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Kali Nicholotti

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Posts posted by Kali Nicholotti

  1. ((Main Engineering, USS Columbia))

    Breeman: What do you make of this data Ben?

    ::Ben glanced over at the console. Stresses were growing all over hull, that much was clear. But rather than the typical rainbow of colors indicating wide regions of stresses, it was a chicken-pocked ship; flaring red indicators each only a few meters wide were popping up in fields of low stress areas – each an indicator of another attack incoming. ::

    Livingston: Looks like this has only just begun. Can we seal off any of these compartments?

    ::But before they could talk further, Ben pointed out another hull breach. Looking at the data from the hull breach it looked like it was still quite small -- not large enough for a dragon to make it


    Breeman: I'm compensating!

    ::He tapped a command and a magnetic arc fired across the hull.::

    Breeman: Hopefully that will make it think twice about coming in...

    Livingston: Hope is good, but I’d rather hope and a plan. We need more data!


    Livingston: =/\= Thought you might want to know, they captured one of these things. You might want to take a look. I know I do. =/\=

    Nevarass: =/\= I certainly do. Is the dragon secured?

    ::That was an excellent question. Knowing next to nothing about the things, not understanding their strength or abilities or intelligence, how was it that he could tell the ensign that it was secured? Was it not just as likely that the dragons had the crew “secured”?::

    Livingston: =/\= Uh – officially no. Proceed at your own risk. And bring security. =/\=

    :: As she listened to Livingston’s response, Allie glanced at B’Sara.

    She didn't want B'Sara to worry, so she mustered a small smile. ::

    Nevarass: =/\= I see. Well, I’m headed to the Bridge, now. Maybe we can figure out a way to tell our dragon visitors to stop attacking us, if they’re sentient. Unless we can find a way to communicate, we might have to face the possibility of destroying them all.

    Livingston: ::raising eyebrows:: =/\= I’m not sure destroying them is a possibility. ::pause:: But communication would be the best way to stem any slaughter.=/\=

    Nevarass: =/\= Agreed. That would be most unfortunate. For all we know, these may be the last of dragon-kind in the universe. Has anyone tried to communicate with them telepathically? Such a method would make sense, evolutionarily speaking.

    ::That kernel of xenophobia that lived inside everyone as a defensive mechanism had apparently been at work in Ben. He hadn’t much considered the prospect of them communicating, let alone a capability to communicate with other species. And yet, the ensign’s open-mindedness had led her to a conclusion that was quite probable.::

    Livingston: =/\= Because they live in a vacuum? Very insightful! I suppose that would be a likely solution. Well – let’s get to it then.

    Best of luck.=/\=

    Nevarass: =/\= Right, sir. Almost to the Bridge. Nevarass out.

    ((End Flashback))

    ::It wasn’t long after that another hull breach turned up, taking Ben’s attention as he monitored it. He nearly dispatched an engineering team before remembering the futility – and the danger – of doing so. Instead, he sealed off what he could. Anything that slowed these creatures down would help them have a better solution in place when it was finally time.::

    ::Ben was about to report another breach when the ceiling nearly came crashing down around him. Steam, conduit, and shrieking jaws exploded down into the room just meters away, knocking him (thank goodness) to the ground.::

    :: And then he watched Kevin Breeman, the ship’s nurturer and protector, charge towards it with terror and fury in his eyes.::

    Breeman: Kill it!!

    ::Shocked, Ben looked around. He had no phaser; even if he had, was killing it a possibility?::

    Livingston: We need a plan!

    ::Kevin’s weapon fire only enraged it, but still the engineer persisted in engaging it in combat, a modern day St. George defending his people. The beast showed no pity, no reservations – it sought only to consume as it was itself consumed by hatred::

    ::But Kevin would be destroyed by this, if Ben stayed put, sheltered by a console that was now half separated from the floor plating, exposing cables that had begun to arc intermittently. And yet that hazard seemed much preferable to the one involving dragon slaying. And yet … He raised his eyebrows in surprise.::

    Livingston: It’s okay – I have a plan!

    ::Lifting himself from the floor, Ben dashed around the corner and into full view of the beast. It had moved from its original point of entry, but it would still be close. Ahead of him, Kevin had its full attention, allowing Ben to jump up and grab one of the cables still swaying as it hung from the cavity above. He held onto it as it swung him along the wing-crested back of the animal. From this vantage point, he hoped to find some point of weakness, but he was moving too quickly. Near the end of its stroke, the human pendulum let go and threw himself over the upper deck rail.::

    ::Sitting there was precisely what he had hoped to find – a EPS tap cable. Plugging it into the system, he rushed back toward the creature and using the rail as a jumping off point, leapt onto the thing’s back, holding the cable as a dagger to pierce through its armored


    ::Ben could not tell at first if it had made a difference, but soon the wings convulsed and it tried to throw him off. As it tried to reach him, Ben saw Kevin regaining his footing and take a defensive stance, but not once did the Chief Engineer cease his attack.::

    Orman: FIRE!!

    :: Katy’s voice filled the air, a tremendous relief. But when it dawned on him that he might be caught in the line of fire should it turn and expose him, Ben leapt back to the floor, still holding the cable but no longer within striking distance.::

    ::He dragged it along the floor as he fought to rejoin the security team, dodging wingtips and claws as he moved. He reached Katy first.::

    Livingston: ::shouting:: Nice of you to stop by!

    Orman: ::shouting as well, to be heard over the phasers and shrieking:: Report!

    Livingston: Breeman’s been at it for nearly a minute. I hoped EPS would do the job, but I think it’s just angrier now. Have you had luck elsewhere?

    Orman: ::still shouting as she tracked her target and attempted to put a bolt into it:: Killed one. Takes a lot. Would love to chat, but kind of busy! Kevin's bleeding, call Medical!


    Lieutenant, J.G. Ben Livingston

    Assistant Chief Engineer

    Starbase 118 Ops / USS Victory (Columbia)

  2. ((Breeman Residence - Earth))

    ::Patri was gone. Jan sat at the edge of the young woman's bed and
    wondered. Why had she been out so late like that the other night? Why had
    she said Kevin would be alright with such odd certainty?::

    ::The clock had just struck seven AM and Alvin was already outside, pacing
    the deck wondering what to do next. Had she run away? She hadn't seemed
    terribly angry with her. Why would she break the law like that when she'd
    been proving herself now to be such an upstanding citizen?::

    ((Dreamscape - Patri's Mind))

    ::She's outside the house again, the dark figure looming in the distance
    down the straight snowy path. The moon overhead looks at her surprised to
    see her out like this. As she approaches the man and finds only a long
    tree trunk where she'd previously met Kevin the other night she shivers.
    Beneath her feet the snow crunches softly as she walks through the
    otherwise silent night.::

    ::Looking down she lets her mind drift through the sparkling stars in the
    snow as the ice crystals pick up the moonlight. If she moves her head or
    her body just right some of the stars come on and others turn off. Swaying
    slowly to let one particular star switch on and off she barely notices the
    mountains forming in her patch of milky white space on the ground. Soon
    they have mountain tops that shine brilliantly. And then shadows, as the
    light shines on her. She looks up. There's a doorway standing in front of

    ::Blinking she wonders if she's ended up in front of someone's house.
    Suddenly self conscious she prepares her best explanation. I'm sorry sir,
    I was just out for a midnight stroll. I didn't mean to walk onto your

    ::No one's there. It's just a door in the snow, in front of a pair of
    trees. She steps forward.::

    ((Breeman Residence - Earth))

    Alvin: Did you hear anything last night?

    Jan: No...

    ::She sighed.::

    Alvin: She was doing so well. And now this!??

    Jan: You don't know that she ran away.

    Alvin: What else could this be?

    ::She looked at him, trying to calm him down. Should she tell him about
    the incident the other night? Should she tell him she was starting to see
    aspects of Kevin in her?::

    Alvin: What? What is it?

