they were alone she explained. "I had my first patient today, or at least what I thought was my first patient."

    "Was someone playing a prank on you?" Christopher asked, "If so I'll kick thei..."

    "Turns out it was a loyalty test..." she shook her head. "I did my usual calm the nerves routine of telling a little about me, I like my patients to feel a ease... my patient got miraculously better, thanked me for my time and explained he was just doing his job!"

    "Sounds suspicious. Any ideas why they did it?"

    "I can understand why... I guess. Ex borg and all that but it still... hurt." she looked at the floor and sighed. "Guess I'll just have to show them I can be trusted."

    "Wait a moment, what about them showing you a little consideration? Starfleet picked you, which means you have their trust, which is good enough for me. I've never heard of anyone that came back from the borg going bad. Seven of nine, Terry and Jean Luc Picard to name a few all became invaluable. Could it be something else?"

    "I don't have the full range of emotions.. I never will. There's a fail safe programme of sorts that affects all Borg, if you get past a certain stage of emotion awareness it shuts down your cortical node. The Drax were able to adjust it slightly with their knowledge to allow me as far as I am now... I'm more or less borderline. One reason why I get my headaches."

    Christopher merely nodded. The sinister ways the Borg used to stifle individuality never surprised him. "That's got to be very awkward."

    "Oh I'm awkward alright" she smiled. "don't worry Cmdr, the Drax implanted me with a fail safe of their own... if I get too close node shutdown I pass out first. Saves any damage occuring... I can't see Starfleet shipping out a ship to find a borg cube so as I can have a new cortical node from a live drone somehow!."

    Jade looked at Christopher seeing the look on his face at that idea... doing her best not to grin and trying to stifle a laugh, before finally bursting out laughing.

    Christopher smiled, "Have you talked to Engineering? Maybe they can come up with something to help. I can research neural implants to see if it's possible to modify an existing implant to allow you access to other emotions. Maybe we could look at Lt Cmdr Data's files to see if that emotion chip he has could be modified."

    "To be honest I can't see the Borg making implants that can tampered with. The emotion chip would be one idea but it's still emotion.... I can laugh, smile, feel in general but as far as crying or even love.." she shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know what would happen. Maybe I'd get lucky, I don't know, the Drax were hopeful but even they couldn't say." she smiled. "Enough about Borg!, I had an interesting chat with Laz Longsmith... he fascinates me, I can't sense anything from him!."

    Christopher blinked, "Well that's new. There's nothing in his medical files to suggest he's psychic. Maybe he's part vulcan." He said with a smile.

    "Makes a change" she tilted her head curiously. "It's different to be around someone I can't sense, spooky but different."

    "Sounds like a challenge. Maybe something will turn up in his physical." Offered Christopher.

    "So is there anything you want to ask?, my being a new officer aboard and all. Anything you need to know?."

    Christopher leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on the desk, "Well, I haven't had a chance to review all of the new crew member files yet, but how the hell did you end up here? For the most part we're last chancers or criminals with skills that S31 feels they need. You've probably read my file but I poisoned an entire Cardassian planet to rescue a few Federation prisoners. I figure that you can't have done something that bad." A look crossed his face, "You know, you don't have to tell me anything you don't want to, this certainly isn't on the record. Just figured I'd find out why Starfleet thinks you're a bad girl."

    "Well it hasn't been unknown for me to have run in's with my CO's." she smiled a little. "I have a habit of speaking my mind, the borg in me I think... if there's something I don't like then I voice my opinion."

    "That's all part of the command thing, there's nothing wrong with that. What did you do?"

    "I came perilously close to mutiny once, i tried playing off the XO against the CO.... stood nose to nose with the CO and spouted a few words I shouldn't have." she shrugged her shoulders, "I thought perhaps I'd gotten away with it but looks like I didn't."

    "So why did you choose to take this assignment. Surely another ship would.." Christopher began.

    "No other Starfleet Captain would want a crew member like that. They keep me around because I'm the only Drax in the Federation, keeps the door open to relations with Drax."

    "What's it like?"

    "Drax?.... it's kind of like Betazed to look at, a planet of telepaths. The Drax have superior medical knowledge, hence the lack of remaining implants, they also have a special assistance/special forces bureau of which I'm trained."

    Christopher laughed, "A counsellor that can kick ass, I like that idea. Well I had better go brief the commander, otherwise I'll be in more trouble than I already am. Want me to speak to the captains about the loyalty test thing? I can assure you that there'll be no recrimination against you."

    "No that's okay" she smiled. "If I run to Command every time I have a problem I'll never get and respect!"

    "Okay if you're sure." He said standing up, "If there's ever anything else. . ."

    "Thank you" she stood to leave with him. "Thanks for the chat."

    "Sure, anytime." Christopher watched Jade head back to the command chairs and headed for Kendra's ready room.
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    #24
    Chapter 22 - Security

    =/ Summers to Skyler. \=

    Azura raised her head and let out a small sigh. Always interrupted. She would be glad when they got an honest to God Chief of Security. Maybe then she wouldn't get called to duty so much. And then she had to snicker. Yeah, right. =/ Skyler here. Go ahead. \=

    =/ We're about to receive a couple of guests. Two bounty hunters. \=

    Azura wrinkled her brow. =/ Bounty hunters? Did I miss something, ma'am? \=

    =/ No, not yet. Could you please meet them in the docking bay and bring them up to the conference lounge? Seems to me that things are about to get entertaining. \=

    =/ Will do. Skyler out. \= She crawled up from the floor and brushed herself off. Guess her rearranging of furniture would have to wait. She headed out to the turbolift and hit the button. The doors opened and revealed a muscular man already in the lift. He was a marine. She nodded and stepped in. "Docking bay," she called out.

    "Lieutenant." Taylor muttered.

    Azura tossed him a sideways glance. "Sergeant Taylor," she said in acknowledgement.

    He nodded his head in appreciation to her memory of personnel files. "Azura Skyler, I presume. What is it that you do again?"

    "I'm in charge of security. It's my job to know who's on the ship."

    He couldn't help but to chuckle. "Like our Major?"

    That caught her attention. "What do you mean by that?"

    He sideward glanced at her and shook his head. "Don't act too surprised, we keep tabs on our people."

    "I see," she said. "And how exactly close are these tabs?"

    "I can see why you make the Major twitchy."

    "That close, huh?" Azura said sarcastically. Then she grinned. "So I make him twitchy?"

    He nodded. "An attractive and forceful female will do that to a man."

    "I understand you've been kinda twitchy yourself, lately..."

    Taylor glanced at the woman. "How so?"

    She shrugged. "Quite a little scene with you and the Commander back on the station..."

    Now he laughed. "Old news, Lieutenant. What you observed was one of the Commander and myself's happy hour. You should be around for the whole deal. But that's besides the point. The real point is about you all over our Major. Seems you can't take no for an answer."

    "Sometimes you just can't take no for an answer," she told him simply. "Persistence pays off."

    "You do know that that can be construed as harassment. Sexual harassment." he said.

    "What for? We live on this ship like it's a small community. Relationships happen. Fights happen. Life happens. We were both off duty when this started and we've both been off duty whenever I've approached him. It's more of a personal matter."

    "Personal matter nothing, Lieutenant." he said seriously. "The man is having a rough time dealing with the situation you two have. And I also think that you are emotionally unstable for my CO and my friend. Hell, what kind of woman just jumps in the bed of another man after her husband dies? I don't know about you, but I would stay celibate after my future wife dies."

    Now she turned to face him, her eyes narrowed. "You really have been doing your homework, haven't you?"

    He nodded. "Yes ma'am. I was part of Force Recon for a number of years. Information was our top priority."

    "I was sixteen when I married. I was young and stupid and it was during a wartime situation. You, as a marine, should know that during wartime emotions can run high and lead you to believe that they are stronger than they really are. And when you aren't expected to live past the age of twenty, you really do tend to do things young and in the heat of the moment."

    "But getting married?" he asked. "I can understand if a person turns on his chain of command, or if somebody goes section 8 during battle, but marrying somebody? That's a big step."

    "My God, you're dense," she muttered. "I'm saying that I cared for my husband a great deal. At the time. I thought a piece of me died with him when he was murdered. But, over the years, I've come to realize that while I cared for him, it wasn't love. We never would have lasted and I realize that now."

    "That is certainly understandable. But let it be known, Lieutenant. I'll be watching you like a hawk."

    She shrugged. "Go for it."

    The lift stopped and they exited in docking bay 2. The bounty hunter ship hadn't arrived yet, so Taylor took a seat on some titanium cargo boxes. "He's not completely over his last love yet. So be careful about how you treat him. He is still fragile when it comes to the passion department."

    An evil grin came to her lips. "I dunno... He didn't seem broken..."

    That remark bought her a glare from him. He didn't have time to be dealing with smartasses. "I'm talking about him being broken emotionally. He was engaged to the woman and the federation held them apart. Now that he's deep cover, they can no longer see each other again. That type of ♥♥♥♥ isn't something to joke about."

    She raised her hands in a truce. "Sorry," she said. "I really do like him, ya know. I understand that you're just trying to protect him and stuff, but I wouldn't hurt him."

    "Yeah, that's really convincing."

    "You don't know. You don't have reason to trust me whatsoever. You'll just have to take my word for it," she simply told him.

    "Like I said, Lieutenant. I'll be watching you like a hawk." he replied. "One wrong move and you'll just disappear."

    Azura looked at him in amusement. "Why, Sergeant, are you threatening me?"

    Taylor sneered. "Not a threat, it's a promise."

    "Ohhh...." she said in a sarcastic fear. "Well, that's nice. But do keep in mind that I wasn't always just a security officer serving on a starship. I do have a few favors to call in if I ever feel it necessary. And, believe me, they would love to get their hands on an arrogant jarhead like you."

    "Now you hear me. I don't give a rat's ass who you are, but if you-"

    "Bounty Hunter ship preparing to dock!" yelled the docking chief.

    Taylor fixed his gaze on Skyler for a moment longer, then turned his attention to the forcefeild and the approaching ship. "Just treat him good and you won't have any problems from me."

    "Believe me, I plan to treat him like he's never been treated before," she told him. "Now, let's get these people up to meet the Commander."




    Hawkins hit his communicator. "Hawkins to Lieutenant Shea. We're about to receive a visitor. Think you could take a few men from Beta and go to docking bay 1 and escort our Andorian friend to the bridge? Make sure he is unarmed."

    Kendra turned to Hawkins and raised an eyebrow. "A bunch of marines? Don't you think that's a bit extreme?"

    "Hell yeah." he replied. "I never liked those blue bastards and I never will. I think a few grunts is just right for an escort of that type of alien."

    She shrugged. Whatever.




    Christopher stood outside the commander's ready room and pressed the chime.

    "Come on in." Kendra said and the door hissed open, she gestured to the seat in front of her.

    Christopher walked in and sat down opposite the commander, "Thanks, it's good to be back on board."

    "It's good to have you back," she said warmly. "So, how was it?"

    "Well, mainly it involved terribly dull scientists and Medical brass looking over my shoulder. But we got the antigen created with the minimum of fuss. So hopefully no-one will have to go through that again. The official report will be out at the same time as the medical paper reaches the rest of the fleet, but my report is right here. I'm afraid it doesn't paint a very good picture of Starfleet science division. I was very annoyed when I wrote it because no-one has a sense of humour." Christopher explained.

    "Sounds perfectly boring. But I must say that we missed your sense of humor around here. Those people just didn't know what a true gem they had on their hands."

    "Well, that nice of you to say. So what's going on here then, anything exciting to report about our lizardy type friends?" he asked.

    She shrugged. "Honestly, no. We don't have any info on them as of yet. No activity, no communiqués, no nothing. But we do have ourselves a little situation, though. Seems an Andorian and a couple of bounty hunters are lurking around out here. So we're in the middle of that right now."

    "Any ideas what they're doing all the way out here?" he asked.

    "I dunno. That's what I'm hoping that we'll find out. They're all coming onboard and we're gonna have a powwow." Kendra grinned mischievously. "You came back just in time, my friend."

    Christopher returned her grin, "I'm not one to miss out on an adventure. You know we could always just toss them in the brig, quarantine them and perform experiments on them for the rest of their lives but I doubt that will solve anything. Might get some good results from the experiments though."

    Kendra shrugged. "Hey, I haven't completely ruled that out, yet. They piss me off and it's down to the dungeon--er, brig they go!"

