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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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