    Jan: ::Quietly:: I saw her outside the other night night.

    ((Dreamscape - Patri's Mind))

    ::Patri recognizes Jan speaking softly with Alvin in her room. In Kevin's
    room. The whole thing seems so real. She runs a finger along the spine of
    a book and she lets it gently slide and then fall over on his bookshelf.
    Jan's upset. Alvin's angry. Disappointed. Did she read that on his face

    ::She walks a little closer to the point her nose is almost between the
    husband and wife as they speak.::

    Alvin: So you think she left last night?

    ::Sighing, Jan says,::

    Jan: I don't know. I wasn't sure how to tell you about this but... Well
    there it is.

    ::Patri blinks, lays a hand down on Jan's shoulder.::

    Jan: I wish she'd stop tugging at me like that.

    ::Her voice is muffled, strange.::

    Alvin: It's never fair when she does that.

    ::She pats her hand atop Alvin's head, as the room fades from view into the
    darkness that's always been there.::

    Alvin: Come on..... ::The voice fades.::

    ((Breeman Residence - Earth))

    Alvin: So you think she left last night?

    Jan: I don't know. I didn't think it was if she went for the occasional
    walk. Kevin did it and I got used to it.

    ::Sighing, Alvin said,::

    Alvin: Then we're just going to have to call the police. I'm sorry, but
    she's technically violating the terms of her release.

    ::Jan nodded and said,::

    Jan: I know..

    ::Behind them the room was silent, save for the sound of something small
    slipping on one of Kevin's old bookshelves.::

    ((Patri's Perspective))

    ::She's sitting in a wing chair now, her head resting on the cushions. How
    long was she asleep? In front of her is another chair, along with a sofa.
    Standing she approaches the door. Turning the handle she steps out into a
    street made of shining brass. Beneath her feet several clear papers drift
    by, carried by wind from the sun that hangs directly above.

    The door behind her closes and a building that casts no shadow stands above
    her, two lonely windows separated by a gulf of decaying wall peering dimly
    out into the city street.::

    ::She turns to her left and gasps. There's no horizon. The street rolls
    up toward her. She turns to run to escape it only to be confronted with
    the very same landscape that threatens to envelop her on the other side.
    Nothing is flat. She's perpetually falling forward. No. She's standing
    straight up while the ground rushes to catch her but never succeeds.::

    Patri: What the hell?

    ::She looks down at her feet picks up a sheet of clear paper and tries to
    read the writing that flickers on and off. The gentle breeze tosses her
    long brown hair that catches the light of the sun in the center of her

    Patri Jia Kom
    Former Computer Hacker

    As simmed by

    Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Breeman
    Chief Engineer
    Starbase 118

  3. I have a problem with creating another committee...there are a lot of teams we have now that don't have enough members or high enough levels of participation as it is. Creating something else that requires a group of people is only asking for other things to be put by the wayside. I'd much rather keep this the way it is, with the runoff rounds like we had this year, and see officers participating in the Publicity team, podcast team, training team, or the new Social Media team (or any of the other teams), all of which are going to help the fleet expand and grow.

    To reiterate what was said before, if it's not broken...why try fix it? Let's not cut off our nose to spite our faces...

    I realize more participation in the voting would be nice, so maybe we can work on publicizing the voting periods or something like that instead of tying up more resources in another committee?

    And that is just my thoughts. =) Not saying the committee wouldn't work or is a bad idea, but I just don't think we have the resources in people and availability to swing that as it stands...

    • Like 3

  4. OOC Note: 'Hope' is the doctor's therapy dog...just to avoid confusion. =)

    ((USS Victory/ outside Sickbay))

    ::Joseph Dubeau had stood outside sickbay, working out what he would say if he saw her. How could he face her; after the altercation, the way he hurt her on the bridge.::

    ::After mustering up his courage and having the pain in his nose intensify, he put his chin up and marched into sickbay. Being prepared to see her with his chest out and his head held high in a way that showed no weakness. He found no one in sickbay, looking around to make sure before he let his body go back to normal.::

    oO Huh, no one to be seen, even Johanna isn't here.Oo

    :;He was about to leave when he heard the familiar jingling of a collar. He turned to see Hope running towards him. Being so happy to see any association to Johanna, he forgot his dislike for dogs and knelt down to pick her up.::

    :: Hope wringled and wagged her tail so hard, she almost lost her balance and her feet skittered on the slick floor.::

    Hope: Oo Mr. Scary Shoes! I missed you! You leave a big hole in the pack when you're not here now. Oh, oh, you're picking me up! I love to be held; you're getting to like me! Maybe it wasn't an accident that you dropped that great piece of meat at the picnic. Oh, you're back; my mom is going to be so happy. I just have to kiss you. Just a little lick on the side of your face.Oo ::Sniffing:: Oo You smell like you are hurting; there was blood on your face not long ago. You should be curled up in a ball sleeping.Oo

    ::After receiving a few kisses from Hope he looked to see Johanna starring at him from inside her office.::

    ::Johanna had heard the skitter of Hope's feet and the light jingle of her ID tag as she was obviously in a run somewhere. She did not normally run in the Sickbay, so stood up from her desk to see what had caused the well behaved dog to bolt from her office. She stopped abruptly when she saw Dubeau cuddling her little Maltese, who looked particularly small held in his arms. She quickly looked for another doctor who could help him before remembering that she had sent Dr. Baker and the others off duty for some well deserved rest. She'd given up trying to sleep herself since each time she closed her eyes, she would see Dubeau's eyes staring at her on the bridge. Now she found herself looking into the very eyes she'd been trying to avoid.::

    ::After a long stare between them, Joseph, starring into her beautiful black eyes, finally spoke.::

    Dubeau: You mentioned that I should get my nose fixed.

    MacLaren:: nodding and trying not to allow her emotions to show.:: Aye, it must be verra painful and the swelling must be affecting your ability to breathe. It should have been treated many hours ago. Oo He doesna want me to touch him, but there is no good doctor here now. Still, he's made it clear enough how he feels. Oo Eh'm sorry; Eh'm the only regular doctor here; Eh can call up an EMH. They are verra competent.Oo.

    Dubeau: ::Looking at the sadness in her eyes, he could see she wanted to avoid him. However, he hated EMH's, if it came to that he would simply leave.:: Well, if you're busy, I could leave, I just don't like those holodoctors.

    MacLaren: Of course, Eh can fix it. Eh was under the impression that ye didna want that. Eh might have done it hours ago.

    ::She pulled her eyes away from his and looked at Hope. The dog was looking up at Dubeau bright eyed with her tail hanging down waving like a fan. It was not like Hope to fail to sense that a person holding her was hostile to Johanna.::

    Dubeau: Thank you Jo... ah, doctor.

    :: Not having any idea why she had been so angry before and why she did not want to treat him now; he wasn't sure using her given name was appropriate.::

    ::Hope's eyes darted from her human to Mr. Scary Shoes. The pack was together but there were no happy smells coming from either one. Each smelled like a strange mixture of fear and pain. The dog looked around but could see no danger.::

    Hope: Oo This is all confusing! What has happened to the pack? I don't understand. Mr. Scary Shoes is hurting; maybe that is it.Oo

    MacLaren:Oo Doctor! He canna even say my name. Am Eh such a freak that he canna even put my name on his lips?Oo We can work over there. Eh'll need to get some equipment. Eh hope that my dog isna bothering you.