    Christopher laughed out loud, "I'll keep that in mind."

    =/ Docking bay to Summers, the shuttle is aboard \=

    "Thanks. Make sure our guests are escorted up here. Summers out." Kendra cut the comm. and looked back to Christopher. "It's party time."

    Rising from his seat, Christopher said, "Would you like me to come with you? The sight of a doctor normally makes people nervous. If I start running a tricorder over them and looking troubled, it might just put them off guard."

    Kendra grinned. "You know, it might not be a bad idea to run some scan on them. Seriously. They aren't coming through the transporters so they could have something that we aren't aware of. Something tells me that bounty hunters and Andorian fugitives might not give a damn about trivial stuff like the plague."

    "I always thought I should have been in a holodrama, it runs in the family you know. You should hear my maniacal evil laugh." He joked. "Hmm, maybe I should use it on the bounty hunters and the Andorian."

    "Perhaps. They could be jumpy though. And if you scare me with the maniacal laughter, then I might let them have ya."

    Christopher laughed, "Just what I always wanted, to be handed over to a bunch of bloodthirsty, plague ridden bounty hunters. They may even let me sign on with them. Ahh, it's the pirate life for me!"

    "We just missed you oh so much, Doc," Kendra smiled sweetly as they headed out the door.

    Christopher grabbed a medical tricorder from the emergency med kit on the bridge and started to practice his laugh, drawing strange looks from the rest of the bridge crew, "Mwahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."




    Bat'chu opened the hatch up his small shuttle and slowly poked his head out. He came face to face with 18 heavily-armed marines. He raised his hands and muttered. "I surrender."

    Shea stood at the front of her squad, her rifle trained on the visitor. "Climb down slowly, keep your hands in sight."

    Bat'chu placed his hands slowly on his head and followed the Marine woman's direction. Bounty hunters were one thing, but Federation Marines were a complete different thing. "Yes ma'am."

    Shea then motioned to Corporal Alexander and Private Roth to flank the Andorian. She lowered her rifle a bit and lifted a brow, "I don't expect any problems while you're aboard, understand."

    The Andorian crossed his heart. "You won't hear a peep out of me. I promise you that."

    Taking a step back she let her two grunts lead Bat'chu out of the shuttle bay. Following behind she kept a finger near the trigger of her rifle. Shea dismissed the rest of her squad and stepped into the turbo lift, and called for the bridge.

    "So tell me, marine woman, will your Commanding Officer grant me asylum?"

    Shea didn't like especially being called marine woman, but she reigned in her temper for a few seconds, "Well my CO is a softy. It's the Commander you'll have to worry about. She's a little nuts."

    "I don't understand."

    Shea rolled her eyes, were Andorians really this dumb, " This ship has two CO's, Co-CO's if you will."

    "Two CO's?" he asked. "I see. Very strange, but I figure most of you humans are a bit off."

    Lifting a dark brow Shea responded, "I'm only a quarter human, I consider myself Bajoran." sighing she added, "and there is a quarter Betazoid."

    "I'm sorry." he said. "I didn't know you were Bajoran as well. Betazoids look identical to humans."

    Getting tired of dealing with this guest already she said, "Yes well, looks are often deceiving, keep that in mind while you're on this ship, understand." It wasn't exactly a threat, but was damn near close.

    "Understood, female."

    The turbo lift finally opened to the bridge and Shea motioned with her chin for the Andorian to step out. Her two marines stepped out right behind him. Shea lowered her rifle once again and stepped in front of the Andorian, "Commander, Major... our guest, safe and sound." she said rather shocked that he was there in one piece herself.

    Hawkins turned his attention to the turbolift opening and Shea and the Andorian walking out. "So tell me something, Summers." he said loudly. "This attenahead wants asylum?"

    "Yup," she told him as she strolled over where Hawkins and the Andorian now stood.

    "Sir, there is no need for insulting remarks. I come in peace." said Bat'chu.

    Hawkins glared at the alien. "And you'll go in pieces if you talk to me again. I hate your species."

    "I'm sorry about the Major here. He's a bit cranky. But he generally is anyway, so don't take it personally," Kendra explained to the Andorian.

    Bat'chu turned back to Shea. "I thought you said he was the softy..."

    Before Shea could answer, Kendra piped up again. "Oh, he is the softy. Big, ol' grumpy teddy bear. And you caught him on a good day, too. You should feel extra special for that one."

    "I don't know, Commander." Hawkins said. "I'm feeling awfully uneasy over here. Might want to rip his antennas off."

    Bat'chu shot him a dirty look.

    "Now, shall we adjourn to the conference room? I think we need to have a little talk..." Kendra said, motioning to the door off to the side of the bridge.

    Hawkins nodded. "Sounds like a plan."

    Kendra followed everyone and hit her commbadge. "Summers to the senior staff. Please report to the conference lounge immediately. We have some visitors..."
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    #25
    Chapter 23 - Conference

    Christopher noticed the strange looks the bridge crew were giving him, "I assume you have better things to do than gawp at me?" he asked. Everyone suddenly seemed to concentrate on their consoles. Christopher smiled to himself and headed for the conference lounge taking out his tricorder and putting on his most menacing look. Entering the room, Christopher nodded once to everyone and stood in a shadowy corner, looking sinister.

    Kendra sat in the conference lounge, watching as each senior officer filed into the room, but mostly was watching as the Andorian sat in his chair, facing the door, in a complete calm. It was as if he were meditating or something. Just then, the doors slid open again to reveal two people unfamiliar to her; a man and a woman. Taylor and Skyler followed close behind them. The woman immediately burst into the room. "You blue son of a bitch! You think you can hide on another Starfleet ship?"

    "Hey!" Hawkins yelled. "We will have order in this meeting. If you make another outburst, you will be escorted back to your ship."

    The woman calmed, but only slightly. She pulled back and found a chair to ease into, tossing a leg over one of the arms. The dark haired woman was definitely far from ladylike. "My apologies," she said to the room.

    Kendra raised an eyebrow. "Okay... Now that we're here, let's get down to business. Who are you people?"

    The dark haired woman looked at the Commander, seemingly studying her. "Karrie Conway. Some people call me 'Radar'."

    "Why?" Kendra asked.

    "Well, now, you'll just have to find out, now won't you?" the woman said with a smile.

    Kendra wanted to reach across the table, but she refrained. "And you?" she asked, now turning to the man.

    "Richard "The Hammer" Ginelli." the man stated, as if for the record. "I'm a former Federation Green Beret, turned Bounty Hunter, and you have our target in custody."

    "Former Beret?" Hawkins asked in a surprised tone. "What the hell turned you to a life of a bail bondsman?"

    Ginelli smiled. "The pay is better. But quite honestly, Major, my past is hardly one to bring up."

    Hawkins nodded. "I can understand that."

    "So what is it that you want? We understand that you were chasing him..." Kendra popped in, motioning to the Andorian.

    "Apparently this Andorian has requested asylum and he are a bit curious to wondering if he have given it to him. He is wanted on three worlds for forgery, burglary, assault, and kidnapping. Not to mention he's wanted to the murder of a Federation diplomat's 9 year old daughter."

    Kendra raised an eyebrow. "Oh really now?" She turned to Bat'chu. "Care to explain that?"

    The Andorian shook his head. "They're lying. They're just racist against Andorians. They want to kill me."

    Hawkins held up his hand. "Now you just relax. If we really wanted the truth, we could just let our CMO give you a hypo full of truth serum. Ain't that right, Doc?"

    Christopher grinned evily, "Oh yes," he said in a voice that made Jade shiver, "Veritas six is a very potent truth serum. It does, however, have the effect of causing the victi.. excuse me, the patient to become vegetative for the rest of their life. Would you like me to get some?"

    "Pardon him. He's a little mad," Kendra said.

    Bat'chu looked oddly at the Kendra. "That's what she said about you," he told her, motioning to Shea.

    Shea's eyes widened, she gave the Andorian a steely look and then glanced at the Commander, "Sorry."

    Kendra smiled. "Don't worry about it Lieutenant." She looked back to the Andorian. "Besides, we're all a little mad here."

    Christopher's eyes stood out against the dark corner, "That's right. Some of the crew are quite insane. I doubt if even anesthazine would stop them if they got REALLY upset."

    Jade watched the exchange with interest, this was just the opportunity she needed to see how the crew she'd just become a part of handled things. Christopher was proving to be very convincing, he even had her believing in the bad guy act. His tone was giving her the creeps.

    Leaning back in her seat she studied the new visitors, Andorian's were inherantly violent but that didn't mean that this Andorian had committed any crimes although she wasn't going to say that. She simply sat back and continued to observe.

    Azura looked around the room at everyone, thinking it was odd that no one was asking questions. Like, wasn't the Commander supposed to be getting some info? Hel-lo? So, Azura piped up. "Okay, I have a question," she announced as she faced the Andorian. "Where exactly were you heading? If these two were chasing you, trying to kill you, why were you so far away from Andorian Space? Why were you heading for Gorn space?"

    "According to the people I met, I was right on course." Bat'chu said sternly.

    "And according to any normal pilot, you are off course." Hawkins said. "Now do you want to tell me why you're really here?"

    The Andorian grew quiet.

    Hawkins raised his eyebrows. "Seems someone is holding back more info then he should. Ain't that right, Counsellor?"

    Jade looked at the Andorian and concentrated.

    "I think Lt. Shea will agree with me." Hawkins added. "L.T. doesn't our guest seem less then comfortable?"

    Shea studied the Andorian closely giving him enough time to squirm, "I think he's as twitchy as a bug on a frying pan, hmm, good idea." She said innocently.

    The Andorian shook his head. "Peoples opinions don't mean a thing, Major."

    Hawkins nodded and looked at Taggart. "Councillor, doesn't our guest seem like he has something to hide?"

    "Indeed he does," Jade looked Hawkins before looking at the Andorian, "he's definitely hiding something.... no matter what he says. I can do a little poking around inside his head if you want." She kept her eyes on the Andorian to see what response, if any, that idea got.

    Kendra tossed a look at the Andorian, who was looking at her in sheer disbelief. "Oh, this is like no Starfleet vessel you've ever been on, my friend. We're kind of left to our own devices out here. Do what we want and such. And, honestly, we don't always get along and agree on stuff, so things tend to get a little... messy." Again, Bat'chu was completely dumbfounded. "Oh, did I forget to mention that I'm a Betazoid? Knew what you were going to say before you said it..."

    Laughter filled the room coming from the Bounty Hunters' direction. Karrie was laughing hysterically. "Hot damn! I think I misjudged you people," she chortled.

    Kendra now turned and smiled sweetly at the woman. "Oh, we haven't gotten to you yet..."

    Christopher loomed in the shadows and took out his tricorder. The noise drew a few looks from around the room. "Who's been near the Arianus system recently? Better be honest in answering because I'm detecting Xobome plague." He grinned, "It's lethal."

    Jade had to admit even she was believing this, and it was definitely the most entertaining staff briefing she'd been to in a long time. She looked at the three so- called guests.

    "I'm sure you don't need either myself or the Cmdr, as Betazoids, to tell you that the Dr is telling the truth" she nodded to Christopher.

    Christopher's eyes sparkled, "It's treatable in the first few days of exposure, after that, you don't notice symptoms until your features start to melt." He tried not to laugh when he saw that the Andorian and the bounty hunters had gone pale. This was proving to be more fun than he thought. "You know, I'm sort of getting tired of all this 'I've got something to hide' nonsense. You're going to tell the commander and the major everything. If, at the end, they're satisfied, I will treat you. If not, we can sit here and watch you turn into a puddle of organic matter, won't that be fun?"

    The Andorian exploded, "WHAT? You can't do that, what about your oath?"

    Christopher's eyes hardened and when he spoke, the room seemed to chill by twenty degrees, "My oath? Listen to me very carefully. I upheld my oath every day of my life until secretive bastards like you forced me to break it. So don't lecture me about what I can and can't do. I've already poisoned a planet full of Cardassians, so watching you die won't even delay my lunch. Oh sure, the commanders could order me to cure you right now, but I'd resign and leave you to die anyway." He really hoped that Kendra and Curtis would keep the act going.

    Jade watched with interest, if she was in their places she'd be telling all she knew by now, that's why she was glad she had her senses to rely upon they ensured she never did get put in that position.

    "I could always offer you an alternative Cmdr." she looked at Christopher. "I've got plenty of Borg nanoprobes, I'm sure I could replicate enough to adequately assimilate them into their very own collective." Jade bit her lip to stop herself from smiling, she never got to play around in a meeting before and she was enjoying it.

    Ginelli allowed his wicked smile to come forth. "We're aren't worried, Commander. We have nothing to hide. The Andorian here is the only one sweating bullets."

    "Learned to remain calm in training, Sgt. Ginelli?" Hawkins asked.

    Ginelli looked at the Marine and nodded. "In Special Forces, a man learns to adapt to any situation. But in a typical military force like yourselves, you always rely on force to get your captives to talk.

    Hawkins turned to Kendra with a smirk on his face. "I swear, Special Forces types think they know everything, don't they?"

    Kendra tossed him a dry look. "Yeah, you sure as hell do, Hawkins."

    "Honestly Summers, am I that bad?"

    "Yes, you are," she told him. "But we're used to it."

    Hawkins looked back at Ginelli, who was currently observing the situation, then the Marine pointed to the SEAL Trident on his breast pocket. "Don't con a special ops man, Sgt. Tell us why you're really here."

    Ginelli looked upon the Trident and nodded with approval. There was more to this man then e thought. He had to admit that the Doc and the Counsellor were scary in themselves and even the Betazoid Commander was a threat, but he would battle them all then to go against the SEAL. "We told you the truth, Major. I am willing to subject myself with a telepathic scan."

    "I don't think that would be necessary." Hawkins said,. "I don't wish telepaths on anybody."

    Now it was Kendra's turn to frown. "Hey, careful there. We telepaths tend to get our egos bruised easily..."

    Just then, Hawkins commbadge chirped. "Major, this is Sgt. Frost. Private Connolly and myself have intercepted some subspace transmission from the Gorn. You might want to listen to this."

    Hawkins looked at Summers again. "A lead?"

    "Perhaps," Kendra said thoughtfully. Then she turned to the newcomers in the room, particularly to the Andorian. "Perhaps we can finally get some answers now..."

    Karrie rolled her eyes. "Oh, somehow I doubt that."

    "Gunnery Sgt. Taylor, if the woman refuses again, please take her to the interrogation room and administrate some of our methods of information gathering."

    "With pleasure, Major." Taylor chimed in.

    She wanted to say something else, but Karrie kept her mouth shut. Instead, she sulked in her chair.

    Hawkins returned to his com conversation. "Patch it through into here Frosty."

    It only took a second before voices of the airwaves filled the room. "Dentar of the Gorn, this is Sub-Commander Thias of the Breen high command. Come in?"

    "Dentar here. Go ahead."

    "We are currently in position to pick up the package. Please transport it over immediately."

    "First things first, Sub-Commander, I want my latinum in my hand. Then and only then will you get the 797,000 Gorn troopers you've asked for."

    "Very well. Standby while we beam over the money."

    Hawkins listened close as a moment of silence came forth.

    Kendra's eyes widened. 797,000 troops? What in hell was going on?

    "We have received the latinum, Sub-Commander." Dantar said. "The troopers will be delivered by 0200 today. Death to the Federation!"

    "Death to the Federation." Thias replied. "Now nothing will hold the Dominion back. Thias out."

    Hawkins sighed deeply and began to think for a second. "So now the Dominion has the Jem'Hadar, Vorta, Breen, and Gorn, not to mention the Jelloheads. What's next? A reunion with the Cardassians?"

    Kendra shook her head. "Nah, I think that's one group that we'll be able to count out. They're still rebuilding their planet. They've got no time for launching an attack of this magnitude, even if they aren't the head honchos of this group."

    "Common knowledge will tell you that they have at least a few million allies working with them." Taylor said.

    "True," Kendra agreed.

    Karrie looked at Ginelli. "I don't like this, Ginelli. Something ain't right here...."

    Richie took her hand into his own and held it tightly. Even for their line of work, the situation was getting out of hand. "Relax babe. We won't be here for but a few days. Try not to think about it."

    Kendra looked over at the whispering bounty hunters. "Care to share with the class?"

    They stopped and stared at her. "No, not really," Karrie answered.

    "Private matters that doesn't concern the Federation. No offence."

    Cushing exploded into motion. Jumping forward out of the shadows, he revelaed his gaunt looking face, his arms waving threateningly, "Christ, I've had enough of this crap, I'm going to get some answers, even if I have to use this laser scalpel." Everyone's eyes seemed to focus on Christopher's hand, the blue blade of the laser scalpel sparkled. "I'm very upset right now, so my hands aren't that steady which will make it hurt more." Explained Christopher as he advanced on the Andorian.

    "He's serious" Jade watched Christopher, he was actually scaring her. "He's deadly serious."

    "Okay, people, calm." Kendra looked around, her eyes resting on the Andorian finally. His face remained stoic, but it was very obvious he was straining to keep it that way. "I'm going to give you one last chance, sir. Tell us what's going on and we'll go easy on you. Otherwise I'm gonna throw you in the brig."

    "I know nothing." Bat'chu replied. "I'm just an honest Andorian merchant looking to sell some goods."

    "You liar!" Ginelli yelled. "You know damn well what you're up to!"

    "I am not up to anything, sir!" Bat'chu replied.

    "That's it!" Hawkins yelled in his old drill sergeant tone. "I say the Bounty Hunters are assigned quarters and the Andorian gets a shot of truth serum. I don't care what Summers says, but I'm sure she agrees with me. So Cushing, administrate the serum and get back to us." Hawkins said and looked at Summers to forward the order.

    Kendra looked to him, to see if he was serious. Then she turned and nodded to Christopher. "Go for it, Doc."

    It was time for Christopher's coup-de-grace. He leaned close to the Andorian, laser scalpel singing some of the white hair on Bat'chu's head. "Do you have any relatives?" he asked.

    Bat'chu's composure came close to slipping, "W-why?"

    Christopher leered, "Because like I said, Veritas has quite a severe effect on the victim. I'd like to send your relatives a message saying that due to an unfortunate accident, poor Bat'chu has become a vegetable and has no possibility of recovery. And because you insisted about my oath, I'll tell them that euthanasia is out of the question. So you'll live, but only as an interesting statue in the corner of the room."

    "I'm tired of dealing with lies. Some order better come of this." Hawkins muttered.

    Taylor looked at Hawkins and could tell that the Major meant it. "Permission to brief the troops, sir."

    "Permission granted. Tell them I'll be down within the hour to let them in on more info." Hawkins said.

    Taylor nodded. "Yes sir."

    Kendra watched as the marines filed out of the room to inform their respective squads of what was going on. Not that they really knew what was going on yet, but that was beside the point. It was always better to be safe than sorry. "Lieutenant Skyler, please assign some quarters to our bounty hunting friends and escort them there for the time being. As for Mr. Bat'chu, have him escorted to the brig and then hang around with Doctor Cushing and possibly Doctor Patamon as well. Lieutenant Taggart, I'd like you to sit in on this as well, to make sure things are going well from a psychological point of view."

    Jade nodded, "Yes, Commander."

    Azura nodded. "Yes ma'am. If you all will come with me..." she said, motioning to the newcomers and exiting the room. There was a couple of security guards waiting outside the door, to escort the Andorian to the brig while Azura made arrangements for the bounty hunters.

    "Mr. Longsmith, I'd like you to work to see if you can figure out where these ships are around here. The ships are likely cloaked, so they might be hard to find," Kendra said.

    "Affirmative." Laz replied already leaving his chair.

    Kendra turned to the last of them. "Ivy, keep us on standby in case we need to haul ass all of a sudden. I do not want to be caught unprepared with no way out."

    "We'll be ready Commander." Ivy replied, heading for the helm station.

    "Okay, people. That's it for today. Or at least until we find out more of what's going on. Dismissed."
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    #26
    Chapter 24 - Concern

    Jade paused outside the meeting room to wait for Christopher. She had to admit his performance in there even had her going for a while, she was lost in a daydream world as the door opened not even noticing he'd exited.

    "Are you okay Jade?" he asked.

    "What?." she looked up at him. "I'm sorry I was day dreaming.... bad habit."

    "Well you were just standing there, I thought you'd shut down for a moment." Said Christopher, sounding concerned.

    "If I was shut down I'd be flat out on the deck" she smiled. "I thought I'd wait for you, hope you don't mind?."

    "Certainly not, I'd welcome the company. Shall we?"

    As they set off Jade couldn't resist asking what she wanted to know.

    "You really had me going in there." she looked at Christopher. "Normally my senses stop me from getting creeped out in those situations but you really got me spooked."

    Christopher laughed, "Well, I suppose my ancestor will rest soundly in his grave after hearing that." He looked at the confused expression on her face. "My ancestor, Peter, was a twentieth century horror film actor, and quite a good one too. Naturally, I've seen all of Peter's films, so I know what scary is and I guess it's just in the family genes to be able to scare people."

    "I know you had to be convincing but that was...." she shook her head, "at times, way too realistic."

    Looking both ways along the corridor, ensuring that no-one else was within earshot, Christopher confided, "At first it was a bit of fun, but then that bloody Andorian mentioned my oath and that brought it all flooding back to me. The Cardassian prison camp, the torture chambers. . . I'm sorry." Wiping away a tear, continued down the corridor.

    "Are you okay?" she looked at him concerned. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to upset you."

    "That's okay, please don't be sorry. It was a long time ago, but these are wounds that will never heal." Christopher tried to assure Jade.

    "All wounds heal" she smiled. "It takes a lot of time in some cases but eventually things do get better."

    "I've never forgotten it, I don't think I ever will. I don't even think I'd want to. I prefer to keep the memory of my friends alive, even if they're not."

    "What happened?" she looked at him as they walked.

    "In the prison camp? Well, it was a covert mission that went bad. We were all captured and tortured for information. One of the guards noticed that I was trying to cure the prisoners as best I could. I was taken to camp commandant and told that I would keep the prisoners alive so that they could work the mines, or I would be executed. I agreed and held on for ages until we were rescued after the ceasefire."

    "How many of you were there?."

    "When we entered the camp, we were a group of fifteen. Three of us made it out alive. The guards killed most people before I could tend to them, so I remained alive. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. But I've learned to cope since then. Excuse me a moment." He tapped his commbadge, "Cushing to Patamon."

    =/ Go ahead \=

    "Molly can you gather some Veritas, some cruel looking instruments and a resucitation kit and meet me in the brig?" he asked.

    =/ Okay, will do.\= Molly sounded confused but signed off anyway.

    "Veritas, instruments and resuscitation kit?." she looked at him, "what are you planning to do?."

    Christopher grinned wolfishly, "If he thought I was scary back there, wait until I get surgical instruments in my hands. I intend to scare the hell out of him."

    "Need any volunteers?" she smiled a sly smile. "Mad doctor goes crazy and takes it out on the ex-borg maybe?."

    "Sounds like a plan. We'll let Molly in on it when we get there. Any specific ideas?"

    "You're the mad doctor" she grinned. "I'm not used to being aboard a ship where almost anything goes, I'll go along with anything you have in mind."

    "Right then, but first let's work on your maniaical laughter. Repeat after me, 'Mwahahahaaaaaaaa'." Christopher chuckled.

    "MwAhAHahAhahAHahaaAAAAHAHAAAA"

    Christopher nearly doubled up laughing, "Hey! No fair! That's better than my laugh."

    Crewmen stared at the senior officers as they practised their sinister laughs all the way down the corridor towards the turbolift.




    Chris Sabien led SEAL Team 2 to the marine barracks. From the sound of his cousin's voice, he felt that their mission had went from cautious to hitting the fan in about 30 seconds. All Sabien knew was that the Team was currently under briefed and he was looking forward to remedy that.

    He walked through the doors leading to the barracks and he stopped and stood at ease. "Team 2 here as requested, Major."

    Hawkins looked from Taylor to his cousin. "Come on in, Lt. Sabien and thanks for coming. I'll be with you in a moment."

    "I don't like waiting. Get antsy. Any ideas on what's going on?" Aspen said quietly to Chris.

    "I don't know, but I know it isn't going to be pretty." Sabien said.

    "Getting scared, Sarge?" Connolly asked.

    Aspen turned her head slowly towards Connolly. "Yeah. Scared that you're gonna wet yourself and embarrass all of us when we find out what's going on."

    "That'll be enough, Sergeant." Sabien said tensely.