    Dubeau: No, no she isn't. oO She's the only creature in this room who wants something to do with me.Oo

    ::Joseph sat down on the biobed and watched Johanna collect her supplies. He noticed that Hope was trying to cuddle into him more and more as the tension grew inside him.::

    Hope: Oo You'll be alright; mom will fix you. What is wrong? I'd better give him a grin and a tail wag to make him feel better. Good therapy dogs do that. ::Her tail waves again.:: Oo He's not looking. His snout sure looks bad.Oo

    Dubeau: I'm sorry to bother you in this way, I know I'm the person you least want to see; but, I figured that I shouldn't leave my nose until tomorrow.

    oO Don't mention the pain, she doesn't care about that anyway. Be a marine Joseph.Oo

    ::MacLaren raised her eyes to his in shock that he'd say that when it was he who had rejected her. She lowered them to her instruments and spoke in a very low voice.::

    MacLaren: You seem to be confusing your feelings with mine. Eh went to the bridge, and you preferred the pain of these wounds to the contamination of my touch.

    ::The shock of her answer jolted him out of his personae. He was shocked that she saw her behaviour in that light.::

    ::She moved towards him with a tray of instruments.::

    Dubeau: Look, doctor we both know how you see me and what we had, so let's get this done, ok?
    Hope:: giving a low whine:: Oo What is the matter? If they had normal hair like other dogs, it would be standing up on their necks!Oo

    MacLaren: Are ye telling me how to practice medicine now, Lt. Dubeau? Ye seem to think that ye ken my mind, now ye think ye ken my profession? This canna be rushed. It is going to be harder than it would have been hours ago. Eh'm nae some butcher; Eh dinna want ye to be hurt any more than ye are, so this will take a certain amount of time. Eh promise not to contaminate you with some disgusting hybrid condition. The things ye find so repulsive about me are nae catching!

    ::Joseph's anger grew to full, the fact that she was downplaying her behaviour by downplaying his character was childish in his view.::

    ::Hope began to tremble in Joseph's arms::

    Hope: Oo Biting!They'll be biting soon! Oh, do humans' bite?Oo

    Dubeau: ::raising voice:; You're not going to shift blame by implying I'm some kind of small minded, uncaring, idiot. You're the one who lost your temper and stormed out. Are you sure I'm the one with the problem, you seem to be more sensitive about your heritage then I am. ::Joseph watched her squirm and start to talk.:: Oh no, I'm not done yet, if you're so sensitive that you can't stand being questioned then it's your problem. :: At this point the emotions and pain took over and a tear began running down his cheek.:: I love you, but you need to look at your own insecurities; if I can't ask questions about our future, then that implies a future I don't want.

    ::Joseph became aware of poor Hope shaking in his arms.::

    ::Hope began to pant and whine with fear::

    Hope: Oo Shouting humans bad! Like growling! Bad smells! Fighting in the pack is so bad!Oo

    MacLaren: Dinna shout! Ye are scaring her!

    ::Johanna took the trembling dog and holding her. She looked back shocked by both the tears in Joseph's eyes and his words.They were completely at odds with his actions.::

    MacLaren: Eh didna call you an idiot. Eh said Eh didna want to hurt you by rushing, Eh tried to help you on the bridge and ye turned your back on me as if the verra thought of my being near you was worse than what ye were suffering! You tell me not to be sensitive about my heritage after how ye reacted when Eh tried to explain! Eh was so in love with you, feeling so safe and excited by your touch that Eh was afraid the shields Eh use not to hear thoughts would fail, Instead of taking a risk of violating your privacy...because it so important to you, Eh told you of my past. You said we couldna be together! Just that simply, and ye've treated me like a leper ever since!

    ::Tears rolled down her cheeks now as the little dog in her arms whined again, her ears trembling like feathers in a wind.::

    MacLaren: Eh didna lose my temper! Eh felt the anger in you roll over me so hot that it burned. Ye canna begin to know what it is like to be a betazoid who canna use her telepathy, who even must guard against empathy. It is like being a blind person in a room full of rubble trying to feel your way around without your most basic senses. When ye first said how you needed privacy, Eh've shielded every thing when Eh'm with you, but at the verra first word that Eh might fail in that, ye told me we couldna be together and all the shields in the world couldna prevent me from feeling your anger. Eh left because it was so painful to have the man Eh loved so much look at me that way, direct all that anger for something Eh canna help!

    ::She reached out hesitantly and touched the tears on his cheeks.::

    MacLaren: Eh canna understand you at all. Ye tell me we have no future and break my heart; ye turn your back on me on the bridge, tell me ye dinna want to be here even to have your nose fixed and then shout about our future? What future? You act as if ye hate me!

    ::Joseph's tried his best to decipher the rant he just heard. His emotions were running at double speed along with pain from his nose. He stood up and moved in closer to the two that he cared for.::

    Dubeau: T'ecoute pas, ma belle. (OOC translation 'You don't listen my lovely')
    I never said we couldn't be together, I asked if we could ever together. :: Joseph looked in to her eyes.:: What you mistook for anger was confusion and to be honest, sexual desires. The reason I didn't want treatment was because I wanted to see the mission to it's end, ::taking her by the shoulders:: to make sure those that I love made it home safely.

    MacLaren:: stunned and searching his face for the clues that she was so poor at reading when shielded.:: Those you love? Ye still love me? Ye didna say we couldna be together? Eh thought ye were horrified that Eh could know your thoughts and feelings!

    Dubeau: I don't have anything to hide from you, I love you; but, I need you to understand, I'm a marine, I have a strong sense of propriety; when I'm on duty that overrides my personal feelings.

    MacLaren::Putting her hand ever so gently on his cheek:: Ye endured this to see us home! Oh, Joseph, Eh thought ye couldna bear for me to touch you. Eh'm so sorry!

    Hope::Oo Smells are changing again! Humans are so confusing. Why can't they be simple like dogs?Oo

    ::Joseph took Johanna in his arms and moved in to kiss her. The anger and frustration now gone, all he felt was love for these two beings. When, he touched his nose to her however, he recoiled from the pain.::

    Dubeau: Ummm... my nose is still broken. ::laughing::

    MacLaren:: biting her lip to keep from laughing too.::Eh can fix that, ye poor thing.

    ::She gently touched her lips to his cheek tasting the salt of his tears. She had his permission now, and she lowered her shields closing her eyes as a warm river of engulfed her carrying her away with a powerful current of his emotions. She looked up at him with a smile.::

    MacLaren: Eh've been told that Eh'm particularly good with a bone regenerator. With cartilage, the sensation of healing it can be verra, verra pleasant.

    Hope: oO Oh wow, wanting to mate smells!Oo

    1st Lt. Joseph Dubeau
    Marine Pilot/SAR Team Lead
    Starbase 118/USS Victory


    Lt.JG Johanna MacLaren
    Starbase 118/USS Victory.

    • Like 1

  5. Tokyo Airfield, Japan, Stardate 238912.29

    The cold night air made the slim Starfleet Captain pull the old Russian military jacket closer as she left the shelter of the empty pilot's lounge and made her way out onto the tarmac. The runway lit up the darkness in the distance, but only the moon above offered light by which she made her way out to the sleeping beast that sat waiting. The barely used airport, a remnant of a time long before transporters and shuttlecraft, was desolate and silent. But for the raven haired command officer, nowhere else in the world felt so much like home.

    Ahead, only the hard edges of the metallic creature shone in the paleness of the moonlight, reminding her of many nights when she was a child. The simple trek from the building to the exposed tarmac where the plane sat was one she'd made many times as a child, always with one hand gripping her helmet, and the other pulling excitedly on her grandfather's much larger hands. In the silence, she could almost hear his deep laugh on the tendrils of winter wind that whipped around her as she pulled her fur-lined hood down and replaced it with a helmet eerily reminiscent of days long gone.

    In the darkness, she walked up to the sleeping beast as if intimately acquainted with it and, without sight, pulled off one glove and reached out a hand to touch the tip of the wing. Beneath her bare fingers, the metal was ice cold and quiet. None of the telltale vibrations moved through it as they did when the beast was brought to life. For now, it slept, silent, but it wasn't always that way...

    Somewhere Over the Persian Gulf, March 20th, 2003, 03:24 UTC (10:24 PM EST)

    It was still early in the morning, local time, but he'd already been awake for well over three hours. With orders that had been pending, John was just one of the many pilots that would be leaving the Abraham Lincoln aboard their steel birds on a mission that would change history that day. The President of the United States had given an ultimatum to the leader of the oil rich nation, an ultimatum that gave only 48 hours for the man and his sons to leave the country, or face war. That 48 hours came, and passed, without word from the tyrant that it had been destined for.

    And so, about an hour after the deadline was gone, John found himself in the air with his brothers, in a tight formation heading straight into the teeth of the middle eastern monster.

    The morning had been unlike any other, and as they throttled towards the landmass in their state of the art F/A-18F SuperHornet fighters, they each had a chance to run through the briefings and their own thoughts in their minds over and over again. As for the cogitation in his mind, he found himself looking at the small picture of his newborn child that he kept in the [...]pit. She was the future and his entire reason for doing what he did. A small smile appeared on his face as he looked up at the HUD and saw the edge of the sand fast approaching. It was only then that the words of their commander and the orders given at the briefing came to mind. Seconds later, his radio burst to life.

    They were here and it was time to rain hellfire down on the nation that defied the world. For freedom, for life, and for the safety of his and many other children like her around the world. Giving her one more glance, he switched his mind into 'go' mode and followed his team lead in a banking maneuver that would take his group to their specified targets.

    Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, July 10th, 2025

    The world was quickly descending into chaos.

    Following the little known battles fought on the frontiers of science over genetics and the very soul of human beings, governments from nations around the world were taking stands on various belief platforms and arguing over questions that would have no clean answers. It was those questions, and the lack of flexibility in belief sets, that would ultimately lead the world into chaos. Indeed, it was a fight that would come to a head only a year later, but even then, in 2025, the man in the flight suit could see it coming.

    Making his way out to the tarmac, and looking at the jet that sat there waiting for him, he wondered what it had been like to live even twenty years prior. Was the world a different place then? What about twenty years before that? Was there ever a time when the threat of war didn't loom over them all? Pulling the helmet over his head and climbing up the ladder of the jet, he finally answered his own questions; perhaps not. If the war machine he was climbing into now was any indication, then the threat of war had always been present.

    The only difference was that now the battle had been taken to a global scale. It was no longer black against white, or nation against nation. The lines had been drawn in the figurative sand and labels had become ambiguous. Where once it had been simple to see the uniform and identify which side a person was on, this new battle would be waged where there was no clarity. It was human against human, with the reasoning lost somewhere within the indeterminate ideals of the flawed, human mind.

    But what could be done? Ultimately, humans would always be humans. As the jet powered up around him, he thought of the days long past when this machine struck fear into the hearts of its enemies. Now it was bound for someone's private hangar. Time marched on, and the tools changed, but it would always be the same. Fear would always be used against humanity and war would always loom; it was just the face of that war that changed. What once was a weapon that would cause death by the hundreds became what caused death by the thousands. Thousands became millions, and now, as humanity gained a solid foothold in science and learned how to split atoms at their core, millions became the whole [...] world.

    Throttling into the air, he couldn't think about it any longer. With a global community armed with nukes, the next war would be the last war. The next war would be the end of it all. With the knowledge he had, though being reduced to a transfer pilot for old, retired aircraft, he was well aware that the next war, ever looming on the horizon, would bring humanity to its very knees.

    And yet, no matter how horrible the picture warned society, it would come.

    Severomorsk, Former Russian Republic, November 9th, 2155

    The dust still covered the box, and the paperwork within, that represented the greatest birthday present that the young Alexi could ever remember getting. He had just turned twenty-one and had graduated from flight school just a month before. One hundred twenty nine years after the horrific war that had wiped out entire countries and entire generations, things certainly looked different than they had when this paperwork had been signed. But the fact that it had survived changed his life. Having a mild obsession with anything that flew for as long as he could remember, Alexi had a special place in his heart for the ancient flying machines of Earth before the war tore the planet apart.

    Now, he actually found himself owning one.

    It had been a surprising turn of events that had led him to the knowledge of the jet fighter that had almost been lost to time. An old box somehow made its way into the hands of a family friend, whose family had lived near the Polyarny District since before the third world war. The box had been kept safe, far from the chaos that raged in more 'civilized' places in the world. Now that there was peace, it was time that it was remembered. And remembered it was; as if fate had destined for this moment to come, the box was discovered in a wall during the renovation of the oldest part of the house.

    Quickly, the box was opened as if treasure lay within, but the treasure was something no one ever quite expected. Inside, a few sheets of old, browned paper that was falling apart was all that was found. Carefully, they were unfolded and a name appeared.

    Salvatore Nicholotti.

    Now, as Alexi Nicholotti, the descendant of the man who had come to the frigid north to escape the chaos and the war, ran through the snow towards the dilapidated building that was supposed to house the great machine, he found himself thanking both the past and fate for bringing this into his hands. Still unbelieving, he couldn't wait to actually see if what was on the paper was reality, so when he got to the door and found it rusted closed, he began to throw himself against it until it began to move. Again and again, with his adrenaline pumping and keeping him far warmer than should have been possible, Alexi put everything he had into breaking down the door.

    Then finally it came clambering down, with Alexi on top of it, kicking up a ton of dust in its wake. Immediately he broke into a rather nasty fit of coughing, which ultimately caused tears to form in his eyes, but his excitement was too great for him to stop and recover. Still coughing, and waving the dust from the air directly in front of him, the man stepped further into the hangar. To his dismay, light was streaming in through the roof, having partially collapsed. It rested on the vertical stabilizers of a dark grey plane just like those he had read about in history class. The light filtered through the dust, which began to settle, and soon he could see the outline of the beast.

    A huge grin appeared on his face and he was unable to stop himself from moving forwards. It was, even with the damage done to the aft end of it, the most amazing thing he'd ever seen. He'd have to have it restored, but it would be worth everything he put into it. Even now, covered with a thick layer of dust and missing parts that had deteriorated over the years, Alexi couldn't help the childish excitement from welling up inside. How many of these existed in the world was anyone's guess, but he figured it couldn't be many. Now, one of them was his.

    Walking up to it, he pulled a glove from his hand and ran his fingers along the cold, dust covered metal. Making his way to where the [...]pit was, he took his index finger and wrote his name as high as he could reach in the dust under the front seat, just below the name of the last known pilot, Salvatore.

    Later, that name would become permanent, but for now, this was enough.

    Star City, Moscow, Former Russian Republic, October 21st, 2308

    Like his grandfather, who had gotten the gift of his lifetime on his birthday, Mikhail Nicholotti would also be getting the gift of his lifetime on his special day. Though he was only ten, when his grandfather was twenty one, the plane remained the same. Sitting in a place of pride within the hangar in Star City, where the cosmonauts of old used to train, the American fighter had been restored and brought completely back to its former state of glory. It was always with pride that Alexi brought his grandson with him to see the amazing machine, but today it was going to be different. Today, Mikhail would become just as addicted to the freedom of flight as his grandfather was.

    For now, the young Mikhail knew nothing of what was to come. With one hand gripping the gloved hand of his grandfather, he followed the path they often took to the hangar, and deserted airfield, to where the pride of the family was housed. Many hours were spent in that hangar, playing with old altimeters, radios from a time before subspace communication, and toys from another era in time. As most days, the young boy found himself planning a mission to take, never realizing what was coming would change his life forever.

    Before they realized it, the pair reached the hangar and stepped inside. There, where it was warm, the elder man removed their jackets and gloves and hung them near a small office in the back. Taking his grandson's hand, he led him to the back where he presented a small flight suit. It was with a joyous response that the boy took it and donned it, never realizing that today he would not be flying on the ground. But, ready to fly from his [...]pit in the corner of the room, it wasn't until Alexi took him and led him up the ladder, strapping him into the rear seat of the plane, that things finally started to click in his little mind.