    "Oh, come on. He walked into that one," Aspen said, in an attempt to explain.

    "She's got a point Lieutenant." Monk cut in. "The kid did walk in on that one. Hence he did deserve the comment."

    She grinned from ear to ear. "See? Monkey agrees."

    "But Monk knows better then to fall out of order, don't you Doc?"

    Monk nodded. "My mother didn't raise a fool, Lieutenant."

    "So what? They all love me, but you're the only one that counts and they know it. So trying to get on my good side is kinda useless. Which means that Monk just agrees with me."

    Sabien grunted and looked at Hawkins, who was currently heading towards the front of the room. "Listen up people. We are currently investigating the Gorn sector of space. I'm sure you all know that already. But what you may not know is that SEAL Team 1 and a member of SEAL Team 2 has patched into a communication link between an unknown Gorn and a Breen sub-commander. Seems they have more then a trade agreement going on. From what recon has told us, we are going up against 797,000 Gorn foot soldiers, plus an unknown army of Vorta, Breen and Jem'Hadar. It is possible that we could be facing up to 5 million enemy troops. Maybe more."

    "Merciful gods!" Aspen whispered.

    Sabien whispered in turn. "I told you it was going to be bad."

    "Now as we stated earlier, we're expecting this mission just to be recon. We're not looking to engage in a conflict, but we will if need be."

    "Bloody hell, Major." Mad Dog said. "I thought those right bastards would've figured out who they are messing with by now. I mean, they tried to get uppity once and we ended up taking it out of their hides. Hell, I even thought we blagged a majority of their weaponry once already."

    "Apparently we didn't steal everything, Sergeant Masters." Hawkins said. "Now you all basically know as much as I do. Any questions?"

    "I have one. I know that we are all more than capable of handling ourselves, but five million outnumbers us just a little... Do we have any sort of reinforcements on the way?" Aspen asked.

    Hawkins looked at Master Sgt. Sato. Hell of a soldier for an ex-fleeter. "I'm quite sure that Section 31 will provide us with backup, but I know that all of us working together is more then capable of taking on the opposition."

    "Well, I guess that means I get to test the Warhammer's weapons capabilities..." she said quietly.

    "I have a question, sir." Halloway said. "As Lance...I mean Sgt Walker and myself were talking about earlier today, what if we engage the hostiles before the engage us? Could give them a 'Pearl Harbour' and knock them out early on. Hell, if we locate the Gorn soldiers, two photon torpedoes on the surface will take care of them."

    "Amen." Walker said.

    "That is a very good point, Sgt." Hawkins began. "But we have no clue where the soldiers are, or even if the Gorn are directly involved. Sestus is populated with over 3 billion Gorn civvies alone. Who knows which Gorn is working for the Dominion. For all we know the 797,000 is a bunch of renegades."

    "So we can easily assume that the Vorta are feeling the same way?" Jacobs asked.

    "Correct." Hawkins replied. "As I stated earlier, we are under briefed and I'm just relaying info. We should expect more news within the next few days. Our new guests seem to be hiding something, so their presence might prove to be useful."

    "Should I start prepping the Warhammer for both a possible firefight and transport? That way, we can get troops on other ships if need be," Aspen asked. She knew she already mentioned the war ship once, but she really, really wanted to play with her new toy.

    "As I said, all other info is currently unavailable. But prepping the warhammer is a damn fine idea, Sarge." Hawkins said.

    Sabien nudged Sato. "There you go. Got your first approval."

    "Finally..." she said with a smirk.

    "Major, what are the odds that we'll encounter hostile forces?" Schoenick asked.

    "50/50"

    "So we should remain on standby the entire time?" Taylor asked. "What about maneuvers and training?"

    Hawkins looked at his SNCO. "Maneuvers and training will be postponed until further notice. Any other questions? No? Alright, dismissed."
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    #27
    Chapter 25 - Guests

    The darkened room sat quietly, unused and undisturbed. It wasn't as if guest quarters were often used on this type of vessel, but that was about to change.

    The door slid open, the darkness giving way to the welcome rectangle of light from the hallway. At last, it would be put to use instead of just allowing it's contents to gather dust and fall into disrepair.

    "Dear God. Don't you people know how to turn on the damn lights around here?" So much for peace and quiet. Karrie marched in the room and bellowed, "Computer, lights!"

    The computer complied and the overhead lights invaded the darkness, chasing it back into it's corners. She looked around. "Not bad."

    Ginelli looked around the spacious room and nodded in agreement. It sure beat the bunk back on the ship. Hell, this place was a house compared to their usual quarters. "Not bad at all. Seems like we're on a vacation now."

    Steve walked in behind them, standing in the doorway. "Soooo.... Will that be all for you right now?"

    Karrie turned around and smirked. "Awwww.... The security guard turned bellboy. How quaint."

    Steve narrowed his eyes and glared at her. ""I'll be outside your door if you need anything."

    "Why?" Richie asked. "It's not like we're planning on going anywhere. Besides, the last time I heard, we were guests, not prisoners."

    "You are to have at least two guards outside your door at all times. If you want to go anywhere, you will be escorted and it will have to be cleared by either the Commander or the Major," he explained.

    "Damn, sounds like we're prisoners after all. Hell, if money wasn't so important to me, I'd be going back to my ship right this instance."

    He shrugged. "Sorry, those are the orders."

    "What? Don't you trust us?" Karrie asked sweetly.

    "No," Steve answered without hesitation. "I'll leave you two here." And he stepped out the door.

    Ginelli looked back at Conway. "And he never even asked us if that 1 bed was going to be a problem for us. How rude."

    "Eh, they probably figure that one of us will take the couch or floor or something," Karrie replied with a shrug. "What do you think is gonna happen next?"

    Ginelli shrugged and removed his black duster. "Who knows about these fleeter types. All I know is that once we get our alien, I'll be more than happy. To tell you the God honest truth, I don't feel like being played with."

    "Well, I dunno about you, but I think that by that little show we got in conference lounge, it's safe to say that we're already being screwed with... I mean, have you ever seen a Starfleet CMO threaten people like that? But, by God, that Andorian bought it. Hook, line, and sinker." the human woman said as she strolled around the room.

    "That's true." he replied and sat on the bed, bouncing on it a few times to test the comfort level. "But I think that Major Hawkins will get this straightened out asap."

    That stopped her. She looked at Ginelli in amusement. "Oh really? And why is that?"

    "Well, he's a SEAL." he replied. "SEALs have integrity."

    "Ha! Something tell me that integrity doesn't go very far on thi--"

    Ginelli held his finger to his lips and ran his hand across the comforter. "Hey! Look at this!"

    Karrie crossed the room in two steps, hand near the weapon she had concealed on her person. Well, one of the weapons, anyway. "What? What is it? Bug?"

    "It's a bed..." he replied with a small grin. "Beds are fun..."

    She stared at him for a moment and then let out a deep sigh. "Dammit, Ginelli. I thought it was something serious." She jumped on the bed, landing on her stomach and then rolling on her side. "Hey, this bed is pretty comfortable..."

    "I told you." he said and ran his hand along the inside of her thigh, damn close to her private area.. "And I'll bet it's...fun...too."

    "I heard you before," she said, willing herself not to react to his touch. "Beds are fun. Great for sleeping. Sleeping is fun too." She grinned. "Although... I don't think it's sleeping that you have on your mind at the moment...."

    A while later Ginelli watched her as she pulled on his shirt and walk towards the door. "What are you doing?"

    She looked over her shoulder at him and gave him a positively evil grin. "Going to screw with the bellboy."

    He watched with a half smirk on his face. As he stated earlier, she never surprised him.

    The door slid open and she stepped out into the hallway. "Excuse me.." she said sweetly.

    Steve and the other security guard turned to face her. Each took a double take. Steve had to fight a gasp. Karrie stood before them in Ginelli's shirt, and nothing else. It was big on her, yes, but it still just managed to barely cover her. Them coming out with phasers drawn, they expected. Even trying to cut through the bulk head somehow, they expected. What they were not expecting, especially Steve, was for the woman to come out with hardly any clothes on.

    "Uh, yeah," he finally stammered out. "What do you need?"

    Karrie smiled innocently and raised her hand up on the door frame. The shirt raised up a little on her legs, coming dangerously close to exposing herself but stopping just short of doing so. Steve struggled to keep his eyes on her face. "Well, you see, we were just trying to replicate a little wine in here and the replicator won't do it. It gives us sparkling grape juice instead. Is something wrong with it?"

    Steve shook his head, his mouth now dry and his face feeling very hot. "The replicators will not produce alcoholic beverages. You have to go to the mess hall for that."

    "Ahhh," she said with a little pout. Then she stepped toward him and pressed herself along the side of his body. "You said 'will not' rather than 'cannot'. Does that mean that there's some sort of access code that you can give me?" Karrie moved her leg up on his, rubbing it. "Please?"

    Now his face was burning, and he could feel the sweat beginning to form on his brow. "I'm sorry," he managed to sputter. "I should have said 'cannot'."

    "Damn," Karrie muttered, seemingly defeated. "Oh well." And she immediately turned and headed back in the room.

    Steve gathered himself and then turned to his fellow security guard. The other man was ginning from ear to ear. He opened his mouth, but Steve cut him off before he could say a word. "Shut up." He glared at the other man, who then threw his hands up and went back to standing against the wall. A silence once again permeated the hallway, but it only lasted a few moments before Steve hit his commbadge. "Hollins to security."

    =/ Security here. Go ahead. \=

    "I need someone down here to take my place. I need to be...relieved," he said, hesitating on that last word.

    The security officer on the other end of the comm was almost deafened by the laughter that suddenly burst over the signal.




    Christopher and Jade caught up with Molly as she was about to head into the brig.

    "Doc, what's going on?" Molly approached quickly. She was very unsure of the situation, and while she knew the ship had brought aboard a couple of 'visitors,' she didn't know the details. She'd heard the call coming from the bridge, ordering Shea to escort the Andorian from the brig to the bridge, and she assumed this had something to do with it.

    "Hello Molly, sorry about not explaining about the situation. We have to interrogate an Andorian and we're going to use Veritas to get the truth out of him, he's too evasive for normal questioning." Christopher explained.

    "Evasive isn't the half of it." Jade shook her head and smiled at Molly.

    "Well I've got everything you asked for," Molly piped up. She opened up a medkit and showed several spiky, cruel looking instruments - which, when closely examined, were surgical tools the computer had said were Klingon in design from three centuries ago. She was aiming to do her job and do it right. But she hesitated a moment before handing the hypospray over. "Are we really going to...?" she started.

    Christopher held up his hands, "No no no, we're not actually going to turn him into a vegetable, but he thinks I will." He looked at Molly's expression, "Long story but he thinks I'm evil incarnate."

    "Well what can you expect." Jade grinned. "You even had me going there for a while!"

    "Hey! I was acting. . . for the most part." Christopher protested.

    Molly looked amused. In the time she'd thus far served with the doc, and from speaking to the EMH and Amanda, she'd grown quite accustomed to his unusual sense of humor. She sized Jade up for a brief moment. This was the woman who was going to help Kennedy develop her abilities? She was a little doubtful, but promised herself she'd sit down and have a chat of her own with Jade and soon.

    "Well," said Christopher, "I was thinking of me playing bad doc, and you playing good doc. You know, you're outraged at what I'm doing, I could lose my commission etc."

    "Meanwhile I'm doing my best to convince our Andorian guest that you're really going to do it." Jade smiled.

    Molly grinned slightly, getting the whole picture. "I see ... so I'm supposed to throw myself over the Andorian, keep you from trying to hurt him... beg you to just leave him alone?" She snickered softly, imagining the scene that would momentarily be played out.

    "I'm afraid I'm not used to playing the good guy, bad guy scene so I'll just play along and go where you guide me." Jade looked at Christopher.

    "Sounds like a plan." Christopher stated, picking up a wicked looking six pointed instrument, "where on earth did you find these? They're horrible."

    "Replicator files," Molly grinned slightly. "Klingons - well, humans too, really - used to have a very backwards sense of 'medicine.' This particular device was used to keep the secondary heart functioning in cases of open heart surgery." She blanched slightly at the thought of a surgical procedure such as that. But humans had performed such procedures on their own people for several hundred years before microtechnology and significant medical advances had made the need to cut a person open obsolete.

    "Let's go and have a word with our blue friend." Christopher said.