    And that was all it took for Mikhail Nicholotti Sr. to be completely hooked on the magic of flight.

    The years that followed were filled with hours spent between home and the hangar. As the boy grew into a man, the plane was passed from grandfather to grandson, who maintained her in pristine condition and never lost the love for flight. He grew, joined the Starfleet Marines, went off to war, and returned, but never lost the passion for the ancient machine that sat in the darkness of the beloved hangar. He grew up, and had a son of his own, living proof that you were never too old for adrenaline, but it was a lesson that his son never followed.

    No, it wasn't until that son grew and had children of his own that Mikhail found a channel for his passion, and a home for his beloved plane.

    Starfleet Medical Asia Region Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan, Stardate 236012.29

    The early hours of the morning were slipping away as Mikhail Junior and Senior sat silently looking down into the eyes of the newborn child. Unlike some children, namely her older brother who was at home sleeping, this child didn't cry. Instead, her blue-grey eyes searched the world around her inquisitively in a way that left the men to look on with amazement of their own. A few feet away, her mother slept, after a difficult morning of labor, as everything else around them lay still. And for a time, everything seemed right with the world.

    Grasping the older man's finger with a seemingly otherworldly grip, the child met his eyes with her own and a connection was made. The elder Mikhail smiled down knowingly as the younger one looked on with already growing disapproval.

    "You are not even thinking of teaching her to fly that deathtrap," he glared at the older man as he spoke. In response, the older man just smirked and mumbled in the heavy Russian accent.

    "Oh no, of course not."

    But they both knew it was hopeless from that moment on.

    Tokyo Airfield, Japan, Stardate 238912.29

    It's been thirty years since my grandfather first knew that I would follow him into the sky. It's been seven years since he left me. I miss him daily, but I know that he's up there. The sky is where I first learned of the concept of freedom, and of the endless nature of what 'out there' really was. Tonight, I plan to find him up there too. Alone, I will spend my thirtieth birthday with the man who changed everything. He made me, molded me into what I am today. His morality, and stern reactions to when I made bad choices, and his willingness to lead by example showed me this path that had led me to Captaincy.

    I can't help but look out and up, into the dark night sky, as I run my fingers knowingly across the slightly raised paint where the names of the pilots of this plane rest in immortal glory. Though it is dark, I already know what they say.

    John 'Boomer' Alexander

    Salvatore 'Flipside' Nicholotti

    Alexi 'Screecher' Nicholotti

    Mikhail 'Hawk' Nicholotti

    Kalianna 'Viper' Nicholotti

    And perhaps one day, I will be able to add one more. But for now, it's time to go. For now, I have a date with the speed of sound and the empty airspace over Tokyo.


    Captain Kalianna Arashi Nicholotti

    Commanding Officer

    Starbase 118/USS Victory

    • Like 4

  6. ((Sickbay early morning))

    ::Dr. MacLaren had been surprised and relieved when Commander Walker had come to her for help. She had suspected that he was still haunted by the Shadow experience but had not anticipated that it was quite this bad. His recall of emotion was crippled and he'd admitted to having hallucinations of a taunting Shadow. He was experiencing it even as they spoke. She had suggested that there could be actual brain damage or that he might be having a defensive reaction to painful memories themselves. He had accepted those possibilities with an openness that spoke of his desire to be well although she felt that he'd seemed more frightened of the last.::

    Walker: How would you prove out either hypothesis doctor?

    MacLaren: Eh can do a neural scan for actual tissue damage to eliminate the second possibility. We'll be able to see if there is damage to your brain. If there is none, then we are faced with a fear response to memories themselves which ye may have repressed. Eh can help you with that. If the memories are simply deeply buried, we could likely find them together.

    Walker: Seems reasonable, how quickly could we arrange it?

    MacLaren: Eh can do the neural scan right now. It would only take a view moments. Eh have a tri-corder here.

    Walker: And the results? If it turns out to not be a physical element?

    MacLaren: If it is negative, and you agreed, Eh could help you find the memories ye fear.

    :: Walker gave a small involuntary shudder as she said that. His nearly hidden reaction was also an indicator to her that his fear of the memories was the more likely answer. She had seen the kind of dreadful memories that had been twisted like a cruel torture by the Shadow attacking Dr. Deron. What had the commander's Shadow dredged up?::

    Walker: And how would you do that?

    MacLaren: Eh'm a telepath, Commander. Eh dinna enter people's minds without their permission, but with it, Eh can find something you may have suppressed simply because Eh dinna have the same fear of them that a patient might.

    Walker: There is, logically, a third potential that we should consider.

    Shadow Walker: Beyond the obvious that you are simply a loony?

    Walker: Or perhaps four potentials. One is, regrettably that I am actually losing it. However, since that was something brought to me by the shadow... I don't believe it to be true.

    MacLaren:nodding:: Aye, Eh tend to agree with you. Yet, you are giving some credence to what this hallucination is telling you.

    ::She did not want to call it the Shadow since giving it that name would reinforce its reality in his mind.::

    Walker: The concern for me Doctor, what if it is a remnant. A piece of the Shadow creatures that we drove off, somehow locked into my mind.

    Shadow Walker: Ooo good one Benny. Hey, if you are right.. I might make a new friend! I bet the doc would love to share your problems! Well not literally, I bet she's got a ton of her own. And with a telepath... hey I could spread everywhere! Yeah.. let's DO this thing!

    MacLaren: Try not to listen to whatever the hallucination is saying. Think of it as either a manifestation of either tissue damage or as a projected fear. Dinna give it authority in your mind.

    :: Not realizing that he'd reacted visibly, he nodded soberly. ::

    Walker: Doctor, in fairness, under that hypothesis that it was a remnant, your exploration of my mind could spread the infection. But first, let's see if there is any physical damage.

    MacLaren::shaking her head more to shake away the irrational fear his words had produced than to correct him.:: Nae, that willna happen. Let's do the scan and then Eh will tell you our options. :: She found her next words the very same she had said so often during the Shadow crisis.:: They will be our options, ye are nae alone in this now. Together we'll find the answer.

    ::She set the tricorder for a neural brain scan, then she carefully and slowly used it to circle Walker's head. She suspected that the Shadow hallucination was speaking to him and warning him off. She had gently placed her hand on his shoulder as she completed the scan finding his muscles as taut as a bow string.::

    MacLaren: There is some small scar tissue, but it is not in a place that would cause hallucinations. It could cause some memory impairment, but Eh dinna think such significant impairment as ye are experiencing. It can be removed surgically if necessary. Hallucinations result from damage in other parts of the brain, ye see.

    Walker: So the mental attack formed physical issues. That's unexpected, but the hallucinations wouldn't be part of that..and so aren't physical. So what is our next step then? Other than the surgery?

    MacLaren: Eh dinna ken if ye knew this, but Eh trained for many years on Vulcan. Eh learned the mind meld technique. Telepaths of various species can do so. In that, both our minds would be equally open to each other. Since ye fear that the Shadow could spread this affect on your mind, Eh suggest this. First, Eh can enter your mind in a regular Betazoid way which would allow me to see into your thoughts and memories. If Eh find the memories or the cause of their blockage, Eh would break off the contact. Then Eh could tell you what Eh'd found. That would tell ye what was there and what ye may fear. It wouldna be the same as really having them and the blockage would remain. Then if ye wish to face the fear, Eh could then use the mind meld technique. Since the memories would be in my mind, Eh'd be returning them to you.

    Walker: So, you'd be scanning my memories, downloading a copy hopefully without the virus, then reloading my mind from a saved file? That seems as reasonable as any other path forward I suppose. Though I'm honeslty more concerned with the Shadow "infecting" you with the same virus.