    Jade simply nodded taking the time to let out a deep relaxing breath. Molly echoed her breath, taking a deep one of her own, to still her mind. She suddenly found herself *very* glad she wasn't an empath or telepath.

    When they entered the brig, the Andorian was cowering inside a cell behind a forcefield. Crewman Caruthers was manning the security post. He look at Cushing's face and then at the Klingon instrument. He had been briefed to play along, "No way Doc, not with that."

    Christopher growled, "Crewman you're relieved, I believe that you are due a break, don't argue, leave, NOW!"

    Caruthers scampered out of the brig and Christopher sealed the door behind him.

    "Counsellor, would you deactivate the force field?" he asked.

    "Yes Sir" she turned to the controls deactivating the force field.

    As the field flashed into nothing, Christopher loomed toward the scared Andorian and waved the Klingon instrument, "Bat'chu, say hello to my little friend. You're both going to get very well acquainted over the next several hours, you and all his friends." He said, pointing to the instrument trolley.

    If the situation hadn't been so serious, Molly would have allowed herself a little smile. Most of the instruments were designed specifically for Klingon physiology, and as Andorians didn't have a second heart, the star shaped instrument would prove useless. But the Andorian already seemed terrified at the mere thought of someone using such a horrible little thing on him. Molly hoped he'd cooperate, give them what they wanted and not cause a fuss.

    Jade stood to one side her arms folded she didn't do anything more then just stand there focusing her full attention on the very wary Andorian in front of her.

    "You can't do this!" Shrieked the Andorian.

    "Oh really?" laughed Christopher, "Who's going to know Bat'chu? I'm going to flay every inch of your blue skin off and if you still haven't told me what I want to know, I'll use a dermal regenerator. I'll heal you up and we'll start again. But first, we need to make you a little more comfortable. You see Bat'chu, I intend to inject you with neurotak 7. It will leave you paralysed for a few hours but you'll still be able to speak and, more importantly, feel every last fragment of pain."

    The doc was playing it up very good ... a little too good. Molly glanced at him, hoping he wouldn't go any further. But the Risan woman knew the 'game' they were scheduled to play wasn't nearly over yet, and she looked sympathetically at the Andorian. "Just tell him what he wants to know ... I promise he'll back off." Her face was determined, but she wasn't quite sure if it was because she was serious, or part of the game.

    Bat'chu curled up into a ball and looked imploringly at Molly. "Please," he whimpered, "Please don't let him."

    "You had your chance Bat'chu. Now it's my turn. Molly, 200cc's of neurotak 7."

    "No, sir ... I think you're going a little too far." Now she was sure of herself, and the game. But she was supposed to be the 'good doc,' and that's what she'd do. She stubbornly held onto the medkit containing full and empty hypospray vials.

    Christopher's eyes widened, "What?"

    "No neurotak. Do you know what that will do to Andorian physiology?" Molly shook her head sadly. "Melts the frontal cortex of the brain to a little puddle of blue goo, that's what it'll do. No, there's got to be a better way, sir."

    "With or without it, Molly, I'm going to start slicing into this piece of filth until he tells me what he knows." Barked Christopher.

    "I'm sorry Sir" Jade looked at Christopher. "I will not stand here and watch you do that!." she looked towards the Andorian, "if I were you I'd tell him what he wants to know!! You'll just have to do without it, sir." She put the medkit on an empty bench directly across from the brig, and sat on it, crossing her arms stubbornly.

    "Get out of the way Molly." Christopher said in a tone that would have frozen water, "Seven hundred thousand Gorn troops are on their way to destroy the federation and he knows something that may help us stop them. What does one life matter when we're saving billions?"

    "Matters a lot to him," Molly growled softly, gesturing to the wide-eyed Andorian, getting to her feet once again. She had a tone and a look to match Christopher's, and a deep running stubborn streak. She called upon that streak to help her through this good cop, bad cop routine. Hell if this worked out, she and the doc would have to go on the road with their little comedy act ... get a few bookings, maybe make some money off it. "Besides, killing one person to satisfy your grotesque little need to torture another person is unethical!"

    Christopher's eyes had darkened and his face seemed even more gaunt, "To hell with ethics!"

    Jade shivered at the tone of Christopher's voice, he was so believable it gave her the creeps. She couldn't help but tense up as she watched him.

    Now Molly was unsure if she'd gone a little too far or not. His face had changed, but she pressed forward. "Sir, I really think you need to reconsider this course of action. We'll find another way to get what we need to know!"

    With his back towards the Andorian, Christopher winked at Jade to let her know he was still in control. He mouthed the words, 'Trust me' and spun around, dodging Molly. He brought the Klingon instrument round and reversed its blades, neatly slicing across the Andorians forearm. It was just a scratch, but it was in a spot that would bleed quite a lot and be quite painful.

    Bat'chu screamed in horror at both the blood and the cold look in Cushing's eyes, "All right! I was hired by the Alliance as a go between. I'm meant to meet with representatives in the Foldor system at co-ordinates 117 mark 085. The meeting is in two days time. That's all I know, I swear! Please don't hurt me any more, please. . . . .please." he lapsed into sobs.

    Jade straightened up, walking towards Christopher she placed a hand on his arm. "I've got a very.... uneasy feeling." she looked at the Andorian who was still cowering, "he's holding something back but I wouldn't recommend pushing him any more."

    Christopher felt as though he'd just been damned, "All right Molly, 2cc's Quatranin and put a dressing on his arm, it's only a scratch." He said softly.

    Molly immediately relaxed, opened the medkit and followed orders. "Yes sir." She glanced to the Doc, making sure the Andorian was more concerned with his injury than with her own actions right now, and winked to the doc, allowing a smile to briefly grace her lips. 'We got him,' the look said. 'Good job.' She then turned quickly back towards the Andorian, who was whimpering and trying to stop the flow of blood from his arm.

    Christopher stepped out of earshot and tapped his comm badge, "Cushing to Summers, we have something from the Andorian, I'll be up in a minute."

    =/ Understood Doc \=

    Christopher looked at Jade, "You do realise that I'm going straight to hell for what I just did, don't you?"

    "You did what you had to do Sir" she looked at him. "under normal circumstances I'd have thought you were crazy, but nothing about this...." she looked at Bat'chu before looking back at him, "is ordinary."

    "Agreed." Said Christopher, "At least I didn't lose control this time. What was it you got from the Andorian?"

    "I don't know what it is" she tensed up again rubbing her own arm as though she was trying to get warm. "there's just something.... I can't explain. He's afraid but not so much of us, of something else."

    "It could be the threat of the bounty hunters are making him very nervous. Hell, that ex-green beret makes ME nervous." Christopher laughed softly.

    As they made their way out of the cell Jade paused before turning around and walking back over to Bat'chu.

    Molly glanced at Jade, wondering what in the hell she was doing going back to the cell. They'd gotten information - not necessarily everything, but enough to start with. What could she possibly want with him? Telepath ... that's right. Jade was a telepath, and probably sensed something from him. She shook her head, uttered something about 'telepaths and empaths and espers, oh my' and headed back to sickbay.

    "Thanks Molly, you did real good. Caruthers, you can come back in now. You played your part well, thank you." Christopher shook the man's hand as he filed back into the brig.

    "Not a problem Doc, did you get what you needed?" Caruthers asked.

    "Eventually," explained Christopher, "by the way, there's a bit of blood on the floor. I'll have someone come and collect it for analysis."

    Caruthers merely nodded and walked back to his station.

    Jade ignored what was being said walking right up to the terrified Andorian. "It may not seem like it right now but you can trust us.... I know you're afraid, just think about it." With that she turned around and walked out.
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    #28
    Chapter 26 - Repercussions

    Laz rubbed his temples, wondering how anything ever got done around here. Sure, he had experience with this level of technology, but this was just slow!

    He looked over at K'ta who was still busy rummaging through the Andorian's computer core. Laz was trying to configure the sensors to detect, strategically, cloaked ships. But as usual, without knowing the specifics of the cloak ships, it was going to be difficult.

    And a real pain.

    Laz glared at the unresponsive console. How hard was it to comprehend? It was such a simple method of determining the location of cloaked ships.

    Just look where they aren't.




    Jade exited the brig as Molly headed back to sickbay, whatever was going on with Bat'chu he was genuinely terrified. She walked over to Christopher who was looking at her as if she was insane for going back into the cell alone.

    "That was a very brave and very silly thing you just did." Christopher chided.

    "The way he is at the moment he's no threat." she looked back at Bat'chu "besides I'd have felt the emotional response if he was going to suddenly lurch at me."

    "So what made you go back in there then? It can't have been his charming personality."

    "There's just something...." she shook her head. "I don't know what it is but it's giving me the creeps."

    "How about we get the hell out of here?" he asked.

    "Yes please" she looked back the cell one more time before they started on their way. As they walked she breathed a sigh of relief. "That's better" she smiled, "one of the drawbacks of combined Drax and Betazoid abilities I get easily overwhelmed."

    "Want to tell me how?"

    "I have the usual Betazoid mental protection, my metaconcious filters the psychic input that way and my Drax physiology filters it too but the increased abilities I get from both mean I easily get drawn in. I've been working on my mental shields, there was a time when I barely had any control at all. Not any more."

    "That's good to hear Jade." Christopher said, genuinely relieved. He liked Jade, she was honest and forthcoming. He shuddered at the thought of what the Borg did to her.

    "I take it you're going to report to the Commander?" she looked at him as they walked up to the turbolift.

    "I certainly am. I'm no navigator, but if I remember rightly, we're going to have to punch it if we're going to get to the rendezvous on time."

    "Would you mind or for that fact would the Commander mind, if I returned to my quarters?."

    Christopher smiled warmly, "I'll sort it with Kendra," frowning, he added, "Is there a problem?"

    "No problem" she smiled, "unlike some ex Borg I don't have to regenerate but I do need to get something to eat and drink as well as give my senses a rest. It's very draining monitoring and probing someone as emotionally uptight as our Andorian friend.... I just need to take a break."

    "Don't we all." He replied.

    Stepping into the turbolift Jade stated her deck and waited for the lift to arrive at her deck, she looked round at Christopher as she exited.

    "I'll see you later Sir" she smiled. "oh and thank you for clearing up that problem I had, I haven't had any headaches since."

    "You know, it's always nice when a patient says 'Thank you'. Makes my job worthwhile. Hmmm, maybe I'll write that in ship's orders. 'All patients must thank the duty doctor' I like that. Have a nice evening Jade." Christopher waved.

    Jade smiled as the turbolift doors closed. Making her way along the corridor she headed back to her quarters.

    The turbolift doors hissed open onto the bridge. Christopher stepped out, waved to Tawnia and headed for Kendra's ready room. He pressed the chime and waited patiently.

    The was a slight pause. "If you have bad news, go away!" Kendra's voice said from the other side.

    Smiling, Christopher entered, "Well, we certainly got something from our blue friend."

    "Really?" Kendra asked, clearly perking up now.

    "Well if it's that good, I think I'll get a drink." Hawkins replied and prepared to go to the replicator. "Anybody else want something?"

    "God yes," Christopher flopped into a seat, "better make it a double."

    Kendra watched for a moment as Hawkins made his way to the replicator before turning to the Doc again. "What do you have for us, Doc?"

    "Well, apparently we have two days to get to the Foldor system. The Andorian was hired as a liaison between the dominion and the Gorn. He was meant to meet with delegates at Foldor." Christopher explained.

    Hawkins handed the glass to Cushing, then one to Summers before returning to his own seat. "The Andorian is working for the two groups."

    Christopher took the drink and gulped it down, relishing in its warmth as it spread through his chest.

    Kendra drummed her fingers on the desk. "Interesting. So our Andorian friend actually has some relevance to our mission. Spiffy."

    "Makes me wonder if the Andorian government is working with them as well." Hawkins stated.

    "That's not the half of it. Jade got the impression that he's hiding something. He's afraid of something, more than he's afraid of me or torture. We figured it was better not to push him completely over the edge. We can't get information from a corpse or a vegetable." Christopher reasoned.

    "No, vegetables and corpses tend to be quite uncooperative," Kendra agreed. "Do you think you might be able to ascertain what that is if you try again later or is he already freaked enough?"

    "He's freaked alright. Something to do with the fact that I tried to flay his skin off." Christopher explained. "Besides that, Jade is mentally and physically exhausted from probing him for so long. I'd like to find another route if we can."

    Hawkins nodded his head in semi-agreement. "Come to think of it, we haven't even spoke to the Bounty Hunters yet. They might be the reason that he's freaking out, but I can't be sure. Hell, I'd be more afraid to upset off two worlds, rather then two hunters."

    "This is very true. We're supposed to be discreet and touching off a war between a couple of the major players and the Federation would make us quite visible..." Kendra replied thoughtfully.

    "Well, I already pissed off Cardassia prime when I poisoned one of their planets so another one won't make a difference. What about the bounty hunters?" Christopher offered.

    "I personally think we should bring them up and chat." Hawkins said.

    "Sounds like a plan to me," the Betazoid agreed. She started to reach up for her communicator.

    Hawkins stopped Summers before she made the call. "You're sure they are unarmed, right?"

    She shrugged. "The computer would have sounded if they had some sort of energy weapon on them. If they're carrying, then it well hidden under some kind of personal cloak. And, even though they are bounty hunters I very seriously doubt that they would go to that much trouble."

    "Never can be too sure, Summers." The Major said in turn.

    "I agree. We can always flay them alive if they're too much trouble." Christopher smiled.

    Kendra grinned at that thought. "That might be more fun. Especially that woman. She's a hothead."

    Christopher smiled guiltily, "And it's not just her head that's hot!"

    "She seems to be borderline crazy." Hawkins said. "She comes off as the super bitch from hell. I'm more worried about the Andorian myself though. But of course I can understand that you're probably not used to this and scared off your rocker.""

    "I will pretend that both of you never spoke..." Kendra deadpanned.

    Hawkins laughed and let Summers make her call to bring the bounty hunters up.




    Karrie sat lounging in their posh quarters that had been oh so graciously assigned to them. "Ginelli," she said suddenly.

    Richie opened one eye from his resting position, and stared at his counterpart. "What is it?"

    "I'm getting spoiled. I like these big quarters. You have room to, oh, I don't know, move," she said lazily.

    He stretched out his legs and smiled as he tried to let sleep claim him again. "MmmHmmm."

    Just then, the door slid open and in walked Steve. "Oh, lookie! Have you stopped blushing yet?" Karrie asked with a smirk.

    Now Ginelli was wide awake and sitting on the foot of the bed. The quiet security guard decided to finally get vocal with them.

    Steve held his place. "I've been told to escort you to the Commander's ready room," he said firmly.

    "Figured it was something like that." Ginelli said and stood up. "Do we get to be interrogated now?"

    "I'm not sure what she wants to see you for," Steve said. "she might just want to talk to you, she might want to toss you out an airlock. I dunno."

    Richie tossed a glance toward Conway. "Oh gee, more fleeter threats. I'd be shaking in my boots if I was wearing any."

    "Here, lemme get them for you," Karrie said as she grabbed one and tossed it at him. "I want to see that."

    "Look, I don't need your smartass remarks, here," Steve told them, clearly getting annoyed. "Now, get your boots on and let's go."

    "Save your breath, rent a cop." Ginelli said and slipped on his boots. "I'm tired of starfleet 'authority'."

    Karrie shrugged as she found her own shoes and pulled them on. "I just don't like Starfleet. How about that?"

    Steve didn't even justify it with an answer.

    Ginelli walked out of the quarters first and followed another security guard to the Commander's quarters. Things appeared to be getting exciting all of a sudden.

    Karrie turned and gave Steve a little smile. "Now, I don't want you back there, undressing me with your eyes. I know the little peak you got was enough to drive you crazy..."

    "Shut the hell up and walk." Steve growled.

    "Ohhhh," Karrie said. "Touchy." But she complied and followed Ginelli out the door.




    Kendra and Hawkins were waiting for them as they entered the room. "Please, sit down," Kendra told them, motioning to the chairs.

    Ginelli walked in and pulled the chair out for Conway and let her sit first, before he got into his seat. "So what is it that you want, Skipper?"

    "Well, you see, through our interrogation of the Andorian, we've come across some disturbing information. There has been a rumors of a Dominion presence in this sector of space. Rumors of a possible alliance between the Dominion and the Gorn. Now, Bat'chu has just informed us that he is actually acting as a liaison between the two, which means our fears have just been confirmed."

    "And that also means if we let the Andorian go, we will all be in a world of pain." Hawkins added.

    Ginelli stopped and looked at the Federation officers. "Don't tell me what I think you're telling me."

    "I'm afraid we're going to keep the Andorian for ourselves."

    Karrie damn near exploded. "Oh, the hell you are!" she said and started to rise from her chair.

    Richie put his hand on her shoulder and plopped her back in the chair. "You must excuse my partner, she overreacts. But in this case, I think I don't blame her. You do know how long we've been chasing the alien?"

    "That's not really the point. The point is that we need him and the information he has to complete our mission," Kendra explained to them.

    "No," Karrie said tightly. "The point is that we have been chasing this clown for a very long time and he is ours to take in. He's worth a lot of money and we've been through hell and back to get him. And I'm not about to let Starfleet muscle in and steal our pay-day."

    "I don't think you two understand the severity of this situations." Hawkins said. "If those two species meet up and ally with each other, it means that they will officially be members of the Dominion. And who knows if the whole Gornian home planet will join up with them? Can you handle the Federation, or Earth for that matter to be annihilated?"

    Ginelli was quiet for a moment and thought about the ordeal. "As long as I get my money, I don't give a damn about the Federation."

    "Look, you may not be the biggest fan, but this would mean so much more than just protecting the Federation. This could prevent a war unlike anything this universe has ever seen. This could be 10 times worse than the Dominion War," Kendra said, having to restrain herself. These people just didn't give a damn at all.

    Karrie met Kendra's gaze with an icy stare of her own. "Okay, fine. You give us the Andorian and he never makes his rendezvous. No war, no evilness for the Federation. And we get our money. End of story."

    "Besides, the Federation is made up of crappy values." The male hunter said.

    Hawkins began to get angry. "And you called yourself a Green Beret. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You're nothing but a traitor and a coward."

    Now Karrie laughed. "Oh, that's rich. This coming from the infamous Curtis Hawkins. The marine who staged a mutiny aboard his previous starship. A marine who was acting under orders. A marine who was repaid by being thrown into Auckland, stripped of his position, by the very people who gave his those orders in the first place. Sounds to me like the pot calling the kettle black, sport."

    He was actually surprised that she knew about his past. All he could really say in reply was; "How do you know about that?"

    Kendra was also taken aback. "Someone has been doing their homework."

    "Oh, hell yeah. Kendra Summers, the Starfleet security chief who sided with the Marines. The only one who actually committed mutiny. At least he was acting under orders, you just did it because 'it was the right thing to do'. Don't get me wrong, you actually have my respect for that one. Weren't blindly following orders," Karrie continued, with an obvious jibe at Hawkins. "At least you were doing what you believed was right. But, damn, did you get the better deal. He follows orders and gets sent up the river, and you just got sent to an institute because you're technically nuts. What a cop out."

    "What else do you know?" Kendra demanded.

    "Enough to know that damn near everyone on this ship is some sort of ex-con," Karrie told her quietly, evenly. "Do you know how much we wanted some of you to break out of jail, just so we could find you, hunt you down? What I would give to see you two squirm." Her eyes had begun to sparkle now, as if lost in some sort of bizarre fantasy world all her own. An evil joy spread itself slowly across her features.

    "You would need a lot of weaponry, Missy." Hawkins snarled back.

    "Better not get her angry, Major. You wouldn't like it if she was angry."

    "No, somehow, I imagine I wouldn't like it either," Kendra said. She knew her own kind when she saw it. Insane. What she couldn't decide was if the woman knew it or not. She was willing to bet that she did. And that thought frightened her a little. It was best to get these people out of her before it turned ugly. "Well, you two are welcome to stay as long as you like, but, like I said before, the Andorian stays."

    Karrie snapped back into reality. "We aren't leaving without him."

    Finally Ginelli listened to his partner, then shook his head at Hawkins. "The woman is right, we are not leaving without our prize."

    "The I guess you'll just have to face the consequences then." The Marine said.

    Karrie stood up now. A crude looking gun seemingly appeared out of nowhere in her hands. "No, perhaps you didn't hear me..."

    "She said we aren't leaving without the Andorian, Major." Ginelli said. "And believe me, she'll use them."

    Hawkins sat back in his chair and tossed a casual look at Summers. "Thought you said that they were unarmed."

    Kendra stared down the barrel of the weapon. "They didn't have any! The scans didn't pick up any energy signatures! How the hell were we supposed to check for something as antiquated as a damn handgun?"

    "This 'damn handgun' may be 'antiquated' but it can still punch a hole in you, Commander," Karrie informed her. "And, by the way, that's part of the reason why we carry them. No one ever checks for 'em."

    Christopher sat and watched the scene before him unfold with a kind of sad amusement. The bounty hunters were obviously very good because no-one survives long as a bounty hunter if they're not. He studied the two as they bantered back and forth with Kendra and Curtis. The woman, Conway, was certifiable but appeared in control. Ginelli on the other hand was just plain old tough. There was a chemistry between the two, he thought. Then it happened, almost quicker than a blink. Conway had a gun in her hand and it was pointing at Kendra's face. 'Can't have that.' He thought.

    "Hold on a moment," he said to Conway, "let's just think for a minute. There's no need for weapons. By the way, that's a Burleigh NFB pistol isn't it? Haven't seen one of those for years."

    The woman shifted her aim slightly and glared at him.

    Hawkins went to reach for the secret security button, but a small humming sound echoed in the room. From beneath Ginelli's sleeves, two old 9mm Glocks came out from a robotic forearm attachment and into his hands. "People regard 21st century weaponry as antiques. We regard them as out best friends."

    "What nifty toys you have," Kendra commented, referring to Ginelli's robotic attachments.

    "Oh, the better to kick your ass, my dear," Karrie told her sweetly.

    "Good grief," Christopher looked at Kendra, "Do people still use lines like that?"

    Ginelli cocked the hammers back and stiffed-armed them at the COs', all the while keeping an eye on the Doctor. "Just give us what we came for and we'll go in peace."

    "Yes," Karrie agreed. "We really are a peaceful duo here. We really don't like to waste our ammo for no reason."

    "You must understand, Ginelli, we are under orders." Hawkins said. "We always obey our orders."

    "Yes," Karrie replied. "We've established that already. You'll follow them to the 'T'. But, you must understand, we really want our money."

    "Look," Kendra started. "How about you put those weapons down and we talk about this..."

    Karrie rolled her eyes. "Oh my God. Stop with the negotiator crap. It doesn't work..."

    "Now you listen here, Missy." Hawkins began but was cut off by the female bounty hunter.

    "No, you listen," she said. "I'm tired of this. Give us the Andorian. And stop moving to hit that security button. This is a private party. No one else is invited."

    "Oh yeah?" Hawkins asked and still went for the security button. "What is a girl like you going to do to me?"

    Karrie moved around the desk. She was still out reach but she could see them better now. "I said stop!"

    Hawkins totally disregarded her and flicked the button. The room was flooding with the harsh screeching of the alarm system. Soon Marines and SEC Teams would be entering the room.

    Ginelli opened fire on the console in front of Hawkins, and four shots later the alarm silenced. He turned to his partner and yelled sternly. "Secure the door!"

    Karrie immediately headed to the console beside the door and began punching at the buttons. She'd learned a thing or two in her time as a con-artist. Like, no matter what design of ship, Starfleet vessels virtually all had the same backdoors in their systems. "Door is locked. For now."

    "You can't win, Sergeant." Hawkins said. "My boys will kill me if given a direct order. Hostages aren't an option in this case."

    "Major, shut the hell up. I just want my damned Andorian and to get the hell off this ship."

    Hawkins flashed Ginelli a cool smile. "That'll never happen. You see, we need the alien. Bottom line. You really don't have any say in this matter."

    "Stop this now and we can work something out. When our people get in here, that goes out the window..." Kendra said. It was really more of a warning than an offer.

    Karrie levelled her gun at the Doctor's head. "Shut up! We all know that's a bunch of bull. So save your breath and shut your lying mouth!"

    Christopher stared down the gun barrel, 'I was wrong,' he thought, 'She's certifiable and out of control.'

    "We'll take our Andorian." Ginelli replied and cocked his weapon. "You don't have any say in this."

    "Damn right," Karrie agreed.

    There was a crash into the door, as if someone was attempting to pound on it. "Commander! Are you all right?" yelled a familiar voice through the door. It was Steve.