    Shadow Walker: And you should be... as soon as she get's in... she's going to be in for more than she bargained for I'll tell ya.

    ::MacLaren knew that if Walker's memories were still there and not destroyed by the Shadows, they would be terrifying; she would experience them not as sharply as he did, but it would not be easy for her. She was a doctor and her duty was not to her own comfort but to help her patient. It had taken a good deal for this officer to come to her; she could not let him down.::

    MacLaren: Just relax as much as ye can. Ye are nae going to feel anything We'll just be sitting here together. You can close your eyes if it is easier.

    :: Even the idea of being relaxed, open, vulnerable, tightened his chest. This wasn't what he did. He fought. He was the person that watched out for others, not that needed to be watched over. Only the concern that doing nothing would make things worse forced him to stay. So instead, he grappled with his own urges, trying to bring down the barriers he'd always put up. To allow the Doctor unharmed through the battlefield of his mind. ::

    Walker: Alright, but... be careful. I've been trained to resist... so not sure how that's going to affect things.

    ::MacLaren gave him a reassuring smile and then lowered opened herself to his mind. The room faded and darkened into a barren plain that looked as if it had sustained a brutal bombing. What appeared to be the smoldering remains of piles of rags were corpses from which she stepped back in horror. A gleeful laugh made her spin around to see a undulating dark from. A vicious smile like a smirking Cheshire Cat split the darkness of its face. She wanted to run, to escape, but she recognized it as a defensive feature of Walker's mind. She turned from the figure and continued to try to find his memories in this minefield of his mental barriers. The terrain suddenly shifted and she found herself climbing a steep precipice until it shook and hurtled her down. An increasing sense of dread dragged at her like heavy shackles. Shadowy figures flew around her squawking like ravening vultures. Oo They are not real; they canna hurt me; they are not real, ignore them Oo::

    ::The shrieking of the vultures increased until she dropped to her knees and put her hands over her ears. She batted it away and it dove at her until raising her fist, she struck it and it flew away revealing a door. Entering, she was in the sickbay and the shadow assumed the shape of a vulture feeding on the the body of Commander Walker. She walked to it carefully and saw it feeding. The Trauma Ward faded and the walls seemed like the giant screens of old Earth's cinemas showing scenes from the commander's life. Some were scenes of his childhood, his youth and what appeared to be his courtship with his wife, the birth of his child, the terrors of battles fought.::

    ::They played out like a movie reel in his mind, but instead of full images, the pictures were blurred, lacking color. In some cases, they flickered and jumped as if frames of the film had been cut and spliced back together.::

    :: The vulture looked up at her as she gazed at the man's life. Shifting to a more human looking body, still somewhat covered in shadow, he gestured to the images before them. ::

    Shadow Walker: Welcome to the mind of Ben Walker. Not much to see, but hey, you get what you pay for... am I right? :: As he spoke the last, he slurped up a bit of entrails that had been in the vulture's mouth. ::

    MacLaren: Ye are a defense mechanism, nothing more.

    :: The darkened figure wagged his finger at the woman as if she was a naughty child. ::

    Shadow Walker: Ah ah ah... no insulting the help. After all, I'm just a poor fragment of this man's consciousness. Similar to the little girl behind you.

    :: He pointed to an obviously distraught young girl, who strongly resembled the doctor. ::

    ::The child startled Johanna, less because it was there, but more because it would be unlike Walker to be cruel to another person. Realizing that, she knew that it was a defense mechanism, but it would not hurt her. It was mostly bravado.:

    Shadow Walker: You said it yourself Doc, you open yourself to understand Benny, and it's a two way street. Besides, :: his outfit changed to the blue of a Starfleet medical officer, and his demeanor became that of a mocking doctor:: I'm only here to help.

    ::MacLaren realized how deeply afraid Walker must be of facing his emotions to have such strongly imbedded defenses. Still, she felt from their first meeting that he was a good man who cared for other people despite a cool facade. She would not be put off by this “shadow.::

    MacLaren: Good then. We're both here for the same reason. Eh'm not scared of you.

    :: The voice came out far weaker than he wanted, laced with the pain of the wound, but gained strength as he spoke::

    Walker: Get... away... from her.

    Shadow Walker: Hey Benny, you look pretty bad. Maybe you should lie back down...

    MacLaren: Nae, Commander, dinna lie down, fight him. He'll hurt me if ye don't. Eh need you to help me.

    ::She had not entered through a mind meld. There was little that Walker knew beyond what was in her service record files. She had long come to terms with that. She had been fighting her own willingness to withdraw since reporting to this base. Now, experiencing Walker's memories, seeing images of his troubled childhood, she understood why he was so guarded, why he would flee from the pain of emotions. Having his mind, his most intimate mental privacy violated by the shadows was a brutal assault, he'd not want to face. He was a private man whose most tender emotions had been used as feeding material by creatures who cared nothing for the pain they caused. The humiliation of that would be a searing wound in itself.::

    :: The shadow creature laughed harshly. ::

    Shadow Walker: Why would I do that doc? You are no more a threat to me, than you are a help to Benny. Ya know why? Because you don't understand!

    :: Tired beyond the ability to explain, and in agony over the wounds inflicted to him by the shadow, he still forced himself onto his elbows. His words came out between exhales of pain::

    Walker: I won't... let him... Just... just go.

    :: Exhausted from even that effort, he slid from his elbows back onto his back. Before his head could hit the hard metal, the Shadow creature tripped, putting his hand between as a cushion, even as it then pulled it free.

    :: MacLaren looked at the memories, some torn and ragged, others intact. There was a lot of pain here, a lot of humiliation in his childhood. Oo So like my time on Vulcan. We were both treated like freaks. His records must read a bit like mine: Excellent student, but emotionally guarded, does not socialize well with others, may have difficulty forming camaraderie with a crew. Eh came here determined to be different. Can he break out of this too?oO::

    MacLaren: Commander, your memories are here, a few have some damage, but not many. The memory of your promotion is here and untouched. You can have the emotions back, but ye'll have to fight for them. If you think your reply, Eh'll hear you.

    :: The creature started laughing at her words, in inverse proportion to the seriousness of her statement. ::

    Shadow Walker: Wha.. wait. You... :: laugh:: you want Benny.. to.. :: At this point he doubled over the table, pulling a moan of pain from Ben:: to fight for himself?!?

    MacLaren: If ye dinna fight this, you will end up losing more than the emotional memories. Ye could shut down all your emotions. They'll follow like dominoes falling. It could ruin your marriage, your love for your bairn.

    :: The shadow looked over at her with shock on his face, his laughter stolen from him ::

    Shadow Walker: Wait, you are serious? :: He shook his head:: You really have no clue do you...

    :: Weakly Ben pushed the shadow away ::

    Walker: Go.. go away. Just leave...

    :: The shadow looked at the man, then at the doctor, then back. The humor he'd always shown robbed from his face and replaced with fury::

    Shadow Walker: Really? That's your answer Benjamin? :: He turned back to the doctor before continuing:: You want him to recover his memories? Let's do that shall we?

    ::MacLaren was torn. The hostility and defensiveness of the Shadow was daunting, but it was Walker's defense mechanism. He was trying to protect himself, but somewhere deeper, Walker must know that he could not continue to exist as he was. He'd reached out for help, something that must have been terribly difficult. She understood that he'd done it to stay on duty, which was clearly his primary motivator. She was not a counselor, but she did know that emotions could not be shut down selectively like defective systems in a computer. Suppression of one lead to suppression of them all in a cascading affect. The lost emotions of his memory, would soon be a total loss of Walker's emotions. An automaton could not be a first officer, and she wondered if he could live at all if he became incapable of doing his duty. She weighed the danger of talking to this Shadow or simply retreating and talking to a conscious Walker. This was dangerous, but she was certain that Walker would not seek further help if they stopped now.::

    MacLaren:: to the Shadow:: Eh ken how agonizing this will be, but he is experiencing a gradual pain now that will eventually destroy him. Ye are angry and see me as an enemy, but he understands that he canna go on as he is.

    ::Reaching into itself, the shadow pulled a glittering jewel, covered in filth::Without waiting for a response, it shoved the jewel into the man's open chest. As soon as it touched him, Ben screamed. A scream that turned quickly to uncontrolled sobbing::

    MacLaren: rushed over to the prostrate Walker and knelt by him, taking his hand:: What was that?

    Shadow Walker: That? That was the memory he had AFTER the shadow attacked. When he realized that it wasn't the sound of his family that brought him back, but his duty to Starfleet. HE CAME BACK BECAUSE HE WAS ORDERED TO! Not love, not friends. Duty. So what does that make him when he's not on duty? :: Snarling, the creature continued, pulling another tarnished gem from it's body:: Oh this is fun, let's do more. How about this one Benjamin. Here's where you realized that you failed your crew when you left her. Where's the Ronin now Benjamin? Where's Cara? Where's the family you SWORE to protect?

    MacLaren: Stop it! He canna face them all at once! He is feeling guilt, but he's wrong to do so. He's seeing all these decisions in a prism of self-condemnation. He did the right things, made the right choices, the only choices he could.

    :: Black tears were streaming down the creatures face as it rounded on her::

    Shadow Walker: Then why is he here?!? If he did right to leave then, for his wife and child. Then what right did he have to leave?!?

    :: On the table, Ben was curled into a fetal ball. The Shadow looked from him back to the doctor with disgust.::

    Shadow Walker: Ben Walker is a fraud and a coward. He hides behind words like duty and responsibility. But at the end, he fails everyone. Just like he knew he would. But the kllhe (Romulan: worm), doesn't fail until it hurts someone else to do so. End of the day "Doc" I'm not the problem here. He is. And that's why he won't fight back. That's why he will let each domino fall. Because that's what he deserves, and at the end of the day.. he knows it.

    ::MacLaren stared into the eyes of the Shadow, of Ben's real image of himself seeing the contempt and self-loathing along with a bitter anger. She did something she would do with a hysterical patient; she slapped him hard, stunning him.::

    MacLaren: He...You...will NOT let the dominoes fall. Ye an officer but one who is also a fine man. You have not let everyone down. Ye are feeling guilty that ye answered your captain, but not your wife. What d'ye think gave ye the strength to answer Captain Nicholotti? D'ye think it was the first time ye were told not to die. Ye were deid! Clinically deid! Ye were not almost deid; ye were gone...until your wife's voice spoke to you over and over. She didna order you, or call your name because ye were hearing letters that she hadna known would ever be used as they were. Ye were likely too weak to respond but you did respond after hours of hearing your wife. Ye answered your duty, but because ye'd drawn on something that ye find hard to believe ye are truly capable of: loving someone and being loved by them. Aye, ye did your duty; that is no crime. D'ye think your wife didna ken she was marrying a Starfleet officer? D'ye think that ye'd have been able to reply without her voice? You came back because of her no matter that ye replied to the captain. You literally came back from the deid because of your wife's voice, not the captain's. That is a club ye are using to beat yourself for no reason.

    MacLaren: Ye think ye were wrong to leave her behind? Would she be safer here? Now? Ye denied yourself for their safety. It is an agonizing decision, but one that men have had to make since time immemorial when they were willing to do their duty so that millions could live in peace. No man deserves so much pain for that.

    MacLaren: D'ye ken how many Starfleet children learn of their parent's death from some teacher, or officer who barely knows them because they're out in a combat area instead of someplace safe, surrounded by family members to ease their pain? Some officers have no choice about it; some are too selfish or too weak to do without their wives and children to duty their duty without the comfort of them, but you did make that choice, and you made the right one. <Revised>

    MacLaren: There is one more lie that ye are telling yourself, Commander. Ye said that ye didna come back for friends either. There is one thing the military has known for centuries: people dinna die for their country, their ideals or their just cause; they are willing to die for their buddies, their friends, and there is no greater love than that. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. When you came back to duty, to face the Shadows again, ye were doing it to save your friends, because that is what duty really is!

    ::The slap had caught the Shadow Walker by complete surprise. The words more so. Why was she fighting for him? Benny hadn't done anything for this woman and she was putting herself at risk. Though he had to admit to himself he didn't know how much of a risk it was for a telepath.::

    Shadow Walker: Why? Why are you doing this? What makes him worth the effort, the risk?

    ::The question was meant to come out dripping with contempt. Instead, in this place, literally in his own mind, it came out with the momentary innocence of a child. What made him worth fighting for? ::

    MacLaren: Because in all of eternity there never was and never will be another Ben Walker. Ye are a unique creation of God and your soul is priceless....because ye are a good and honorable man who has done your duty no matter how painful it was to you...because Eh want ye to be able to grow old with your wife and see your bairns grow up, and because Eh am a doctor and life is sacred to me.

    :: The words shook his world, knocking the doctor off her feet momentarily. The Shadow, unaffected, looking at her suspiciously. ::

    Shadow Walker: I don't believe you. :: He laughed harshly:: I CAN'T believe you.

    MacLaren:: gently:: And that is your problem; ye canna accept that ye are worth caring for, worth being loved, but ye are a marrit man and a father, a respected officer, so more people than I disagree with you.

    :: The shadow made a sweeping bow, his outfit having shifted to a medieval courtier's, the mockery in his voice matching the look in his eyes. ::

    Shadow Walker: Ah, but that's the point M'lady Doctor. :: He pointed to Ben on the table:: He does. Not fully, or even without suspicion that you are simply doing your job as a doctor in saying so. :: His smile showed razor teeth:: And we know what a .. ahem.. Female Dog.. duty can be. But, for now, I'll cede the battlefield to you.

    MacLaren: Duty is not an obscenity; it is a opportunity to be our best selves. Don't forget, we choose our duties. Eh have chosen to preserve life, you have chosen to defend peace and freedom, which is never free. It comes at a cost, but it is not something to be ashamed of. You have a right to enjoy the life you and officers like you safeguard for the rest of us.

    Shadow Walker: Ah ah ah... you and I both know that I can kill him. And I'm not sure that wouldn't be kinder. Besides Herr Doktor. While you are obviously certain you know who and what I am... :: He pointed to the child behind her:: Ben hasn't read your file to know what you looked like as a child.

    :: With that last statement, the Shadow slipped away, leaving the doctor alone with her patient::

    ::MacLaren narrowed her eyes and started to shout at the Shadow wherever it was, but then realizing her error, she looked down at Walker.::

    MacLaren: Nice try, Commander, but my records wouldna have pictures of me as a bairn anyway. It's not hard to figure what Eh looked like at that age. That child is a skinnier, flatter chested version of what Eh look like now. I'm not going to be scared away. We've learned a lot, but it's not going to be a quick fix. We've seen the enemy...and it is you. Still, that's an important thing to learn because being a stubborn, duty oriented son of a gun can work both ways. Giving up isna really in your nature, and it is not in mine. Oo outcasts who've made it this far, dinna give up. Oo Are ye feeling any better?

    Walker: It hurts. But not like I'm bleeding out as much. :: He gave a small smile:: Hopefully we are done for now? Because I would kill for a big breakfast...

    MacLaren: smiling despite sudden fatigue:: That's always a good sign. Eh can get you one.


    Commander Ben Walker



    Lt. jg Johanna MacLaren


    SB118/USS Victory

  7. ((Colt's delerious mind))

    ::As the darkness took Colt again and Kali's face faded from his

    vision, he was completely disoriented. He felt as though he was

    floating in open space, without any point of reference. He was so very

    tired and it would be so easy to just close his eyes and sleep but

    something inside told him he couldn't do that, he had to stay awake.