    "Oh, yeah, Steve, I'm doing just peachy!" she called back sarcastically.

    Karrie walked over to the woman and shoved her gun right in Summers' face. "Quiet," she told her evenly.

    Ginelli eyed Hawkins. "Give us what we want, Major."

    "You know I can't do that, Sergeant." Hawkins replied nonchalantly. "As I sated several times earlier, that would be breaking a direct order."

    "Well, Ginelli," Karrie said, completely ignoring the Major. "How do you want to do this? Take them with us to get our prize or stay here and have the peons bring him to us?"

    "I think we'll use our usual tactic."

    She smiled. "Sounds like a plan to me."

    "You people are running out of time. You have exactly 2 minutes to produce the Andorian, or you all will die in an orderly fashion." Ginelli yelled.

    Kendra sat down in her chair. "I think I'll sit down and make myself comfortable," she muttered. "This could take a little while."

    "You think?" Christopher asked her sarcastically.

    Again there was banging at the door. This time loud voices could be heard on the bridge. Hawkins tossed a glance at his counterparts. "Uh oh, looks like the marines have landed."

    "Sorry Major, but I'm not scared." Ginelli began and looked back at the door. "You have a minute and a half left."

    Karrie kept an eye on the hostages, watching for any sudden moves. "It didn't have to be this way."

    Kendra stared at the woman. "It still doesn't. I told you that."

    "Look, we haven't made it this long by listening to empty promises. You really think we're gonna believe anything you say? I don't think so." the bounty hunter spat out harshly. "One minute!" she yelled for thedoor.

    Hawkins shook his head in shame. "Man are you two sloppy. Just an embarrassment to your line of work."

    "Ginelli, which one are we gonna shoot first?"

    "That is totally up to you, girlie."

    She walked in front of them, slowly but deliberately. I could shoot you..." she said to the Doctor.

    "Lady," Christopher said, "this might surprise you to learn that this isn't the first time I've had a gun to my head. And while you're certainly prettier than the last guy that tried it, you don't scare me at all."

    Karrie smiled, but continued her walk. "Flattery will get you nowhere, Doctor. I could shoot the Major here. It might be fun to see him bleed out on the floor..."

    "Apparently that is what you're going to have to do. I ain't giving you that damn alien." Hawkins shrugged and replied.

    "Or I could shoot you..." Karrie said as she stared at Kendra. "Thirty seconds!" she yelled again.

    "You shoot me, you shoot anyone, and you won't get off this ship alive. Hell you may not get out of this room alive," Kendra growled.

    The bounty hunter shrugged. "Maybe not. But at least I would have satisfaction of knowing that I was taking you with me."

    There was more banging at the door now. Some shouted for them to give up peacefully, but Karrie damn near laughed. "You people never learn, do you? Not all of us are going to assimilate into your society. You think everything is all nice and pretty and everyone will see the way you do. Lemme tell ya, not everyone works that way. You're worse than the damn Borg. At least they are honest about what they do."

    "And you think this is gonna get you anywhere? Fine, you don't like Starfleet. You don't care for the Federation, great. But this is not gonna work. So drop the damn gun and we can talk about this."

    "There will be no talking unless I get my Andorian."

    Kendra groaned. "Then I guess we just won't talk, now will we?"

    "I was hoping you'd say that," Karrie replied with a grin. "Oh, lookie. Time's up." The woman didn't even hesitate as she pulled the trigger.
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    #29
    Chapter 27 - Doctor, Doctor

    Jade had managed to get some sleep, no sooner had she hit the pillow then she'd slept solidly. Waking up she quickly tidied herself up and changed into a new uniform that wasn't all creased. That done she made her way out of her quarters and off to her office.

    Finishing up her work in sickbay, Molly had headed to her quarters and changed out of her uniform and into a simple pair of khakis and a white tank top. She glanced at the chrono: 1500 hours. She still had several hours before she was due to meet Kennedy for dinner, and she had been wanting to meet and greet the counsellor properly, so she figured this was as good a time as any.

    "Computer, locate Lieutenant Jade Taggart," she ordered, picking up a glass of water and glancing over a report that lay on the desk.

    "Lieutenant Taggart is in her office."

    Molly nodded once, more to herself than to the computer, and exited her quarters. She slipped into the turbolift and gave it her destination, and a few moments later was released out onto the appropriate deck.

    In her office, Jade picked up a pad and started writing up her report on Bat'chu and what she'd sensed.

    Molly reached for the comm and signalled the woman inside that she had company, then stepped back a moment until she was invited in. "Come on in," Jade smiled as she looked at Molly. Before a few hours ago she didn't even know the ACMO but she wanted to make new friends.

    Molly smiled at her as she entered. "Hello. I thought maybe we should take the opportunity to meet formally, and maybe spend a few minutes talking, if you've got the time?" Molly smiled pleasantly enough, glancing around the room to see what sorts of things the woman had decorated her office with. But she was still a little restless, and Jade seemed to sense that immediately.

    "Is there something you wanted to talk to me about or is this a social visit?" Jade smiled.

    "Maybe a little of both, actually," she easily admitted, and helped herself to a chair. "I know you've been speaking with Kenn- I mean, Lieutenant Shea about her Betazoid abilities, and I wanted to thank you for that, first of all."

    "There's no need to thank me," she smiled. "it's all a part of who am I and what I do."

    Molly smiled anyway. "Well, take the compliment. She's not one to easily agree to see a counsellor, as I'm sure you've figured, but she understands the need to work with you on this."

    "I'm glad to hear that" Jade sat back in her seat. "Is there something else that's bothering you?"

    Molly continued. "I suppose I just wanted to see what there was about you that she found so intriguing. She says she can already sense a change about herself, and for that I also want to thank you. She's been under a lot of pressure lately, and the tension has really been wearing her down, mentally and physically." Molly sighed, her hands resting in her lap. She fidgeted with her fingernails a bit, then glanced back up to Jade.

    "What?" Jade smiled. "Do you find it so surprising that I just want to help, and not just Shea? If there's something you want to talk to about?" she looked at Molly.

    "I've ... been to a lot of counsellors, these last few years," Molly said softly. "I suppose I can somewhat understand where she's coming from. But - enough of that," she said with a soft grin, that indicated she was done talking about her own problems - at least, for the time being. Given time to adjust to the new counsellor, the Risan would more than likely be using her services herself. "Would you like to have a drink with me, maybe chat a little so we can get to know each other? I'm supposed to meet Kennedy," and this time it came out without apology, "for dinner around 1900 hours, but I've still got a few hours to kill."

    "I still have a few reports to write," Jade held up the padd, "but thanks anyway."

    "You'll have the rest of the evening to write your report," Molly grinned. She didn't want to take no for an answer. "I can be quite the stubborn mule when I set my mind to it. Just a drink - I figure we'll be working together on a great many things in the months - or even years, if we live that long - to come, and we should know each other right off, don't you agree?" Molly smiled sweetly. Yes, she may have been using her Risan nature to flirt just a tad, but it wasn't intended as a come-on. She simply knew how to get what she wanted, and she used what she had to get it.

    "You're not going to take no for an answer are you?" Jade grinned.

    "That I am not," Molly confirmed with a wink.

    "In that case.... I'd love to." She put down the padd on the nearby table. "As you said we do have to work together and I would like us to be friends."

    "Great." Molly grinned, rising to her feet and leading the way to the door. "And ... I would like that too." She smiled softly. The Risan had so few that she called friend, and only one who she confided in. But it was hard to talk to Kennedy when the problem herself *was* Kennedy. Molly instantly decided she liked this woman, liked her enough to talk out problems with and someone with whom she'd have an easy time working. Heading out of Jade's office, they walked and talked.

    "I'm no expert on the training of the Betazoid mind," she looked at Molly. "I understand well enough what Shea is going through because I went through something similar myself when my abilities first developed. I've given her something to read and study for now, all I can do is be there when she needs assistance."

    "Well that's more than the help I can give her," Molly answered softly. Having no empathic or telepathic abilities of her own meant the best help she could provide was book material, which Kennedy was already reading up as quickly as she could find on the ship's computer, and hold her when the headaches grew too unbearable to sleep or work. "Tell me, what is your background with telepathic abilities?"

    "I'm a trained Betazoid and it's still easy for me to be overwhelmed, Shea doesn't have any of the training to help. What she needs to develop most are her mental shields, they keep out all the noise and feelings that we Betazoids pick up."

    Molly chuckled as she entered the turbolift, and moments later the pair were whisked off to the correct deck. "That was my diagnosis, too," Molly winked. Though she had no idea how to help develop those shields, she certainly recognized the immediate need Shea had of them.

    "I'm sorry" Jade grinned. "I'm telling you all this as you're a doctor, you probably know more about it than I do! The mental processes anyway."

    Molly chuckled. "Don't worry about it. I am curious about what you bring to the equation, though, that might be different from other telepaths."

    "I'm different in two ways, first off I'm part Drax and second...." she ran her fingers over her implant over above her right ear. "I have implants which provide a boost."

    Jade smiled as they stood silent for a few moments. As the lift stopped they exited and made their way along to where they could get a drink and talk some more.

    "I guess the main part I bring to this is simply being someone Shea can relate to as having the same abilities." She looked at Molly. "Does it make you feel left out her being able to talk to me regarding developing her abilities?"

    "I suppose just a little," Molly admitted, following along to the bar. "But ..." she softened her voice, and her features. "I really care about her, and I know this is the best way. I can't really give her the sort of help she needs - you can."

    They got themselves drinks before sitting down at a table. Jade took a sip before giving her response.

    "If you want to be there during any sessions I can mention it to Shea, unless you want to ask her yourself."

    "Well..." Molly hesitated. "I don't want to impede her progress. Maybe once she gets a little more practiced at this, then I can come along and see what she's learning?"

    "Fine by me," she nodded. "You'll find it's very easy for Shea to get overwhelmed, she may not even know it's happening until it really impacts on her senses, especially as her abilities aren't that developed. As a doctor you know the only way to get past that is an inhibitor to block the senses."

    "But - you said the shields would do that for her. I didn't think she'd be needing any additional assistance, or medications." Molly frowned as she took her seat. Her drink remained untouched, but she toyed with the colourful glass while she looked straight on at Jade for an answer.

    "Even I have to use inhibitors from time to time, although I don't if I can avoid it." She smiled.

    "Well ... I suppose I'll just have to get some ready for her, just in case." Molly smiled back, and the conversation regarding Shea stopped there. They finished their drinks in an amicable silence before Molly finally stood, thanked Jade for joining her and stated she hoped they could get together again soon. Winking, the Risan made her way to the door to prepare for her dinner with Kennedy.




    Kendra yelped as she was thrown out her chair from the force and landed on the deck, hard. She clutched her arm instinctively, biting back the pain that was currently racing through her body. That, and trying to keep from bleeding all over the floor.

    Hawkins watched Summers fall to the ground. He wanted to help her, but he had to remain neutral. Hell, it was only a flesh wounds. It showed that the hunters were a little hesitant about shooting them. A bounty was one thing, but a couple of murderers they weren't. They were too professional for that. "Doc, please attend to her."

    "Oh, look whose playing Mr. Calm, cool, and collective now." Ginelli called to Hawkins. "Probably think we don't have the balls to kill you. Make no mistake, Major. We will kill you in a heartbeat. We've murdered before and we'll murder again. We're not just hunters, we're hitmen for hire."

    "That, right there, was a warning. If I wanted her dead, she would be cold. Trust me," Karrie told him. "Now, how about that Andorian?"

    Christopher grabbed a med kit from under the table and set to work on Kendra's arm, "How you doing there Commander?"

    Kendra smiled weakly at him. "Oh, I'm doing just peachy, Doc. I've never been shot by a projectile weapon before. You know what?"

    "Is it different then?" Cushing said as he ran his tricorder over the wound. The round had fragmented and left slivers in Kendra's arm.

    "It hurts like hell," she told him, wincing as she tried to sit up.

    "Easy now Kendra." Christopher said as he helped her to her chair, "I've stopped the bleeding for now, but you're going to need to come to sick bay so that I can extract the debris and close the wound completely. Just don't move around too much or it'll start to bleed out again."

    "I'd advise you two to not make another stupid play like that again."

    "I will make Swiss cheese out of her," Karrie warned.

    Ginelli was now at the end of his rope. "You know we're serious, Major. And this game is getting old rather quickly."

    Christopher chimed in. "Well, it seems as though we have reached an impasse. I believe that what the commanders are saying is that you can't have him just yet. They're not saying that you can't have him at all. I'd be happy to compensate you for the inconvenience, would fifty thousand suffice for now?" He looked at the shock on Kendra's face. "I'm rich you see, and I would be more than happy to transfer the money pending an investigation into the Foldor system. You get the money regardless of what we find there. How does that sound?" Appealing to their wallets was the only way out of the situation that he could think of. He hoped to hell that they were the kind of bounty hunters that he had met on previous missions. He leaned back into his chair and waited for their reply.

    Richie's ears perked up. "Say again? You are willing to just pay us off?"

    Karrie eyed the Doctor suspiciously. This sounded too good to be true. Especially since she just shot his commanding officer. "He's lying, Ginelli. Don't listen to him."

    "Wait a second, Karrie. Let the man finish before we decide if he's lying or not."

    Christopher smiled briefly, "I'm not buying you off, I'm buying us some time to investigate the Foldor system."

    "If that's the case, Doctor, I think we'll up the ante to 100,000. There is personal history between the Andorian and us."

    Doing a quick calculation in his head, Christopher nodded, "One hundred thousand then."

    "You're serious? You are really going to give us the money?" Karrie asked, still unsure as to whether she should believe him or not. It was some sort of ruse. It had to be. Didn't it?

    "Of course I'll give you the money. I'm a doctor not a trickster." Cushing replied.

    "What do you think Ginelli?" her gun still trained on the officers.

    "I won't be satisfied until I see cash in front of me." he replied. "Only then will I rest easily."

    Conway smirked. "Show us the money," she told Cushing. "I don't take credit."

    Christopher rose slowly from his seat and tapped a series of commands into a console on the wall.

    =/ Access granted \= came the voice of the computer.

    "Cushing, Christopher. Request immediate transfer of one hundred thousand credits, to be replicated at this location."

    =/ Please wait for retina scan. \=

    A red light pulsed once across his eye, =/ Confirmed Christopher Cushing, authorization to replicate granted \=

    "Thank you." Christopher said as he closed down the link to the private bank. He walked to the replicator, "Computer, replicate one hundred thousand credits, authorization Lt Cmdr Cushing and Ferenginar central bank."

    The replicator hummed into life and a stack of credits appeared, gleaming softly.

    "Computer, erect a level eight forcefield around the replicator." Christopher smiled as the field flashed into life. "Now, do we have a deal?"

    Karrie eyed him, trying to ascertain if he was for real or not. Then she shrugged. "Yeah. Sure."

    Ginelli smiled. Little did they knew, he was not going to honor the agreement. He was smarter then that. "Deal."

    "Of course, you'll have to leave your weapons on the table, but one hundred thousand credits buys a lot of weapons." Bargained Christopher.

    Now this was something he didn't like. Fact of the matter was, Ginelli was quite fond of his pistols. "I think you forgot to remove the forcefield, Doc."

    "I haven't forgotten about the forcefield. Put your weapons down and I'll lower the forcefield, you can leave with your money and spend the rest of the day counting it." Offered Christopher. He quickly looked over to Kendra thinking, 'Got to get her to sickbay quickly otherwise it could get hellishly infected.'

    "By the way," Ginelli began. "What makes us sure that you'll grant us safe passage?"

    Hawkins looked from the hunters, to Summers and Cushing, then back again. "Tell me Summers, are you really that upset about the bullet wound?"

    Kendra jerked to give him a hard, incredulous stare. "Uhm, yeah. I've been shot, moron," she said. Was he serious? "What the hell are you thinking, man?"

    He shrugged and continued looking at the hunters. "I was thinking that our renegade friends here might be useful to us. I think a deal is in order."

    "What? You mean employ them?" Christopher asked.

    "I don't know, Doc. They seem to know their way around the system and they sure as hell know how to handle themselves." Hawkins said. "How would you two feel about doubling your money, plus getting the Andorian in the end?"

    Ginelli smiled wickedly. "I'd feel great about it."

    Christopher winced, while two hundred thousand was just a drop in the ocean, it was still two hundred thousand times more than the bounty hunters were worth. "Excuse me Major," he said calmly, "if you're talking about two hundred thousand of MY money, I want certain things in writing. A legally binding contract which guarantees that these two don't skip out on us and we don't just leave them without their money."

    "I'm sure Section 31 will be more than happy to front us 100,000 credits." Hawkins replied to Cushing. "Hell, they might even offer more."

    "Hey, doll, money is money. I'll sign what you want. As long as I get paid," Karrie said. "Now, what do you want from us?"

    "Right now," Kendra yelled from the floor, "I want you out of my ready room so I can get my ass to sickbay and get this bullet out of my arm!"

    "Yeah...." Karrie said and leaned over the desk to peer at the fallen Commander. "Sorry about that. Nothing personal, ya know."

    Kendra wasn't even mildly amused. "Hawkins, unlock the damn door and get them out of here." She winced as the pain suddenly increased in her arm. "Now."

    Curt made his way forward to the door and reconnected the two wires that Karrie had cut. Suddenly the door opened.

    Steve burst into the room with the marines and shoved his way towards his friend. "Kendra! Are you alright?"

    "No."

    He turned and pointed his phaser at the bounty hunters. "Want me to escort them to the brig?" Steve really wanted that honour.

    "Escort them to their room," Kendra told him.

    "What?"

    Karrie smiled and pushed his phaser away from them. "Hey, watch where you point that thing. You could poke someone's eye out, ya know."

    Ginelli turned to Hawkins. "You have a deal, Major. We are at your service."

    Hawkins nodded. "Indeed you are. I'll send for you later so that we can discuss the mission."

    Christopher looked at Steve, "I need to get her to sick bay Steve, she's in a hell of a lot of pain."

    "They shot you! Why are you going to give them back their room? They belong in the cell next to the Andorian!" Steve cried.

    "And that is why I want them AWAY from the Andorian." Kendra growled. "If they are in the same room, they could break out of their cell and kill him. And we need him. So we're keeping them separate. Is that clear, Lieutenant?"

    Steve stiffened at the sound of his rank being used so formally. "Yes, ma'am."

    Ginelli smiled evilly at Hollins and walked slowly out of the room, eyeing the security guard the entire time.

    "Awwww... Don't look so disappointed, copper. Now you get to see more of me," Karrie told him cheerily as they headed out the door.

    "You think there's something Steve isn't telling us?" Christopher asked Kendra.

    "Get this goddamn piece of metal out of my arm, Doc" Kendra hissed through clenched teeth.

    Holding up his hands in surrender, Christopher said, "I'll excuse your bad mood due to the fact that you've just been shot. If you're ready I'll have us beamed to sickbay. I don't want you walking around making that wound open again and I doubt that the crew should see you like that either."

    Kendra shot him a 'shut up and get me out of here' look.

    Christopher tapped his comm badge, "Cushing to transporter room one, beam myself and Commander Summers directly to sickbay."

    =/ Acknowledged, stand by \=

    "Shall I give the word to head to the Foldor system?" Christopher asked, "It's an awfully long way from here and we have to get there in two days."

    "That'll be good, Doc. I'd appreciate it." Hawkins replied. "I really need to go over the mission in my UFMC log."

    The transporter beam glowed around Kendra and Cushing and they vanished as the glow slowly faded from the room.
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    #30
    Chapter 28 - Ghosts

    Christopher glanced at the duty roster as he worked on Kendra's arm, "Cushing to Helm."

    Ivy, paused to hitting his comm badge as a message came through, "Ivy here, Doc."

    "Ivy, we need to be in the Foldor system in just under two days. Can we do it?" Cushing asked.

    Ivy looked at her console biting her tongue. "Yes, we can do it if we maintain a speed of warp eight."

    "Really? Okay then, warp eight it is then. When we're underway can you liase with Lt Longsmith to try and reduce the ship's profile even more? We need to be invisible when we arrive in system."

    Ivy nodded lightly, even though he knew nods couldn't be heard. "Yes sir, I'll do that."

    "Thanks Ivy." Christopher looked at the tricorder, "You're all done commander, I want you to take the next couple of days off. You're probably going to feel run down and ill as your body works to fight infection. I've given you an antibiotic to help so enjoy your time off."

    Kendra mumbled some insult about Christopher's ancestors and swept out of sick bay, still upset about being shot. Christopher sighed and tapped his commbadge, "Cushing to Gordon."

    =/ Go ahead \=

    "Tawnia, I'm going to my quarters to get insanely drunk, care to join me?" Cushing asked.

    =/ Be right there Doc. \=

    Christopher stretched and yawned, "Amanda, I'm going off duty. Anything happens, use Natalya."

    Amanda smiled, "Sure thing, go get drunk and fool around."

    Christopher walked out of sick bay whistling cheerfully as he headed for his quarters.




    Steve was rooting around in the readyroom that Kendra and Hawkins shared, searching for some data PADDs that Kendra would need. Doctor Cushing had successfully managed to remove all of the bullet fragments from her arm, but had restricted her duties. Actually, he told her to take the next couple of days off, right in time to make the Andorian's rendezvous. Steve couldn't help but smile at that thought. What he would have done to manage to be a fly on the wall when he told her that. Kendra, no doubt, went through the roof.

    But, as always, Kendra found a slight way around things. She may not be able to be on the bridge, actually doing anything heavy duty, but there was no stopping her from reading over some data PADDs. Especially since he had just been informed that they had a last minute arrival. Now if he could only find that damn PADD....




    Magnus eased the shuttle out of warp, smiling to himself. He and Evelyn had made record time by altering the ship intermix ratio. According to his readings, the engines were at 102% efficiency, a full 1% above spec. It felt good to be tinkering around with warp drives again. Patting Evelyn gently, he opened a comm channel to the Apocalypse. "USS Apocalypse this is Lt Magnus Darque requesting permission to approach".

    =/ Roger, Lt. Set course 115 mark 060. We'll rendezvous in two minutes, Apocalypse out \=

    Setting course for the rendezvous, Magnus rubbed his hands together. He had been handed the specs to the Apocalypse days before. It was an engineers dream, twin MARA's and lots of other more classified toys for Evelyn and him to play with. His smile grew as he came within visual range of the ship. Sleek as a shark and dark grey, she sat waiting for his shuttle to dock. Easing the shuttle into the already packed bay, he shut down the engines. He stood up, straightened the uniform that he hadn't worn in years and cracked open the hatch.

    A crewman stepped over, "Lt Darque? May I take your bags sir? Your quarters are on deck 7, section 10. The commander is indisposed at the moment, but both the XO and the Co-captain are available."

    "I've been going over the specs, tell me more about this co-captaincy".

    "Yes sir," the crewman replied, "we have an unusual command structure on board. See, we're a joint operation, so both starfleet and the marines have equal command of the vessel. It takes a bit of getting used to but we've managed so far."

    "I see", said Magnus, "well perhaps you could direct me to the XO first, he can fill me in the the shipboard protocols before I report to the captain."

    "Aye sir, I just saw the Doc leave sick bay. If you're quick you can catch him." Replied the man, scurrying away with Magnus' luggage.




    Christopher stood patiently waiting for the turbolift to arrive. Several crew members were giving him strange looks and laughing quietly in a sinister fashion. He sighed, nothing stayed secret on this ship for long. The doors opened and he stepped inside, "Deck four." He said calmly, thinking about the huge drink he'd be enjoying in a few minutes. As the doors were closing, a man carrying a spanner leaped into the turbolift and doubled over, gasping for air.

    Christopher raised an eyebrow, this was new, "Do you always carry a large tool around?" he asked the man seriously, "NO! Don't even think of answering that."

    Magnus gulped for air again and straightened up trying to compose himself. He stared at the face of the man in the turbolift. It was a face from the past, a past that he was trying hard to forget. "Christopher? I mean Sir, I mean What?" he blurted, "What are you doing here?"

    Christopher blanched as he saw the man's face. Confusion nearly overwhelmed him, "Magnus?" he asked.

    "None other," smiled Magnus, quickly overcoming his initial surprise, "God it's good to see a familiar face. All I've had is shadows pushing from one place to the next, rushing me onto a shuttle like the universe depended on me getting here yesterday."

    "Stars above," Christopher laughed, "I haven't seen you since the Nightingale picked us up. We'll talk more over a drink and you can tell me what you've been up to."
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