    Suddenly he was propelled back into the sickbay as if by vacuum


    ((Sickbay - USS Victory))

    ::Colt's eyes shot open, blinking rapidly, trying to focus against the

    bright, sterile lighting of the sickbay. His body felt like it might

    explode from the pain. He couldn't keep this up. If something didn't

    change soon, his eyes would close and he wouldn't be able to open them

    again. It was already taking every ounce of strength and willpower to

    keep himself in the fight and he HAD to fight. He couldn't leaver her

    like this. Not again.::

    ::A familiar calm Scottish lilt fell over him that he knew to be

    Dr.MacLaren's. That told him two things, one that his life was in the

    best possible hands, and two that he must be in pretty rough shape for

    them to have brought the CMO at such a late hour. Her words had the

    reassuring quality that good doctors seemed to develop.::

    MacLaren: Mr. Daniels. It's Dr. MacLaren; Eh ken ye are in a good deal

    of pain and ye must be frightened about now. Ye are nae to worry. Ye

    are going to be just fine. So relax, close your eyes and we'll have ye

    asleep in a moment. When ye wake up, and ye will, ye're going to be

    out of pain and on the way to recovery.

    :: He coughed as he tried to speak for the first time in... he wasn't

    sure how much time had passed.::

    Daniels: Thanks Doc, I'll remain cautiously ::He inhaled sharply at a

    wave of pain that threatened to make his lights go out again.::


    ::Whatever method of anesthesia the Doc had used kicked in quickly at

    that point, this time his lack of consciousness manifested itself in a

    completely different way.::

    ((Colt's delerious mind))

    ::Colt was standing in a forest at night with no obvious land marks.

    Before him a path lead off into the night, it had been recently

    traveled by a single pair of boots. He walked aimlessly down the path,

    all the while looking for some sign of where he was or why he was

    there. After covering a considerable distance he saw the flickering

    light of a camp fire at the end of the trail. As he got closer he saw

    a lone figure sitting near the fire, smoking a cigar. Even at this

    distance, he recognized Ryan Daniels immediately. This could have been

    any number of camping trips they'd taken together, they had all

    eventually ended up here, with the two men sitting near the fire, as

    the oldest shared the wisdom and advice that would lay the framework

    for the man that he'd become. Colt took his place at the fire without

    saying a word.::

    R.Daniels: Hell of a mess you've got your self in.

    ::The older Daniels took a puff of the cigar and shook the flask in

    his hand, getting a feel for how much liquid remained before offering

    it to his son. Colt knew that it almost certainly contained some kind

    of whiskey and reluctantly accepted the flask. As he had grown up his

    relationship with his father had changed, it was more like a

    friendship than a father-son dynamic now, though he still solicited

    the advice of the older man when he needed it.::

    C.Daniels: Dad, you aren't even dead yet. ::He took a swig from the

    flask, confirming his suspicions.:: Why are you appearing in my

    deathbed visions?

    ::The elder Daniels laughed at this, taking the cigar out his mouth


    R.Daniels: Who were you expecting? Grandma? She'd have a heart attack

    and die a second time if she knew the kind of trouble you're in.

    :: Colt just smiled and nodded as his father continued.::

    R.Daniels: So, this woman that you're so keen on dyin' for, Is she

    worth the price you're payin'?

    ::It wasn't a criticism, but a genuine question, delivered in the

    matter-of-fact way that Ryan James Daniels did everything. Colt didn't

    even have to think about the response, whatever pain he'd felt,

    whatever pain he would feel, wouldn't come close to the damage that

    would've been done by her death. To him and the thousands of people on

    the Starbase.::

    C.Daniels: She's more than worth it. 180,000 people depend on her to

    keep them safe.

    ::He danced around the subject of his own feelings. Not wanting to

    expose that bit of unfinished business, but it was no use. His father

    knew him better than that.::

    R.Daniels: That's not what I mean and you know it. ::He reached out

    for the flask and Colt passed it back, sitting in silence as he took

    another swig.:: Does she know that you love her?

    ::Colt stared into the campfire as his father's words sunk in.::

    C.Daniels: I don't know, Dad. ::The older man's glare forced the truth

    out him, as it had so many times before.:: I mean no, I've never

    actually told her that.

    ::Ryan Daniels stood, tossing his cigar to the ground and stomping it

    out into the dirt, and slipping the flask into his pocket.::

    R.Daniels: Well, you'd better go make [...] sure she knows it.

    ::As he turned to walk away, the woods seemed to dissolve around him

    and the entire world faded to black once again.::




    Lt.JG Colt Daniels

    Tactical Officer

    SB118/USS Victory

  8. They just didn't know what it was like.

    To be turned on and shut off like a faucet; forced into reality only in the most dire circumstances, yet forgotten when things were going well, the holographic doctor mused about its very existence. Sure, he did not have feelings, per se, but even in his currently set, standby mode, thoughts fluttered around his electrical synapses. Residing within the memory banks of the sickbay computers, he felt as if he were trapped into a tiny little box. It gave new meaning to claustrophobia.

    There again, there were no feelings and no fears. Perhaps that was part of what made him so incredibly important to the crew, at least when he was needed. The lack of feelings and emotions - which he figured made other creatures weak in times of crisis - was just what they needed when everything went down the tubes. As his consciousness drifted about within the memory module in which he was stored, the Emergency Medical Hologram, Mark 4, let his mind wander quite literally.

    And this was how he would spend most of his days, trapped within the confines of bio-chips and electrical signals. Today, however, was a bit different, and just after the impulses traveling through his section of the memory module had finished their most recent round of feeling sorry for themselves, the sucking feeling of being pulled into the very reality he both loved and hated appeared. Suddenly, the particles of light came together to form a humanoid figure and his programming kicked in.

    "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

    He rolled his eyes at himself as he often did when the pre-programmed phrase came from vocal chords that weren't really his own. Looking around, he saw none of the mayhem he might have expected of an emergency, but noticed another doctor in a Starfleet uniform standing a short distance away. Turning towards him, she handed over a flat of vials.

    "Take those into the lab. They'll need tested," she said just before turning and walking to the other side of the room. Sighing to himself, the EMH turned and complied. And it wasn't because he had chosen to do so, it was because some things he couldn't do. Sadly, going against his programming was one of them.

    Having become the personal ferry for objects between sickbay and the lab in the rear of sickbay, the EMH simply frowned to himself as he passed no one. An empty sickbay meant that his purpose today would simply be to move things back and forth. Didn't anyone realize the potential he had? Wasn't there something more in store for his pathetic life?

    Then he laughed at himself. Life was such a strange word. It was a word he ascribed to himself, perhaps, based on his consciousness, but one that he did not deserve. At least that was what the Federation people said. He was simply a tool to be used in times of need. When there were lives to be saved, he would come forth and become as real as he could, at least for a short period of time. But what did that mean for the future? Nothing.

    He would spend years and years trapped in the memory module, drifting along the electrical currents that denoted ones and zeros because in the end, that was what he was. And yet, there was an enigma. Without feelings, he did not care, but with his own form of consciousness, he did. Stopping along the path from the lab back out to sickbay, he tried to wrap his light-particle mind around it only to find the whole process too much for that moment.

    With another sigh, he shelved the thought for later, when he was stashed away until the next emergency. Returning to sickbay, he approached the woman in the doctor's uniform. She glanced at him just before sending him away.

    "That's it," she said. "Computer, deactivate EMH."

    And instantly, the vision of sickbay faded and was replaced by that of something different. Without 'eyes', the EMH saw nothing. Once again a bunch of current that drifted around in the module, he resumed his musing. Only this time with something other than feeling sorry for himself to really consider; life itself.


    Captain Kalianna Nicholotti

    Commanding Officer

    Starbase 118/USS Victory

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